Tonight we will have the two best teams in the AFC square off in what is looking like one of the best games of the year. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs will take on Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers.
We all know these teams consist of household names on both offense and defense, but look out for the rookie Justin Jackson, as he will be featured as the number one back for the first time in his career.
Even though the Chargers were hoping to have star running back Melvin Gordon, playing him could have ultimately ended the rest of his season with either one bad cut or a hit to the knee. With Gordon and Austin Ekeler both inactive, it leaves rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome as the only healthy backs. Newsome has only seen 11 snaps all season so I wouldn’t expect him to be much of a factor. However, they might mix him in here and there for a handful of snaps.
He might not be used as much but Jackson is no stranger to this offense since being drafted by the team. He has rushed the ball only 22 times this year, mostly filling in for whenever Gordon wasn’t playing but he still showed how good of a runner he can be with such a small a small workload. He currently has 27 attempts for 128 yards and one score while averaging a very efficient 5.1 YPC.
It’s no secret that the Chargers like to run the ball, and in games where Gordon has not played, Ekeler has seen at least 15 touches, which gives Jackson a nice amount of volume to work with. Even in the past three games, Jackson was creating a nice role for himself as he recorded a total of 132 yards and one score on 22 carries. Jackson has shown a lot of promise when he has been given the ball this season, so don’t be surprised if tonight is his breaking out party.
Not only is it looking like Jackson is going to be getting the ball a lot this game, but he’s got a very good matchup as well. This year, Kansas City ranks 25th against the run, 31st in YPC, and has given up the most rushing yards to backs this season. Kansas City has been abysmal against the run so I wouldn’t be surprised if Jackson gets over the century mark in this one with at least a score.
Photo: Mark J. Terrill/ AP photos