The Los Angeles Chargers head to Arrowhead to square off against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday. At the same time in Foxborough, the New England Patriots will play host to the Miami Dolphins, and the Houston Texans will host the Tennessee Titans a few hours later. All three games have meaning for Kansas City, as it could finish anywhere from the No. 2 seed in the AFC to the No. 4 seed, with No. 3 being the most likely of those scenarios. The Chargers, beyond playing for pride, will try to thwart the efforts of their division rival.
The Chiefs have won five straight since losing to the Titans in Tennessee six weeks ago, including a 23-16 victory over the Patriots, and a 24-17 win over the Chargers in Los Angeles. The Chargers have only taken home a win in one of their last six games but would love to hand a late-season loss to an AFC West team.
The Chiefs are favored by 8.5 headed into the contest. The over/under is 46.5.
‘Til the Rivers Run Dry
Philip Rivers prepares to suit up for what may be the final snaps of his 14-year career. The 38-year-old says he will take some time after the season to address his future. For now, he looks to put at least one last beating on the Chiefs.
Rivers isn’t having a career year by any means but has been no slouch either. He’s put up 4,334 yards and 25 touchdowns but, unfortunately, has tied his second-worst season for interceptions with 18. Rivers threw 21 in 2016.
The running back tandem of Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon Jr. has been among the best in the league since Gordon returned from his early-season holdout. While he sat, Ekeler proved once again that he could be an every-down back whether Gordon plays or not.
Ekeler has 1,461 total yards and 11 scores on the season. Ekeler is only 50 yards away from his first 1,000-yard receiving season. He’s been relied on more heavily in the passing game than the run since Gordon’s return.
The Rolling Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes has thrown only four picks this season. Yes, he missed two starts, but four picks in 13 starts is still quite amazing. He’s thrown for 3,857 yards and 25 touchdowns, completing 66 percent of his passes, and adding a couple more scores running.
Mahomes is the complete package when healthy. The Chiefs’ offense ranks fourth in the NFL, putting up 28 points per game. Their passing offense also ranks fourth, averaging 288.3 yards per game.
The Chiefs’ defense has barely been average this season, but over the last three games, they’ve impressed. They went from giving up 348.5 yards per game to only allowing 254.3 in their last three games.
Their passing defense has been pretty effective, as they’ve only given up an average of 219 yards per game, and only 172 in their last three. That ranks seventh in the league. On the flip side, their rushing defense ranks only 26th in the league.
The Chiefs rushing defense will be a problem against a pair of backs that have been a problem for defenses all season. Look for the Chargers to keep it run-heavy in this shootout, though you can bet Rivers will sling it around as well.
The only team worse than the Chargers at covering this season is the Bears, as Los Angeles is only 4-9-2 against the spread. The Chiefs are 10-5 against the spread, tied with three other teams as best in the league. The Chargers buck that trend this week, as they keep it closer than the 8.5. The pick is Los Angeles to cover.
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