Los Angeles Chargers (7-6 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Saturday, December 16, 2017 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: LAC -1/KC +1
Over/Under Total: 46
The Los Angeles Chargers take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Saturday in a big AFC West battle. Both teams are at 7-6, making this a battle for AFC West supremacy. Not many saw this coming with the Chiefs getting off to a 5-0 start, while the Chargers started the season 0-4. But with four straight wins and 7 in their last 9 games, the Chargers have made a big run. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have seen things largely not go their way as of late. Thats why their win last Sunday, 26-15, to the Raiders was a huge victory for the Chiefs. The Chargers, meanwhile, dominated the Redskins on Sunday and look like they might be hard to stop. With these teams having gone through so many changes, we dont want to take their week four matchup too much to heart, as the Chiefs beat the Bolts 24-10 in Carson. For both teams, their most-realistic chance to get to the playoffs is to win the division, making this a huge game for both teams.
The Chargers have really turned things around in midseason in dramatic fashion. For those who have been watching closely, it might be less of a shock, being that they were always better than their record suggested. Several earlier losses should have been wins, but theyve really started getting separation from their opponents in recent weeks. They are actually being quite dominant over the past month. And when a team that was buried manages to lift themselves up, it can be really difficult to reverse the momentum.
Key to the Chargers revival has been a surge on the offensive side of the ball. Earlier in the season and even up until about a month ago, the Chargers were defense-heavy, with the offense really under-performing. Philip Rivers has started to cook and he put forth a nice 300-yard game again on Sunday against the Redskins. WR Keenan Allen has been big the last several games and was over 100 yards again on Sunday, as was Tyrell Williams. Tight end Hunter Henry caught a TD pass, while Melvin Gordon ran for 78 yards and a TD. Austin Ekeler added some nice runs and has been an interesting addition to this offense. More and more, the Chargers most-valuable offensive pieces are being put to better use, as this offense is starting to look a lot better, while being consistent.
On Sunday, the Chargers gave up a second-quarter TD to the Redskins and then kept them off the board for the duration of the game. They are the third-best defense in the league as far as allowing points. Key to the overall equation is a secondary that has been huge this season, with Casey Hayward, Trevor Williams, Jahleel Addae, Tre Boston, Desmond King, and others. On Sunday, Kyle Emmanuel had a pick, while King had a sack, as hes been adept at some sneaky pass-rushes this season. The most any team has scored against the Chargers all season is 26 points. They are stout, while being able to cultivate the kinds of big plays that can help win games.
The Chiefs finally made something good happen on Sunday, beating an Oakland team that had also been able to catch up to them in the standings. They got off to a 26-0 lead, before the Raiders added a few late scores to make it look better. So for the standings and just for their team-morale, the win was huge for the Chiefs. To go from a conference frontrunner to a team mired in dysfunction was a hard fall for the Chiefs, one that most teams would not be able to recover. They werent simply losing, but taking losses to teams like Oakland, the Giants, Buffalo, and the Jets along the way. But heading into week 15, they are in a pretty favorable spot and could certainly lend a lot of credence to their overall status with a win this week.
The Chiefs offense got a needed positive development on Sunday. Other than a pick, Alex Smith had another good game and is now over 3500 yards passing. Giving the offense a lot of hope was Kareem Hunt finally stepping up and looking like he did earlier in the season with 116 and a TD. They got good games from playmaking tight end Travis Kelce and diverse talent Tyreek Hill. Theyve now put up 64 points in their last two games and look to be getting their act together. If they can get back to looking like the offense that started the season, things could fall into place for the Chiefs.
Over recent weeks, the Chiefs defense had slipped somewhat noticeably. Not that theyre a defense that can be depended on for total stoutness, but they were exceptionally leaky on occasion. In addition, they had stopped making plays and contributing to the overall team effort the way they were earlier in the season. On Sunday, Steven Terrell and Terrance Mitchell both had picks and they get CB Marcus Peters back this week after a one-week suspension. Justin Houston started showing his best form, as he had a sack on Sunday. In week four, they held the Chargers to ten points. But they will face an offense that is in far better form this time around.
The Chiefs showed they are maybe ready to finish the season strongly, but the Chargers surely have momentum in their corner. Arrowhead is still an awfully-tough place to play, especially against a Chiefs team that should be feeling some urgency. This could be justified as a spot for the Chargers to slip up a little. And anyone who has followed them over the years knows that their level of play generally reduces as the expectations and stakes increase. I still see the Chargers as being more reliable at this point in the season and I see them getting the job done at Arrowhead on Saturday. Im taking the Bolts.
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