San Diego Chargers (3-9) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-5)
The Chargers are just 3-9, one of the worst records in the NFL, but rank 14th in rate of moving the chains differential. How can that be? Well, their record is largely the result of a 3-5 record in games decided by a touchdown (3-6 in games decided by 8 points or fewer), a -8 turnover margin, a -5 return touchdown margin, a -8.2 yards per kickoff return margin, and a -3.7 net punt margin. On the season, they’ve actually outgained their opponents. None of those things suggests anything deeply wrong with this team, but rather that they have the framework of a decent team and just need to clean some things up. They’ve won the rate of moving the chains battle in 7 of 12 games and could easily be 5-7, 6-6, or even 7-5.
Because of this, I’ve been putting money on them pretty religiously of late, but that’s been a mistake because they’ve been at home in 4 of their last 6 games. The Chargers have had basically no homefield advantage this season. They seem to have no fans in San Diego, so their stadium has been overrun with visiting fans pretty much every game this year, meaning they essentially have to play 16 road games this season. I feel bad for the few Chargers fans who do show up because they’re going to lose their team, but the Chargers have a borderline obligation to move up to Los Angeles if this continues. It’s not fair to the team to not have any true home games and it also really hurts their chances of signing key free agents. The Chargers are 1-6 ATS at home this season. I should have known earlier in the season not to bet them at home, but I know now and better late than never.
On the road is a different story. The Chargers have covered their last 3 road games and, while they’re 3-2 ATS on the road overall this season, one of their non-covers was a 5 point loss as 3 point underdogs in Cincinnati against the Bengals, who turned out to be one of the best teams in the league. The Chargers have just one double digit road loss this season and, if they can keep it close on the road against the Bengals and Packers (two teams the Chiefs have lost to), they should be able to keep it close in Kansas City.
Given all of that, this line is way too high at 10.5. The line was actually 8 last week, but it has since shifted and I love fading significant line movements whenever it makes sense because they tend to be overreactions to a single week of play. The public is still on the Chiefs though because they remember the Chiefs’ 33-3 win in San Diego a few weeks ago. It was a bad loss, but that was the Chargers’ worst performance of the season (and arguably the Chiefs’ best), so it’s important not to focus on that game too much, especially since we know that the game being in San Diego isn’t really an advantage for the Chargers. The Chargers are also in a great spot in this one, hosting the lowly Dolphins next week, a game in which the Chargers are expected to be favored. Double digit underdogs are 54-32 ATS since 2002 before being favorites.
The Chargers are banged up in this one, missing wide receivers Steve Johnson and Dontrelle Inman, defensive end Corey Liuget, and cornerback Brandon Flowers, but they’ve been banged up all season. The Chargers’ offense hasn’t been the same since losing top wide receiver Keenan Allen, but the Chiefs are banged up right now too, missing safety Husain Abdullah, defensive end Mike DeVito, and, most importantly, outside linebacker Justin Houston. Houston is one of the best edge rushers in the league and the Chiefs defense did not look the same without him in Oakland last week. The only reason this isn’t my Pick of the Week is because the Chiefs are favored by 5 on the early line in Baltimore next week and teams are 75-51 ATS before being 4+ point road favorites and 46-30 ATS before being 6+ point road favorites, since 2012. The Chargers are the right side though.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 San Diego Chargers 20
Pick against the spread: San Diego +10.5