One of the biggest highlights of week 15 just so happens to also be the first game we will see as the (10-3) Los Angeles Chargers head to Arrowhead Stadium today to face the (11-2) Kansas City Chiefs with first place in the AFC West on the line (8.20PM ET Thursday live on FOX).
It’s hard to believe after the Chiefs started the season 5-1 and then 9-2 that the team is in a situation where if they lose, they find themselves needing a tiebreaker to win the division. But here we are.
Kansas City opened their season with a win over the Chargers, something that could well come into play when determining which of these two powerhouses wins the AFC West. The team won by a score of 38-28 in a game where MVP frontrunner Patrick Maholmes only threw for 256 yards. I say only, because that’s a paltry number compared to his season average of 307 yards per game. In fact, Maholmes’ 256 is his second lowest output of the season, bested only by the 249 he threw in the Chiefs victory over the Arizona Cardinals. So, good on the Chargers defense for that.
Following their victory over Los Angeles, Kansas City reeled off another four in a row to open their season 5-0. It was their second consecutive season of going 5-0 to start the slate. Unlike last year, when things started to fall apart (the Chiefs went just 1-6 following the 5-0 start), Kansas City rebounded from their first loss, against the New England Patriots, by immediately starting another four-game winning streak. They had victories over the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, Cleveland Browns and Cardinals.
This led to a fantastic showdown which lived up to its billing in every possible way. In week 11, the 9-1 Chiefs traveled to California to take on the 9-1 Los Angeles Rams in a game that many said could be a Super Bowl preview. It was the AFC’s best vs the NFC’s best, as the two teams who were the last to pick up losses (KC in week 6, LA in week 9) met in what is now being referred to as one of the NFL’s best games in years. The final score was 54-51, marking the first time in NFL history that both teams scored over 50 points in a single game. There were over 1,000 yards of offense, another rarity. When the dust finally settled, LA came out on top, scoring the go-ahead touchdown at the 1:49 mark. It was the fourth lead change of the fourth quarter.
There is a strong chance these teams will meet again in the Super Bowl, depending how they finish their seasons. LA already locked up the division but is in a heated race with the New Orleans Saints to determine home field advantage in the NFC. As for the Chiefs, if the playoffs started today, Kansas City would have its league’s home field with LA, despite having the second best record, serving as the fifth seed by nature of receiving the first wildcard spot. That’s why winning the division is so important and why LA will be looking to spoil the party in KC.
Los Angeles Chargers
The annual powerhouse of the AFC West in the mid-2000s, the Chargers have been on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture ever since winning their last divisional title in 2009. Perhaps the move from San Diego to LA deserves some credit as since the move in 2017, the Chargers have returned to their winning ways. Last year, LA won nine games for the first time since 2014. This year, they have guaranteed themselves at least 10 wins, meaning this will be their best season since 2009. If they win out, they will match that year’s win total with 13. Yet 2018 started much the way recent Chargers seasons have, with a couple losses.
LA opened the year 1-2, meaning by week four, they were already two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West. With Kansas City going 9-1, they certainly weren’t making it easy for the Chargers to catch up. After going 1-2, with losses over the Chiefs and Rams, the Chargers handled their business and the easy part of their schedule, by going on a six-game winning streak.
The third loss of the season for LA came in week 11 against the Broncos. Remember that tiebreaker I talked about earlier? That comes into play here because if the Chargers are to win this final Thursday night game of the season, they will tie the Chiefs record-wise and both will be 1-1 in the head-to-head. LA would have two losses in the division compared to just one for KC. That’s a story potentially for another day.
After losing to the Broncos, LA won their next three, which brings us to this NFL game.
Our Preview’s Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Picks & Predictions Verdict
The Chargers enter on a three-game winning streak, KC on a two-game one, following a thrilling overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens. Both teams have been playing incredibly well and both have prolific offenses. KC is 1st in yards, 3rd in passing yards, 15th in rushing yards and 1st in points per game. LA is 6th in yards, 9th in passing yards, 12th in rushing yards and 5th in points per game.
Defensively, the edge goes to the Chargers as the team ranks top-10 in yards allowed and points per game compared to Kansas City which ranks 28th in points per game allowed to opponents and 30th in yards allowed. As mentioned earlier, LA held Maholmes, whose 43 touchdowns and 4,300 passing yards lead the NFL by a mile, to under 270 yards. He did have four touchdowns however, showing the team’s defense didn’t exactly stop him.
It comes down to this really. LA has the team that could win this game. Philip Rivers is having a great year as QB and he has got the weapons. Defensively, LA has held together well. In order to beat KC, you have to be more than good, you have to play your best game. Baltimore found that out the hard way as despite taking a 24-17 lead through all but 53 seconds of the fourth quarter, the team just couldn’t prevent Maholmes’ magic which lead to the game-tying touchdown and shortly after in overtime, the game-winning field goal.
These are the LA Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs predictions for this preview:
- Kansas City comes into this one favored by 3.5 points, which is a slim margin given they are at home. The U.S. offshore oddsmakers respect the Chargers and how they have played this year and you should too. The first of our picks for today’s Thursday night NFL game is to take LA +3.5pt @ best odds of -110 with Bovada or Intertops.
- While the Chargers have a decent defense, look for offense to win out in a game that goes over the 53.5 total points to be scored @ best odds of -110 with Intertops.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.