Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)
The Chargers are 5-4, but their only win by more than one score came by 10 points against arguably the worst team in the league in the Houston Texans, while two of their losses came by 14 points or more, giving them a point differential of -28 (23rd in the NFL). That’s despite a +2 turnover margin, which is not predictive, and they are even worse than that in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 30th, 5.5 points below average, which is much more predictive than turnover margin.
The biggest problem for the Chargers has been their injuries, with stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among others, all out for extended periods of time. It seems like Allen and Williams could return this week, after practicing throughout the week, but they only practiced in a limited fashion and they are returning from injuries that have cost them seven games and two games respectively, so it’s far from a guarantee that they’ll play, that they’ll play at full strength, and that they’ll play the full game.
With Allen and Williams at least somewhat likely to return in some fashion, the Chargers are only 1.5 points below average in my roster rankings, which isn’t great, but it’s better than where they are in schedule adjusted efficiency. However, the Chiefs still fare much better in both, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 8 points above average, and 4th in my roster rankings, about 9 points above average. Not only do the Chiefs rank 3rd in the NFL in point differential at +64, but they have done it despite a -4 turnover margin, which should improve going forward.
The Chargers also have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, which has been the case since they arrived in the city in 2017, as they lack a local fanbase. As a result of largely playing in front of crowds that favor the road team, the Chargers are 16-27 ATS at home since moving in 2017, as opposed to 27-16 ATS on the road. Chiefs fans especially show up to games in Los Angeles and, unsurprisingly, the Chargers are 1-3 ATS against the Chiefs in Los Angeles. I want to wait on the status of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen before locking in a bigger bet, but getting the Chiefs as just 5-point favorites in what amounts to a neutral site game against a still banged up Chargers team seems like a great value. This is a medium confidence pick for now, but could end up as a high confidence pick.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -5