San Diego Chargers (4-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (9-1)
I’ve maintained all along that the Chiefs are not as good as their record. Going into last week’s game, they had the NFL’s easiest schedule according to DVOA, which doesn’t even take into account all of the backup quarterbacks they faced. However, despite that, they were 23rd in the NFL in points per drive. They proved that they weren’t as good as their record by failing to cover an 8 point spread in Denver last week in a 27-17 loss.
They have an elite defense for sure, but their offense might actually be one of the worst in the NFL. They’re way too reliant on winning the turnover battle (+15), return touchdowns (+7), and recovering fumbles (66.7%), three things that are tough to rely on consistently. They aren’t a bad team by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re not as good as their record. Football Outsiders has them 9th in DVOA, which I think is very reasonable.
The public still seems to be overrating them as they are all over them as 5.5 point favorites here. I think this might actually be a little high. The Chargers are better than their record. They are 1-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less. They move the chains at an 82% rate, as opposed to 80% for their opponents, which ranks 12th. In terms of DVOA, they are 16th. With the Chiefs moving the chains at a 72% rate, as opposed to 66% for their opponents, I have this line calculated at about 5 and even that might be too high.
The Chiefs are also in a bad spot. This is a sandwich game for them in between both Denver games. Teams are 74-96 ATS as favorites after a loss as underdogs before being underdogs once again since 2008. Meanwhile, since 1989, teams are 13-29 ATS as divisional home favorites before being divisional home dogs. The Chargers, on the other hand, are in a good spot as road underdogs off of a road loss. Teams are 98-58 ATS in this spot since 2008 and cover at close to a 65% rate historically no matter what year you use to cut off your sample. They lost in Miami in this same sandwich game spot last week, which is probably part of why they are being undervalued. Finally, favorites are 28-42 ATS as favorites off of their first loss week 6 or later since 1989. It’s a strong play on the Chargers.
San Diego Chargers 23 Kansas City Chiefs 20 Upset Pick +190
Pick Against Spread: San Diego +5.5