Chiefs-Chargers Betting Preview
- Matchup: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
- Date: Sunday, Oct. 22 (Week 7)
- Time: 4:25 p.m. EST
- Location: GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)
- Moneyline: Chargers +194, Chiefs -235
- Spread: Chargers +5.5 (-110), Chiefs -5.5 (-110)
- Total: Over/Under 47.5 (-115/-105)
Odds from FanDuel Sportsbook. Subject to change.
Week 7 of the 2023 NFL schedule gives us the latest installment of an AFC West rivalry that’s been closely contested in recent years as the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs meet at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chargers are coming off a Monday night home loss to the Dallas Cowboys that felt strikingly familiar. Los Angeles fell behind, tied the game in the fourth quarter, let Dallas take a three-point lead and finally lost 20-17 with a late-game mistake sealing the outcome.
Justin Herbert threw an interception with 1:22 remaining, clinching a Cowboys win in front of an L.A. stadium jammed with Dallas fans and sending the Chargers to their third loss this season decided by three points or fewer.
Since losing the league’s season-opening game at home to the Detroit Lions, the Chiefs have won five straight, with their most recent win coming last Thursday against the Denver Broncos.
Kansas City’s offense played unevenly, but Travis Kelce still had nine catches for 124 yards with his musician friend watching from a private suite, while the K.C. defense feasted on Denver’s inept offense in a 19-8 victory.
The Chiefs’ 5-1 record has them atop their division, while the Chargers sit in third place at 2-3. On the futures board, Kansas City’s Super Bowl title odds are the second-best at +500. Los Angeles has the 12th-best odds to win it all at +3200.
In the Patrick Mahomes Era, the primary reason for taking the Chiefs as a moneyline winner has been their offense. Bettors should feel comfortable picking a team quarterbacked by the two-time NFL MVP as a straight-up winner, but the main reason why Kansas City is a reliable bet in this matchup resides on the other side of the ball.
Kansas City’s defense has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 21 points in a game, and it’s allowing the second-fewest points per game in the league (14.7 PPG).
After holding out during training camp and missing K.C.’s first game, defensive tackle Chris Jones has been dominant, piling up 5.5 sacks in five games, while second-year edge defender George Karlaftis leads the Chiefs with 27 pressures.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s secondary was overhauled prior to last season, and the youth movement provided plenty of growing pains last season before rounding into form in time for the Chiefs’ second title under Andy Reid.
The team’s defensive backs have continued their ascent in 2023, a run highlighted by an impressive collective effort against Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson two weeks ago, when the Vikings’ star wideout was held to just three catches for 28 yards before he left the game in the fourth quarter with a hamstring injury.
The Chargers have no wideouts who are remotely close to as good as Jefferson, especially with Mike Williams out for the season after suffering an ACL tear in Week 3. Los Angeles is also without former All-Pro center Corey Linsley, whom the team placed on injured reserve with a heart issue.
Backup Will Clapp has filled in admirably for the 10-year veteran, but a backup center trying to slow down Jones is a dicey proposition. So is picking against a Chiefs team armed with a quality defense when the game is at Arrowhead.
The recent results in this division rivalry have been one-sided, as the Chiefs have won 15 of 18 dating back to 2014 when the Chargers were still based in San Diego. Los Angeles coach Brandon Staley has been on the sidelines for four of those games, winning once with three close losses, and L.A. has covered the spread in each of the last two.
The expectation here is that the Chargers cover again.
Staley’s team has had a fourth-quarter lead in each of the four games he’s coached against the Chiefs, but since a six-point Week 3 win in Kansas City two years ago, the Chargers have lost the last three by agonizingly close margins.
Kansas City won by six points in overtime in Los Angeles in 2021, then won both meetings last season by three.
In the Justin Herbert era, the Chargers are 5-1 against the spread versus the Chiefs and 10-1 in games when they’re getting more than three points.
Expect that trend to continue with Kansas City’s offense still a work in progress – the Chiefs’ search for answers included the re-acquisition of wide receiver Mecole Hardman in a trade this week with the New York Jets.
Herbert has put up solid numbers against the Chiefs, tossing 15 touchdown passes against four picks with a passer rating of 107.3, and his better statistical performances have come when playing in Kansas City.
He’s also arguably the game’s best passer against the blitz, completing a league-best 74.7% of his passes with the second-most touchdown passes (7) when getting blitzed. Spagnuolo is sending pressure on nearly 40% of opposing pass attempts, and while blocking the guys he’ll be sending will be a chore, Herbert is capable enough when under duress to make enough plays to keep it close.
And remember, the Chargers almost always keep it close. Eighteen of their last 23 games have been decided by seven points or fewer, and including last season’s playoff meltdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars, each of their last five losses have come by a field goal or less. None of their last eight losses have been decided by more than a touchdown.
History and Herbert are both on the side of taking the 5.5 points.
Neither the Over nor the Under have hit in consecutive Chiefs/Chargers games since both 2018 meetings exceeded their posted Over/Under totals. That pattern should finally break this week when the Over hits for a second straight time.
We’ll put our money on Mahomes and Reid coming up with some answers against a Chargers’ defense that ranks last in the league in overall passing yardage allowed (289 YPG) and second-to-last in opponent yards per completion (8.5 YPC).
Even if the Chiefs are leaning on Kelce a little more than they’d like, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend is a good bet to make a big impact against Los Angeles. Kelce is coming off a 124-yard night against the Broncos last Thursday, and he has scored five touchdowns in his last three games against the Chargers with at least 100 receiving yards in three of the last four.
The play here is to side with the offenses. One has Mahomes, Kelce and a shaky secondary going against it. The other features Herbert and a unit that’s very good once it gets inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
These teams have combined to score an average of 56.6 points over their last five meetings. We probably won’t have a total that goes that high, but what these teams do put up should be enough for Over bettors to cash a winning ticket.
Any game involving the Chiefs and Chargers has a fun list of prop bets. We’ll steer clear of some of the obvious stars and look at the one involving Kansas City wide receiver Rashee Rice, whose receiving yards total is 39.5.
In their search for answers to their passing offense, the Chiefs may have found something in their last game. Against the Broncos, Rice had his most productive games as a pro, catching four passes for 72 yards a week after hauling in the go-ahead touchdown grab in Kansas City’s victory over Minnesota.
Rice is seeing more of the field – he was involved in nearly half of the Chiefs’ offensive snaps last week – and after putting up solid numbers last Thursday, the rookie receiver should see more of the ball starting this week.
Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images