There have been a handful of solid Thursday Night Football matchups this season. Cowboys – Bucs Week 1, Cardinals – Packers Week 8, and Steelers – Vikings last week. Tonight’s matchup has the potential to be better than all of those games.
It’s the Chiefs (9-4) vs the Chargers (8-5) in an AFC West battle, kicking off at 8:20 EST. The two last met in Week 3 when the Chargers traveled to Kansas City to beat the Chiefs 30-24. The game went down to the wire, as Justin Herbert threw a touchdown pass with just 30 seconds remaining to seal the win for LA. Chiefs fans were quick to put the game behind them, thanks in large part to their offense turning the ball over four times while their defense allowed the same number of passing touchdowns.
In Week 3, Kansas City was favored by -6.5 and considered the easy moneyline pick. This week things are a little different. The Chiefs are still favored at -3, but that could be generous all things considered. Three of the last five meetings between LA and KC have been decided by one score, and Los Angeles has consistently played up to the Chiefs’ standards.
Kansas City has been red hot over the past six weeks, walking about with wins in each of them. A major part of those six wins was their defensive performance, allowing no more than 17 points in that stretch. There is a caveat, their competition during that stretch either hasn’t been good, or hasn’t been healthy.
To kick off their win streak the Chiefs beat the Giants, who fall into the “not good” category. Next, they faced the Packers, who are a good team, but were without Aaron Rodgers. In that game, Kansas City put up only 13 points. Week 10 saw the Chiefs face the Raiders for the first time this season, again, not exactly a good team. After the Raiders game, KC had another challenge in the form of the Cowboys. For anyone watching this game, it was bad on both sides. Dallas was without Amari Cooper, but that’s no excuse considering the talent they have. They were able to hold Patrick Mahomes from throwing a touchdown, but weren’t able to overcome themselves, nor Kansas City. That brings us to last Sunday, where the Chiefs made the Raiders look like a JV high school football team, winning 48-9.
Los Angeles, on the other hand, has been one of the most confusing teams this season. Their defense has given up 20 points in all but two of their games this season, and allow the 7th most points per game as a team, behind the likes of Jacksonville, Detroit, Houston. Their offense on the other hand can be lethal. Los Angeles ranks 6th in team offense, a standing that is supported by the production of Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Keenan Allen.
The Chargers can’t continue to rely on their offense to bail them out, though. If they had a defense as consistent as their offense they would look like a Super Bowl contender. Head coach Brandon Staley told the press he was optimistic that S Derwin James (hamstring) could play, and his availability would help in guarding tight end Travis Kelce, but it will need to be a team effort. Tonight, their defense has the opportunity to prove they have what it takes to win games without Herbert playing hero.
Injuries & Team Health
- Offensive Line – Kansas City has a clear advantage here, with the only injury being to G Andrew Wylie, putting their overall O-Line health at Optimal. The Chargers, on the other hand, have battled a few injuries throughout the season. Most recently C Corey Linsley was limited in practice with a back injury. Overall, their O-Line health is Moderate.
- Offensive Skill Players – Kansas comes out on top again. WR Tyreek Hill has had some injury concerns this season, but lately nothing notable. Los Angeles hasn’t been so lucky. WR Mike Williams and RB Austin Ekeler are both fighting injuries. The two were seen at practice yesterday, which is a good sign. Williams is considered active, but Ekeler is questionable. There is an expectation Ekler will play, however nothing has been made official yet.
- Defensive Line – Another point for the Chiefs; their health is again, Optimal. It is worth noting LB Willie Gay Jr will be out with COVID-19/Reserve. Los Angeles should have all starters good to go after Linval Joseph and Justin Jones both were FP at Wednesday’s practice, but their injuries could lead to fewer snaps.
- Defensive Secondary – The Chiefs sweep all four categories, walking away with an overall Good Health Score for their secondary. They will be without S Chris Lammons (ankle), and CB Rashad Fenton has been fighting a hamstring injury but will be active. The Chargers’ Health Score is Moderate. CB Asante Samuel Jr is questionable following a concussion, as is S Derwin James (hamstring).
Kansas City is clearly the healthier team. Their Health Score is 4.6 compared to Los Angeles’ 2.9.
Both teams have stellar offenses and lackluster defenses, so the over (52.5) is an interesting bet. In spite of the Health Scores, we expect a repeat of Week 3, with the Chargers coming out on top and covering the spread (+3).