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San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Point Spread - Pick

San Diego Chargers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
TV: CBS
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com

Point Spread: SD +7/KC -7
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The San Diego Chargers come into Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in week one AFC West action. The Chargers look forward to clearing the room of the stink of a 4-12 season last year where almost everything went wrong. Typically, Arrowhead is not the perfect place to get things on the right track, particularly against what might just be one of the best Chiefs teams in years. After a 1-5 start to last season, they completely turned things around, winning 11 consecutive games before getting knocked out of the playoffs.

Kansas City has been impressive in bursts over the past several seasons and are looking to put together a full 16-game effort. They went on a huge run last season without star back Jamaal Charles. They were banking on his return, but it looks like there could be a snag in the fence with his recovery reportedly not going ideally. Last season with Charles out of action, the Chiefs got an enormous boost from the play of backs Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. At quarterback is the underrated Alex Smith—a steady force of consistency in this offense. In the last 5 seasons, Smith’s W-L mark as a starter is 49-21. We talk about what quarterbacks do well or not so well, but what about just winning? In that area, Smith excels.

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By the same token, the Chiefs are going to have to make it work on offense with a lack of firepower. Not that they’ve been all that stocked in the recent past and they were still able to peel off huge runs of wins. But with Charles’ status in the air, the offense just has a lot of role guys. The only real shining light at Smith’s disposal is TE Travis Kelce. Their receiving crew of Jeremy Maclin and Albert Wilson is not terribly compelling. But a good line has a way of things coming across much better. With anchor LT Eric Fisher, C Mitch Morse, G Parker Ehringer, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff, and newly-added RT Mitchell Schwartz—the offense will be given an opportunity to thrive.

A lot of the Chiefs’ success stems from a defense that really seemed to turn a corner last season. The holdout of Eric Berry and the iffy status of Justin Houston leave a few things unsettled, but a lot of pieces remain from 2015’s seventh-ranked unit. If Berry can hit the ground running after winning the 2015 Comeback Player of the Year award, the secondary looks to be an excellent one. With Berry is one of the top rookies from last season in corner Marcus Peters, who was tied for the league INT lead with 8. Phillip Gaines and Jamell Fleming remain, with free agent Stevie Brown and rookie draft pick KeiVerae Russell coming into the fold. The line is one that makes a solid impact, with Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, and others getting it done. Losing Houston is a bad loss at LB and they have now lost Josh Mauga, leaving it up to DJ Alexander and Tamba Hali. This defense should be a good unit and a playmaking one, as well. But that middle being dilapidated could be a problem.

The Chargers are trying to come out of the dumps, but a big part of their failures last season was due to their complete inability to catch a good break. The offense returns QB Philip Rivers, who has some nice pieces, while looking for others to develop around him. Could an improved line or even the use of a fullback spring RB Melvin Gordon loose this season? Last season, the offensive line was in tatters and that probably didn’t let Gordon look very good. But establishing some continuity on the offensive line is key. King Dunlap and Orlando Franklin are solid on the left side and they have depth at center. DJ Fluker (questionable) has done better on the inside at RG, with Joe Barksdale filling out the right side with depth in all slots.

With the ground-game at least having the potential to improve, it could bring the San Diego aerial attack more to the forefront. Keenan Allen will surprise some people this year if he can compile a full season. He was clicking wonderfully with Rivers before going down with an injury.  Danny Woodhead returns with his 80 receptions from last season and tight end great Antonio Gates is joined by rookie Hunter Henry. Free agent Travis Benjamin also joins the offense to make for another receiving and return option.

The late signing of Joey Bosa looks like something that will resonate later in the season for the Chargers, but the Chargers made some other interesting moves to address some holes on this side of the ball. Brandon Mebane was brought in to help address their issues against the run and joins effective Corey Liuget up-front. At LB, Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu, Manti Te’o, and Denzel Perryman are turning into a definite team asset. Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers are as good a corner duo as they’ve had in a while, while Dwight Lowery was acquired to help cushion the loss of Eric Weddle. With S Jahleel Addae and the addition of Casey Heyward, this is a part of the team that could come around.

The Chargers are a team that made some subtle additions that could turn things around to some extent. It’s been hard watching them struggle for the past few seasons, but at the same time, it always seemed that they were close to being something special. They improved in the trenches on both sides of the line of scrimmage, while adding some interesting ingredients in other areas. Head coach Mike McCoy is on the hot-seat and one should expect a high-urgency effort from the Bolts this season.

Arrowhead is a tough place to play, but Rivers has enjoyed some solid performances there before and for the last few seasons, the Chargers “D” has been pretty stiff in KC for whatever reason. The Chiefs, after all, aren’t the hardest team to stuff up offensively. I see an improved Chargers’ defense manifesting here, as they keep the Chiefs in check, while Rivers and Company do just enough to keep pace. I’m taking the Chargers.

Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the San Diego Chargers plus 7 points.

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