Kansas City Chiefs (11-4 SU, 8-7 ATS) vs. San Diego Chargers (5-10 SU, 7-8 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC -5.5/SD +5.5
Over/Under Total: 45
The Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Diego Chargers on Sunday in final-week action in an AFC West battle. The Chargers are out of it, just riding out an unpleasant season plagued by blowing close games and injuries-galore. Last week, they became the first team to lose to the Browns this season. The Chiefs, meanwhile, smashed the Broncos, 33-10, on Sunday Night Football. Theyre going to the playoffs. But with the Raiders having lost Derek Carr, they could easily lose their last game and if KC wins, they could take the division and get a first-round bye. So for the Chiefs, there is a lot on the line.
This is something other than a regular season-ending game for a bad team. For the Chargers, this looks to be a wrap in San Diego. Unable to pass a bill where tourists would pay for a new stadium, the support is waning. Its hard to not get that impression when watching San Diegos last home-game against Oakland where it seemed more like an Oakland home game than an actual Oakland home game. They came off that deflating home loss and looked to be phoning it in at times against Cleveland. So where youd normally be inclined to give a team some extra credit in their last game in a certain city, the fan-base seems battered by all the close losses, the unfulfilled promise, an ungrateful owner who thrived in a city despite never giving them a winner, and the constant talk of them leaving. Its like having a horrible and unattractive girlfriend who keeps threatening to leave despite never really delivering the goods. After a while, a certain amount of apathy sets in.
In the first half of the season, the Chargers didnt do well, though it seemed like they should be. A series of painfully-close losses had people thinking San Diego was bad, but a team that was close to being good if they could just close out games better. In the last month, theyre just plain bad. The offense, which was rolling well despite injuries, has ground to a halt. Anyone who was anyone has been injured and is out of action. For a while, Philip Rivers was able to make it work, with players like Melvin Gordon stepping up, along with previously-unheard-of receivers like Tyrell Williams and Dontrelle Inman. But Rivers performances became increasingly ragged. The line couldnt stop the rush, as Rivers was under constant siege. It affected his performance and the interceptions went up and the point totals went down. With injuries, the offense bears almost no resemblance to the unit they pictured when the season began. And when you lost a lot of pieces and the O-line stinks, theres only one way that can resonate.
Injuries have also rocked the San Diego defense, depriving them of a chance to field what would have been a really good and talented D. This is a group to watch moving forward, with talent across all areas. But injuries have disrupted the formula. Joey Bosa has been on fire and can really get after it. Casey Hayward has made plays in the secondary, leading the league in picks. They can make plays, but when the going gets tough, this group usually comes up shortone of the least-clutch defenses in recent memory. If something can go wrong late in a game, leave it to this defense to allow it to occur.
After losing a heartbreaker the previous week in a costly defeat to the Titans at home, Kansas City was able to avoid back-to-back losses at home with a comprehensive win over the Broncos on Sunday night. The now suddenly-shaky Raiders have to win on Sunday and if they dont and the Chiefs win this game, theyll take the division on the strength of their season-sweep of Oakland. Both sides of the ball have shown promise for the Chiefs in recent weeks.
Alex Smith works with an improving cast of players, as the offense has gotten a big boost from the explosive rookie Tyreek Hill. On Sunday, Hill busted loose for a 70-yard TD run. He also adds a danger-element on returns. They look to get him the ball more, as the KC offense suddenly doesnt look so down. On Sunday, Spencer Ware (questionable) looked as springy as he had in weeks. Travis Kelce has really turned the corner as a game-changing tight end and had 160 yards receiving on Sunday. But like a lot of offenses that are working on things, they dont always deliver and can sometimes look pedestrian.
The Chiefs defense wasnt the stoutest this season, sometimes pretty leaky. After allowing a combined 42 points in their last three games, perhaps theyre snapping into shape at the right time. They can get after the passer, led by Dee Ford and Dontari Poe, who thrilled the home crowd by also tossing a TD on Sunday. Eric Berry and Marcus Peters are one of the better playmaking duos in the secondary. The D has scored five touchdowns this season.
These games can be dangerous. If you look at week 17 games and bet against the spread on the teams that are in the more-urgent situations, thats a good way to lose a lot of money. So we dont want to go with the overly-obvious plays across the board. By the same token, its just hard to imagine the Chargers coming up with something special this week, now that theyre even more banged-up. They have gotten worse and worse and are showing reduced levels of fighting spirit. Against a Chiefs team that has something to shoot for, I dont like the Chargers chances this week. Im taking the Chiefs.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Kansas City Chiefs minus 5.5 points.
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