Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) at Los Angeles Chargers (0-0)
|Date & Time||Sunday September 9, 2018, 4:05 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Los Angeles Chargers -3 -- Over/Under: 47.5
We have some opening week NFL action as the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West division tilt.
The Kansas City Chiefs will be looking to build on a solid 2017 campaign that saw the Chiefs finish with a 10-6 record which was good enough to win the AFC West division title for the second straight season, but that was all that the Chiefs would do as they’d be bounced from the postseason in the Wild Card round with a 22-21 loss to Tennessee. Patrick Mahomes now has the keys to the Chiefs’ offense after Kansas City traded starter Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins. Mahomes impressed in his lone start for KC last season, throwing for 284 yards on 22 of 35 passing. Kareem Hunt is back to lead the Chiefs’ ground attack after racking up 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns last season, while Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce boast a formidable receiving duo for KC, combining for 158 catches and over 2,200 receiving yards with 15 combined TDs last season, and now can also added speedster Sammy Watkins to the list after losing 39 catches for 593 yards and 8 touchdowns for the Rams last season. Defensively, Justin Houston and Eric Berry are in charge of leading a Chiefs’ defense that was uncharacteristically poor last season, finishing 5th-worst in terms of total defense, and 4th worst against the pass.
The Los Angeles Chargers will be looking to pick up where they left off last season, despite not making the playoffs, the Charger rebounded from an 0-4 start by winning 9 of their last 12 games to finish above .500 at 9-7. Philip Rivers is back as the team’s starting QB once again after throwing for over 4,500 yards, 28 touchdowns and 10 picks last season. Melvin Gordon returns at running back after leading L.A. with 1,105 rushing yards and 8 scores last season, while Keenan Allen was finally able to have his first fully healthy season since 2014, playing in all 16 games, starting 15, while racking up 102 receptions for 1,393 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Chargers will be looking to improve their efforts in defending the run, finishing 2nd last in the NFL allowing over 131 rushing yards per game last season while being stout against the pass, allowing just 197.3 passing yards per game last season. The pass rush has to be better to help out where the secondary is carrying the load however, as the Chargers finished dead last in the league with just 18 sacks last season.
Kansas City is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games while the under is 4-1 in their last 5 games against the AFC. Los Angeles is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games and 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 week 1 matchups while the under is 5-0 in their last 5 division matchups. Kansas City is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings between these two teams and 5-0 ATS in the last 5 meetings in Los Angeles.
The Chiefs have had the upper hand against the Chargers ATS in L.A./San Diego, but that was with a proven quarterback like Alex Smith leading the charge. I’m not saying Mahomes can’t be a good quarterback, but I need to see more than one start before giving the Chiefs some credit on the road. Los Angeles has done a good job over the years in terms of starting the year strong ATS, and the Chargers, despite not making the playoffs, had the stronger finish to last season so I’ll hope that it carries over to week 1 and I’ll lay the field goal with the Chargers here.