With the AFC West already won, the Kansas City Chiefs will try to close out the 2019 regular season with another win over their division rival, the Los Angeles Chargers, on Sunday. Oddsmakers have made the Chiefs nine-point favorites at home, with an over/under of 46 points.
This was not the season the Chargers had in mind after going 12-4 and winning a playoff game last year. But Anthony Lynn’s team never got things going on either side of the ball.
Things have grown a little worse late in the year, as the Chargers have lost five of their last six games and have already secured a last-place finish in the AFC West.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs have won the division for the fourth straight season. Of course, Kansas City has its sights set on other things despite being just 2-5 in playoff games under Andy Reid.
The Chiefs will need a win and a New England loss to get a bye next week, so the odds are good that they’ll be playing on Wild Card weekend. But Reid has indicated the Chiefs will play to win and won’t be looking to rest their starters in Week 17.
Keep It Quiet
Kansas City has almost been an afterthought this year, but they are quietly playing their best late in the season. Running back Damien Williams finally returned from injury last week to give the Kansas City offense a little more balance.
There’s also nothing wrong with the way Patrick Mahomes has played since dealing with an injury earlier this season. His numbers don’t quite stack up to last year’s stats, but he looked sharp against a strong Chicago defense last week and has led the Chiefs to the fourth-most points in the NFL this year.
That being said, the Kansas City defense has been the real difference-maker this season. The Chiefs have allowed 17 points or less in their last five games, making it that much easier for Mahomes and the offense.
Their opposition during that time hasn’t been all that impressive, but the Kansas City defense no longer appears to be the liability it was in 2018.
No Help In Sight
Much has been made this year of Philip Rivers, who plans to play in 2020 despite arguably the worst season of his career. But Rivers hasn’t exactly received much help from his supporting cast.
The Los Angeles rushing attack has been lacking all season. Even late in the year, Melvin Gordon hasn’t gotten much going, gaining just 43 rushing yards on 16 carries over the last two games.
That’s put a lot of pressure on Rivers, who continues to be turnover-prone despite throwing for over 4,300 yards this year.
Defensively, there’s still some hope for the Chargers. Outside of their 39-10 blowout at the hands of the Vikings two weeks ago, the Los Angeles defense has kept the team in games.
That was the only game this season a team has scored more than 30 points against the Chargers, who have talent at all three levels and a pass rush that can be vicious when playing with the lead.
Close But No Cigar
The Chargers have been on the short end of many close losses this year. Again, the game two weeks ago against the Vikings is the outlier, as it’s the only game this year they lost by more than a touchdown.
That includes a competitive 24-17 loss to the Chiefs last month in which Los Angeles outgained Kansas City by over 100 yards but hurt itself with four turnovers. With that in mind, bet on the Chargers to beat the nine-point spread despite taking another loss.