Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Line: Kansas City -5
Where: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
When: Sunday, 11/20 at 8:20 p.m. ET
The Kansas City Chiefs will try to beat the Los Angeles Chargers for the eighth straight time on the road when the AFC West rivals square off on Sunday night in primetime.
Kansas City has won three straight games, including a 27-17 win against Jacksonville last week. Los Angeles has lost two of its last three contests, falling to San Francisco on Sunday Night Football its last time out. The Chiefs picked up a 27-24 road victory when these teams met on Thursday night in Week 2, but they failed to cover the 4-point spread.
They opened as 5.5-point favorites in this matchup before the line quickly ballooned to -7. There has been some buyback since then, dropping the line back down to -5 as of Friday afternoon. Sunday night’s total opened at 50 and has been bet up to 52.
Kansas City has started to find its stride in recent weeks, winning three straight and five of its last six games. The Chiefs struggled their way to an overtime win against Tennessee two weeks ago before beating Jacksonville by 10 points last week.
They have the top scoring offense in the NFL, averaging nearly 31 points per game. However, wide receiver Mecole Hardman was placed on injured reserve Thursday and JuJu Smith-Schuster is going to be out on Sunday due to concussion protocol. Marquez Valdes-Scantling has been dealing with an illness, but he is expected to play as of now.
Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 2,936 yards, 25 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. His top target has been tight end Travis Kelce, who has 63 receptions for 740 yards and eight scores. Smith-Schuster, Valdes-Scantling and Hardman are the only other receivers with more than 215 yards, creating an interesting dynamic on Sunday.
“We put guys in position to succeed,” Mahomes said. “And so, for me, it’s about executing the offense, finding the open guy and getting the ball out my hands, letting those guys make plays. We’ve seen over the year that these guys can make plays in big moments. And so, we’ll give them those chances as well as have some younger guys step up.”
Running back Isiah Pacheco stepped up with 16 carries for 82 yards in the win over Jacksonville last week. He is facing a Los Angeles defense that has been solid against the pass, ranked No. 14 in passing yards allowed per game (209.3), but it is near the bottom of the league in run defense.
The Chargers are dealing with some injury issues of their own, as wide receivers Keenan Allen (hamstring) and Mike Williams (ankle) have both missed time. They have both returned to practice, but they are listed as ‘questionable’ for this game.
Los Angeles is coming off a loss to the 49ers in primetime last week, although it did cover the 7.5-point spread. Quarterback Justin Herbert completed 21 of 35 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, while running back Austin Ekeler ran six times for 24 yards. He still made an impact, catching seven passes for 39 yards, but the Chargers need to get him more involved on Sunday.
Herbert has been dealing with a rib injury since the loss to the Chiefs in Week 2, but he has played through it. DeAndre Carter and Josh Palmer have stepped up while Williams and Allen have been sidelined, but they have been lacking a deep threat.
“Sometimes you just have to hang tough, and I think our group has done a really good job of that,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “That’s just been the type of year it has been, but I think that our group is improving because we’re figuring out more ways to play.”
Kansas City is a perfect 5-0 in its last five Sunday Night Football games, but it is 1-4 ATS in its last five games against teams over .500. The Chargers have covered the spread in four of the last five meetings between these teams, and they have covered at a 6-3 clip this season.
The pick: Los Angeles +5
The line for this game has been moving all over the place due to various injury reports, but it is certainly looking like Kansas City is going to be dealing with more issues than Los Angeles. The Chargers have also been the more profitable team not only this season, but also in the recent head-to-head meetings. Herbert is continuing to get healthier, and he could have at least one of his key targets back on the field. Kansas City will have to find a different way to win without some of its top wideouts, and I am not ready to back the Chiefs in a road game that they will need to win by more than a field goal to cover.