Before they start their playoff run, the Kansas City Chiefs have one more regular-season game against the rival Los Angeles Chargers. The action gets started at 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 29 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Fans west of the Mississippi, as well as a few fans to the east, can watch the game on CBS.
Current betting odds list the Chiefs as 9-point favorites at home with an over/under of 44.5 points. Be sure to check out all of the Week 17 NFL odds.
Kansas City has long wrapped up the AFC West, but their seed in the AFC playoffs is yet to be decided. The Chiefs can still earn the no. 2 seed behind Baltimore, giving them a first-round bye, if they beat the Chargers and the Patriots lose to the Dolphins. Obviously, it’s unlikely that New England will lose, but Andy Reid has already indicated that the Chiefs will play to win just in case. After all, if Kansas City loses and the Texans win, the Chiefs would fall to the no. 4 seed and face the 10-win Bills in the Wild Card Round. Either way, the Chiefs would be wise to keep their foot off the gas and continue building momentum after winning their last five games.
Meanwhile, the Chargers have gone from 12-4 and a playoff spot last year to last place in the AFC West in 2019, making them arguably the biggest disappointment in the NFL this year. With five losses in their last six games, the Chargers are 5-10 and will sit in the AFC West basement win or lose on Sunday. Despite the disappointing season, Anthony Lynn’s job should be safe come Monday. Philip Rivers has also indicated that he would like to continue playing.
While a win won’t mean much for the Chargers, they would like to turn the tide in their rivalry with the Chiefs. Los Angeles pulled off a 29-28 win when they visited Arrowhead last season, snapping a 9-game losing streak at the hands of Kansas City. However, the Chiefs got back on the winning side of things with a 24-17 Monday night win in Mexico City last month. That means the Chargers have lost 10 of their last 11 head-to-head meetings with the Chiefs.
The Chiefs are quietly peaking at the right time, winning their last two games by a combined score of 49-6. With Reid refusing to rest his starters, Kansas City should be able to keep rolling. The Chargers, to their credit, have only one loss this season by more than a touchdown. But I’m expecting them to have a hard time finding motivation, especially in a tough road environment. I like the Chiefs to put the hammer down this week and cover the 9-point spread.
With the Chiefs giving up a total of six points over the last two weeks and 17 points or less in five straight games, the Kansas City defense has taken center stage lately. In fairness, they’ve faced a slew of underwhelming quarterbacks during that span other than Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. The Chiefs will now get another chance to face Rivers, who threw four interceptions in the first meeting. Rivers has been a little better since then, but he’s still turnover-prone, throwing three picks against the Vikings two weeks ago. Against a hot defense in an unfavorable environment, I can envision Rivers having another poor, turnover-laden performance.
It certainly doesn’t help that the Chargers have struggled to generate a consistent rushing attack all season. Melvin Gordon has been held to a total of 43 yards on 16 carries over the past two weeks. He didn’t fare much better against the Kansas City defense last month, managing less than 70 yards. The Kansas City defense tends to struggle a little with mobile quarterbacks. However, the Chiefs have been otherwise solid against the run, so I’m not expecting the Chargers to do much damage on the ground this week.
If the Chargers are going to stay within striking distance, they’ll need a strong performance from their defense. There have only been three games this season in which L.A. has surrendered more than 24 points in a game. That could point to a close, low-scoring game that allows the Chargers to stay within a touchdown.
However, you still have to account for the explosiveness of the Kansas City offense. Damien Williams returned from injury to give the running game a boost last week. Patrick Mahomes has also been outstanding over the last three weeks. After scoring 26 points against a strong Chicago defense last week, I think the Chiefs can score 30-plus against the Chargers this week.
Admittedly, I could go either way on laying down the points in this game. As mentioned, it’s been rare that the Chargers have been blown out this season. However, Rivers is turnover prone and the Chiefs have an offense that can punish any mistake their opponent makes. With Kansas City set to take this game seriously and play to win, I think the Chiefs can win by double digits and cover the spread.