Things are heating up in the AFC West as the Los Angeles Chargers play host to the Kansas City Chiefs to kick off Week 15 of the NFL season. The Chargers won in Arrowhead Stadium 30-24 earlier this season but haven’t beat the Chiefs in a home game since 2013 when they were still in San Diego. On Thursday, the Chiefs are favored by three points, with the over/under listed at 52 points.
The Chargers have won by lopsided margins in back-to-back weeks, giving them three wins in their last four games. At 8-5, they lead the Wild Card race in the AFC and are just one game behind Kansas City in the AFC West. With a win this week, the Chargers will tie the Chiefs atop the division and have the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Of course, the Chiefs are still in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, at least for now. Kansas City has rattled off six straight wins and appears to be on the right track. But in addition to trying to close out the AFC West, the Chiefs are in a three-way tie for the best record in the AFC, so they can’t afford to let their foot off the gas.
Jekyll and Hyde
We’ve seen two different versions of the team’s offense during Kansas City’s six-game winning streak. In two games against the Raiders, the Chiefs have scored 89 total points. But in the four other games during that stretch, the Chiefs have scored a total of 74 points, which amounts to just 18.5 points per game.
If you take away the two games with Las Vegas, Patrick Mahomes has just four touchdown passes and three interceptions in those four games, so it might be premature to say the Kansas City offense is back.
On the bright side, the Kansas City defense has been great over those six games, regardless of the opponent. The Chiefs have allowed nine points in their last three games and scored a defensive touchdown in back-to-back games. The Kansas City pass rush is starting to come alive, which has positively influenced the entire defense.
One could argue that Justin Herbert looks like the best quarterback in the AFC West these days. While he’s still turning the ball over a little too much, Herbert has thrown 11 touchdown passes in his last four games while completing over 70% of those passes in those contests.
While the LA rushing attack still leaves something to be desired, Herbert has four or five reliable receiving targets, making the team’s passing attack tough to defend.
Of course, the Chargers aren’t winning many games because of their defense, which hasn’t kept a team under 21 points since Week 4. The defensive line is a little banged up these days, which isn’t helping the Chargers stop the run, which has been a concern for them all year. The Chargers have also had problems generating a consistent pass rush this season outside of Joey Bosa’s 8.5 sacks.
Not So Fast
In the first meeting between these teams, the Chiefs turned the ball over four times, which is unlikely to happen again. The Kansas City defense is also in a much better place and should fare better, especially if the Chargers don’t get extra possessions. Bet on the Chiefs to stay hot and cover the three-point spread on Thursday.
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