Week 15 of the NFL season kicks off with an epic AFC West encounter, as the 11-2 Chiefs play host to the 10-3 Chargers. Whilst we’ve had some disappointing Thursday Night matchups, this is undoubtedly one of the games at the year. There are also huge playoff ramifications in this one, with both sides competing for the AFC West title. Kansas City seem to have waned a little of late, their potent offence feeling the effects of Kareem Hunt’s dismissal. Conversely, Los Angeles are in excellent form, comfortably winning 9 of their last 10 games. Let’s take a look at the best value here from a betting perspective.
Where to Watch: ESPN, 7 Mate or NFL Game Pass Friday 12:20 pm
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs enter this one at an AFC-leading 11-2, registering a comeback win over Baltimore last week. QB Patrick Mahomes cemented his strong case for MVP, throwing for 377 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyreek Hill had another outstanding day, hauling in 8 catches for 139 yards, but appears to be an injury doubt for this one. Tight End Travis Kelce has proven that he’s more than capable of carrying the load, with 1159 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. RB Spencer Ware was also serviceable replacing the released Kareem Hunt, registering 129 total yards from scrimmage.
Defensively, the Chiefs have been a mixed bag this season. Whilst they’ve had some poor performances, they’ve also held their opponents to 24 points or less in 5 of their last 7 games. With how well this offence is playing, the defence doesn’t need to do too much to keep them competitive each week. There is definitely some star power on this Chiefs defensive unit. Pass Rusher Dee Ford already has 11 sacks on the season and is capably supported by veteran Linebacker Justin Houston. The impending return of Free Safety Eric Berry will also provide this team a boost down the stretch.
Los Angeles Chargers
The 10-3 Chargers survived last week’s trap game, registering a 5-point home win over the lowly Bengals. QB Phillip Rivers is leading the way with another outstanding season, throwing for over 3600 yards and 29 touchdowns so far. Receiver Keenan Allen has done most of the damage, eclipsing 1000 yards this season and registering touchdowns in each of his last 5 games. RB Austin Ekeler has provided an excellent change-of-pace option, averaging 5.1 yards per carry on the season. With regular starter Melvin Gordon potentially back here, the Chargers offence could be firing at just the right time.
Defensively, the Chargers have been just as good this season. They’ve been competitive almost every week, holding their opponents to 23 points or less in 8 of their last 9 games. Their passing defence in particular has been excellent, holding Cincinnati to just 170 yards last week. The rush defence could serve to improve, allowing 144 yards to a struggling Bengals offence. In terms of star talent, it’s hard to look past the excellent pass-rushing duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Rookie Safety Derwin James has also looked like a revelation on this resurgent defence.
For me, this bet is all about line value. The lookahead line had the Chiefs -4.5 and both sides managed narrow home victories. Going through the key numbers of 4 and now 3, I have to think the value is on the Chiefs. As a point of reference, Pittsburgh were 3.5-point favourites over this same Chargers team a fortnight ago. Especially with their excellent home-field advantage, the Chiefs should be shown the same line respect here.
Thursday Night Football is also never easy on the road side. Los Angeles have a tough flight to make and a new time zone to adjust to in only a couple of days. The Chiefs have also completely dominated this series, winning each of the last 7 contests. With Mahomes under center, this is also the best Chiefs team in recent memory. You’re getting the best number laying only 3 points with Kansas City at home and I’m expecting both a win and the cover here.
Thursday Night Football games are typically lower scoring and I’m expecting that trend to continue here. 5 of the last 7 Chargers games have comfortably sailed below this total. Whilst both of these offences have been good this year, there are a few injuries that make me sceptical they can keep it up here. The injury to Tyreek Hill in particular very much hurts a Chiefs offence that has already lost Kareem Hunt.
Similarly, injuries to the top-two Chargers Running Backs could cause a one-dimensional offence here. The strength of the Chiefs defence is definitely their pass rush, with both Dee Ford and Justin Houston providing pressure off the edge. If neither LA or Kansas City can get in their usual rhythm, I expect this game to look similar to the Kansas City vs Baltimore contest last week. 53.5 points is a lot for a Thursday night game and I’m confident in the under here.
Chiefs Team Total Under 28
This ties in with my previous bet, suggesting a relatively low-scoring affair in Kansas City. Despite putting up solid numbers last week, I think Spencer Ware is a noticeable downgrade on Kareem Hunt. Tyreek Hill is also one of the league’s premier receivers and if he is even slightly limited the Chiefs offence won’t be as potent as usual. At 28 points, you’re essentially relying on them to score 4 touchdowns here. Having only given up 4 touchdowns twice, I’m confident the Chargers defence can contain KC here.
Score Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 27-23 Los Angeles Chargers