Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers
Sunday, September 9, 2018 – 4:05 pm Eastern TV: CBS, NFL Sunday Ticket
StubHub Center – Carson, California
Opening Line: Los Angeles -3
Current Line: Los Angeles -3 1/2
Opening Total: 48
Current Total: 49
Opening Money Line: Chargers -160 / Chiefs +140
Current Money Line: Chargers -180 / Chiefs +160
Two long time AFC West rivals open the 2018 NFL season as the Los Angeles Chargers host the Kansas Chiefs Sunday. This rivalry dates to the dawn of the AFL in 1960. Kansas City leads the series 60-55-1. The Chiefs have won seven straight games against the Chargers, including both meetings last season en route to winning the AFC West division title.
Kansas City went 10-6 last year under coach Andy Reid. Los Angeles was a game behind at 9-7 under first year coach Anthony Lynn. The Chiefs were upset in the Wild Card playoffs by the Tennessee Titans 22-21. The Chargers narrowly missed the playoffs. Kansas City went 2-2 in the pre-season this year while Los Angeles was also 2-2.
The Chiefs traded quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. Kansas City will start Patrick Mahomes whom they drafted in 2017 from Texas Tech.
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Los Angeles outscored opponents 22-17 last season. The Chargers were #3 in points allowed and #13 in scoring. LA averaged 377 yards per game on offense including 277 passing and 100 rushing yards. The Chargers were #4 in total offense and led the league in passing offense. On defense, the Chargers allowed 328 total yards per game including 197 passing and 131 rushing yards. Los Angeles was 89/220 on third and fourth conversions and opponents were 92/241. LA forced 43 sacks and allowed 18 last season. The Chargers were +12 in turnovers.
Quarterback Philip Rivers completed 62.6% of his passes for 4,515 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He was sacked 18 times. Cardale Jones beat out Geno Smith for the backup job.
Running back Melvin Gordon had 284 carries for 1,105 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 58 catches for 476 yards and 4 touchdowns. Austin Ekeler had 47carries for 260 yards with 2 touchdowns, along with 27 catches for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Receiver Keenan Allen had 102 catches for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. Receiver Tyrell Williams had 43 catches for 728 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with a foot injury. Tight end Hunter Henry is out with a torn ACL but could return late in the season. He had 45 catches for 579 yards and 4 touchdowns. Travis Benjamin has 34 catches for 567 yards and 4 touchdowns. Virgil Green will start at tight end but the Chargers resigned veteran Antonio Gates after releasing him earlier in the offseason. Six defensive players are listed on the injury report.
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Kansas City outscored teams 26-21 last season. Kansas City was #6 in scoring. The Chiefs averaged 375 total yards per game on offense including 257 passing and 119 rushing yards per game. KC was #9 or better in all three categories. Kansas City allowed 365 total yards per game on defense including 247 passing and 118 rushing. The Chiefs were #25 or worse in all three categories. The Chiefs were 81/209 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 92/224. Kansas City forced 31 sacks and allowed 37 sacks last season. The Chiefs were +15 in turnovers, and scored 4 defensive/special teams touchdowns.
Quarterback Alex Smith completed 67.5% of his passes for 4,042 yards with 26 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and had 60 carries for 355 yards and a touchdown. He had been sacked 35 times. Rookie Patrick threw for 284 yards with an interception.
Rookie running back Kareem Hunt had 272 carries for 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus 53 catches for 455 yards and 3 touchdowns. He led the league in rushing. Charcandrick West had 2 rushing touchdowns, and also has 27 catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Spencer Ware was supposed to be the starter but tore his ACL in the preseason. He returns but will back up Hunt.
Receiver Tyreek Hill had 75 catches for 1,183 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 17 carries for 59 rushing yards. He also had a punt return for a touchdown. Tight end Travis Kelce had 83 catches for 1,038 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Chiefs signed receiver Sammy Watkins who will start opposite Hill. Albert Wilson had 42 catches for 554 yards and 3 touchdowns. Demetrius Harris had 18 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. Demarcus Robinson had 21 catches for 212 yards. Chris Conley had 11 catches for 175 yards. De’Anthony Thomas has 12 catches for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns. Five defensive players are listed on the injury report along with three offensive linemen.
The Chiefs are 7-2 ATS in this series recently and have covered the last five road games against the Chargers. The road team is 5-1 ATS in this series while the favorite is 5-2. Six of the last eight games have gone under the total in this series.
These two teams will likely battle for the division title again, but the Raiders and Broncos should improve. Kansas City is a little banged up on defense, and I think Rivers can take advantage. I like the Chargers to win a close game and snap the losing streak against their rivals.