LA Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Pick & Prediction
Los Angeles Chargers (10-3 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (11-2 SU, 8-4-1 ATS)
Date/Time: Thursday, December 13, 8:20 PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City Mo.
by Keith Allen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC +3½ / KC -3½
Over/Under Total: 56 ½
Thursday Night Football lands in Kansas City this week for a clash between the two teams with the best records in the AFC. The 10-3 LA Chargers invade Arrowhead stadium to take on the 11-2 Chiefs. Betting sites made the Chiefs 3½ point favorites, and the play is to lay the points and take the home team. Here are 3 reasons.
Kansas City Owns the AFC West
The Chiefs are 20-2 against the AFC West since the start of 2015. This includes being 4-0 this year and a 10 point opening week victory against these Chargers in the City of Angels. Of course, this year the Chiefs are owning the whole league, currently sitting as the number one seed in the AFC at 11-2, and also owning the best ATS record in the AFC at 8-4-1. The offensive explosion of Andy Reid’s team has been well documented this year, ranking number 1 in the league in points scored and yards per play and 3rd in passing yards. KC’s offense has scored less than 26 points in a game only 3 times and 8 times have scored 37 or more including opening night in LA. KC has the 9th most passing attempts in the league but the 5th fewest sacks allowed.
The last time the Chargers beat the Chiefs was the last game of the 2013 campaign with Chase Daniel starting behind center for KC. Nine straight victories for the Chiefs against their division rival and the last 8 have been by more than 3 points, with the last 4 by 10 points or more. In fact, since the start of 2017 the Chiefs have played 10 games vs the AFC West and have won by more than 3 points in 9 of those games. Reid knows his AFC West opponents inside and out and always has a game plan to put his team in position to be successful. There is no reason to expect these trends to change on Thursday. Both teams have issues with being towards the bottom of their running back depth charts, and Reid is the coach that will be better able to adjust for this midweek game.
The Chargers Can’t be Trusted in a Big Game
Philip Rivers career and the Chargers during his tenure will be remembered for 2 things, great statistical performances and disappointment in big games. 2018 is following this trend, as the Chargers are 5th in the league in points scored, 2nd in yards per play and 8th in passing yards. Rivers is completing just under 70% of his passes and has thrown for 29 touchdowns against only 6 interceptions. Rivers has one of the best receiving corps to throw to, with Keenan Allen a top 5 receiver in the league, while Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin give Rivers a balance of speed guys and guys that win contested catches. Rivers is able to move the ball in the air and LA’s ground game has also been very reliable this year. Melvin Gordon is playing at a Pro-Bowl lever with Austin Ekeler proving a very capable change of pace option. The team is averaging 4.8 yards per carry that is the 5th best average in the league. Gordon has missed the last 2 games with a knee injury and will not be 100% in KC, although his playing status will have to be watched. Ekeler had a stinger at the end of the week 14 game and is not expected to play Thursday. Between the lack of options in the running game and the need to chase points the Chargers fate will rest on Rivers right arm.
Although Rivers has proven capable of moving the ball and scoring, he and the Chargers as a whole have not proven capable in big moments and big games. Despite a slew of talent, LA ranks 15th in the league in 3rd down conversions and 16th in the league at scoring touchdowns in the red zone. By contrast, the Chiefs are 4th and 3rd respectively in these two categories. LA opened the season with a loss to the Chiefs at home, then fell to 1-2 when they lost to the Rams in week 3. They did beat the Steelers two weeks ago, but this is the only game they have won in the past 5 weeks against an opponent with a winning record. The Chargers defense was expected to be an elite unit this year and though they are only allowing 20 points per game, they currently rank 19th in both sacks and turnovers. This is not good enough to stop Mahomes and the Chiefs. When the 4th quarter rolls around on Thursday night, the Chargers are not the team we expect to finish strong.
Thursday Night is for the Home Team
As stated above, Kansas City has the best ATS record in the AFC at 8-4-1 and the Chargers have also been good to their bettors with a 7-6 ATS mark. Both teams have stumbled a little bit lately with the Chiefs 0-3-1 and the Chargers 1-2-1 in their last 4. The sportsbooks have adjusted to both of these hot teams but one of them will get back on track when they meet.
The trend that can’t be ignored is that the home team is 11-2 ATS on Thursday nights this season. In addition to Kansas City riding this trend, the line implies these teams are equal as Arrowhead is worth at least 3 points for the home team. The Chiefs beat the Chargers by 10 points in LA in week 1 and are generally power rated as the number 1 or 2 team in the league. They must be at least ½ point better than LA, and LA has to travel on a short week to 35 degree Kansas City to play this game. There is some line value with the Chiefs only laying 3½.
Fire Up the Chiefs for TNF
The pick on Thursday Night is to take the Chiefs and lay the 3½ points.