Chiefs-Chargers best bets: Kansas City out for revenge on TNF
Week 15 begins with a game worthy of the primetime spotlight, as the Los Angeles Chargers look to sweep the Kansas City Chiefs in a blockbuster clash, with the winner taking a big step towards winning the AFC West.
Here's how we're betting Chiefs-Chargers:
C Jackson Cowart: Chiefs -3
I've been reticent to buy into the Chiefs, who looked like a mediocre football team for half the season despite oddsmakers still pricing them as an elite one. Well, now they look like what everyone thought they'd be, and it's hard to imagine betting against them at a short number.
Kansas City has won six straight games and four straight ATS behind its electric defense, which has allowed a mere 10.8 points per game since the start of November - second-best in the NFL. This unit has turned it around thanks to a surging pass rush that has generated 16 sacks in those six contests, including four in Sunday's 48-9 beatdown of the Raiders.
The Chargers will likely be without rookie tackle Rashawn Slater, who has been the club's best lineman outside of All-Pro center Corey Linsley for an otherwise mediocre offensive line. That's a problem for a side that has already lost three of its last four games against teams with a winning record.
Alex Moretto: Edwards-Helaire anytime TD (+100)
With COVID-19 absences clouding many aspects of this game, one thing we know for certain is Los Angeles can't stop the run. The Chargers are allowing the second-most yards per carry (4.7) and have allowed the third-most rushing touchdowns. Edwards-Helaire managed 100 on the ground in the first meeting, and while he didn't rush for a touchdown, he did catch one.
CEH has been the clear lead back since returning from injury and has received 100% of the running back carries inside the 10-yard line over that span. The Chiefs have adopted a more run-heavy approach of late and will continue to do so here since that's the best way to attack this L.A. defense.
In a game with a high total, K.C.'s offense will give CEH plenty of opportunities to find paydirt given his usage - outside of garbage time - since returning. He's the clear lead-back in a mouth-watering matchup, but the market isn't pricing him as such.
Matt Russell: Chargers +3
COVID-19 giveth and taketh on Thursday Night Football. First, the Chargers ruled out offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, pushing the Chiefs to -4. Mere hours later, Kansas City sidelined star defensive lineman Chris Jones for the same reason. How that shakes out on the field might be the difference-maker in the game, but there's no way to know who's getting the best of the trade-off beforehand.
I'll revert to my original lean on this contest, which was being happy to get three points with Los Angeles here. We know what the Chargers will do on defense, as they originated the now popular idea of keeping everything in front of them against the Chiefs and forcing Patrick Mahomes to be patient.
Blowing out the Raiders twice - when Las Vegas was doing the exact opposite as L.A. defensively - doesn't quite make me believe Kansas City is back. Meanwhile, it's not a coincidence the Chiefs' defense became adequate when Jones came back from injury and moved inside. I'll take the Chargers in a matchup that might be more of a chess match than a shootout, as I think they can win outright at least half the time.