Chargers-Chiefs Betting Preview & Pick: Where is the edge in this tight matchup?
Week 14 Recap: After failing to hit the under in Thursday night’s matchup between the Jaguars and Titans, I rattled off four consecutive ATS picks from Sunday to Monday to post a 4-1 record in Week 14. The Colts (+4 at Texans) and Bears (+3 vs. Rams) won outright as underdogs, while the Packers smoked the Falcons as a 4-point home favorite. The week was capped off on Monday night when the Seahawks won an ugly defensive struggle as a 3-point favorite over the Vikings. I am now 46-26-3 against the spread this NFL season.
Tonight, the Chiefs have an opportunity to clinch the AFC West Division and take another step closer towards the No. 1 overall seed in the conference. Standing in their way are the Chargers, who can still win the division themselves but they find themselves as a small road dog tonight.
- Spread: Chiefs -3.5
- O/U: 53.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
Oddsmakers posted the line for tonight’s game at Kansas City -3.5 and that’s where the spread sits as of Thursday morning. The total, meanwhile, hit the board at 56.5 but was bet down to 53.5.
Fifty-two percent of the betting tickets for tonight’s game is on the Chiefs to cover the point spread and so is 51 percent of the money wagered at online sportsbooks. As for the total, 70 percent of the betting tickets and 71 percent of the money is on the over.
The Chargers have not fared well in this series, failing to cover the spread in all four of their last four games versus the Chiefs. That said, the road team is 6-1 at the betting window in the last seven meetings between these two teams.
This matchup is as close as it gets on paper. The Chiefs are No. 1 at Football Outsiders in terms of overall team efficiency while the Chargers rank No. 2. Offensively, Kansas City again is No. 1 by the Football Outsiders metrics and L.A. is No. 2. Defensively is where the discrepancy lies, as the Chargers rank ninth and the Chiefs are No. 26. That said, Kansas City also has the better special teams and has home-field advantage, which is huge with both teams playing on a short week. If you’re looking for a significant statistical edge tonight, you won’t find one.
Both teams are also dealing with injuries. Melvin Gordon (knee) will be a game-time decision while his backup, Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion), has been ruled out. If Gordon doesn’t play, that means third-string rookie Justin Jackson will draw the start.
On the other side, Eric Berry (questionable, heel) is expected to play and so is Tyreek Hill (questionable, heel/wrist). How effective will both players be? That remains to be seen, especially Hill, who is dealing with multiple injuries on top of playing off a short week.
Okay, so where’s the edge for bettors?
For me, there are two. The first one lies with Philip Rivers, who remains one of the most underrated signal-callers in the league, but he also has struggled against Bob Sutton, Kansas City’s defensive coordinator. In the previous nine meetings between these two teams, the Chiefs won all nine and Sutton’s scheme has given Rivers fits. In those nine games, the Chargers averaged just 15 points per contest and Rivers has thrown 12 interceptions to just 14 touchdowns over that span.
The other edge I see is in the trenches. Despite Kansas City’s struggles on defense this year, the one thing the Chiefs do well is get after the passer. They’re behind only Pittsburgh (3.5) in sacks per game (3.2) and average 4.0 sacks per contest at Arrowhead. The trio of Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Chris Jones could give L.A.’s offensive line all sorts of problems tonight.
Here’s how I see this game playing out: I expect the first half to be tight. These opponents know each other well and the Chargers aren’t traveling from L.A. to Kansas City to get their doors blown off by a division rival. That said, I’ll take Andy Reid over Anthony Lynn every time when it comes to halftime and in-game adjustments. In the second half, I expect the Chargers to get impatient with their offense, start putting the ball in the air more and play right into the Chiefs’ strength defensively, which is their pass-rush. As previously mentioned, Rivers has struggled against Sutton-led defenses and a turnover could turn this game around in an instant.
While this matchup is close on paper, the bottom line for me is that I get Reid, Patrick Mahomes and home-field advantage for the low price of a field goal. Throw in the fact that the Chargers have struggled in this series and I’ll lay the points, although I highly recommend buying the hook in what should be a close game throughout.
Pick: Chiefs -3 (buy the hook to ensure you only lay a field goal)
ATS Season Records
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 3-1-1
- Week 5: 3-2
- Week 6: 4-1
- Week 7: 2-3
- Week 8: 3-2
- Week 9: 4-1
- Week 10: 3-2
- Week 11: 2-2-2
- Week 12: 5-3
- Week 13: 1-3
- Week 14: 4-1
- Overall: 46-26-3
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.