Kansas City Chiefs (11-4) at San Diego Chargers (8-7)
I’m going to keep this one short. If you bet any money on this game, you’re a degenerate gambler. Seek help. Kansas City has already locked up the 5 seed in the AFC. Andy Reid, like he did several times in Philadelphia, will only play his starters for a series or two, much like a pre-season game, and then get his 2nd team some reps, so guys can rest for the playoffs.
It’s the right call. Some people seem to believe Reid should play his starters for momentum purposes, whatever that means, but there’s no evidence that there’s any benefit to that. Since 2002, teams that lose week 17 are 15-15 in the first round of the playoffs. Teams who win week 17 are 29-29. What there is evidence for is that it is possible for a bone to break or a muscle or ligament to tear during a week 17 game. Keep your guys healthy and focus on the playoffs. Momentum doesn’t exist.
San Diego, meanwhile, could have the meaning from this game sucked out of it before it even starts. The only way they can make the playoffs is if both Miami and Baltimore lose. Both of those teams play in the earlier time slot, while the Chargers play in the late afternoon slot. Chances are, one of those teams will win their game and eliminate San Diego before this one even starts. They could still give it their all in spite of that and play for future jobs and playing time and they’ll certainly be game planning all week like it’s a meaningful game. However, would you really blame them for giving it less than 100% hours after getting eliminated? And also, how do you game plan for an opponent’s 2nd string?
That brings me to my 2nd point. How good is Kansas City’s 2nd string? Probably not very good, but how not very good? Are they better than every NFL’s teams 1st strings? Also, how much will Andy Reid rest his starters? Will they play one drive? Will they play two? Will he only rest his stars and play the rest of his starters? What constitutes a star? How good is Kansas City with some starters? How good are they with starters playing one drive? How good are they with starters playing two drives? How am I supposed to figure this one out and will San Diego even be in a position we’re they’re taking this one seriously? How did the odds makers even come up with a spread for this one? Where did 9.5 come from? Do the odds makers even know or did they just throw a dart at a board? I think San Diego will probably win this game, but that’s about where the even semi-confident predictions stop.
I do have to give a pick, for my own records and for people with ATS pick ‘em leagues, so I’m going with San Diego, for two reasons. One is simply to fade the public, who seems to be very confidently on Kansas City for whatever reason. The public always loses money in the long run (probably because they bet on ridiculous games like this) so it’s a good idea to be on the opposite side of them. That’s a good tiebreaker when you need one.
The 2nd reason is because I feel San Diego is an underrated team. They are 8-7, but 5-2 in games decided by more than a touchdown and just 3-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less. They are moving the chains at a 78.56% rate, as opposed to 75.33% for their opponents, a differential of 3.22%, which ranks 9th in the NFL. They would deserve to be 9.5 point favorites over anyone from St. Louis (23rd in rate of moving the chains differential) and worse.
I don’t know how to compare whatever Kansas City is coming with this week vs. the St. Louis Rams, but the Rams are probably better, though, again, I don’t know what San Diego’s mental state is going to be. However, because the Chargers are underrated, I’m going to assume we’re getting line value with them somehow, fade the public and take the Chargers, gun to my head. But again, if you bet money on this game, seek help.
Side note: I just read the first sentence of this and saw that it said “I’m going to keep this short” and realized I wrote over 750 words. Apparently I’m incapable of keeping it short because I just wrote 750 words on how I don’t know anything about this game. Maybe I should seek help.
San Diego Chargers 31 Kansas City Chiefs 20
Pick against spread: San Diego -9.5