There’s no way around it: Thursday night’s matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers is a huge game.

Not only is this a matchup between two teams that many consider to be Super Bowl contenders, but this game gives the winner sole possession of the AFC West – the division many also consider to be the best in the NFL.

Teams obviously want all their players to be healthy on a weekly basis. This becomes even more obvious when talking about a game of this magnitude.

For the Chiefs, they will be without kicker Harrison Butker in this game. Starting guard Trey Smith is listed as questionable although he got in a full practice on Wednesday. Overall, the Chiefs are in good shape.

The Chargers are missing Pro Bowl wideout Keenan Allen and tight end Donald Parham, which are two big injuries on their own. L.A. could also be without prized cornerback J.C. Jackson, who missed last week’s win over the Las Vegas Raiders.

Jackson’s injury is arguably the biggest of them all. He was signed by the Chargers back in March and was paid top-dollar to come in and be their shutdown corner.

So, it’s clear why it’s so important regarding whether or not he plays.

“J.C. Jackson … is gonna do a pregame workout [and] is considered a game-time decision as he is coming back from that minor ankle procedure,” NFL Network’s James Palmer said Wednesday. “It was considered a 2-4 week recovery. Today is three weeks and two days….

“He is a big part about what they want to do. When I talked to star safety Derwin James, he told me he [Jackson] ‘changes everything about our secondary’. He said, ‘First off, he gets the ball back to Justin Herbert … but also, when he’s on the field, we can change what we can do in terms of our coverages [and we can] disguise things much more than we could if he’s off the field.’ And we know how important that is when you’re going against Patrick Mahomes.”

Jackson not only adds to what the Chargers defense can do coverage-wise, but he will also influence what the Chiefs do through the air, themselves. Jackson’s ability to man-up on top assignments and shadow receivers is a tremendous asset and there aren’t many corners who can utilize that strength at the level he does.

Ankle injuries can be tough for players to overcome, in general. But this especially applies to the cornerback position, where players are constantly stopping and starting, changing angles and making cuts, along with plenty of other movements and actions that require agility, strength, and balance.

The Chiefs are certainly keeping their eye on this one and will soon enough as to what the game plan is when it comes to Jackson. But, regardless of what happens, it won’t make this matchup any less of the spectacle it’s bound to be.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports