Scott Shapiro's Week 15 Thursday Night Analysis- Chargers at Chiefs
A big one in the AFC West between two of the league’s best teams starts the antepenultimate week of action in the National Football League.
The Los Angeles Chargers enter Week 15 with an 11-2 record, but will need things to go their way over the last three weeks to avoid a road game to start the playoffs. Los Angeles has won three in a row and 9 of 10 after losing 2 of 3 to start the season. Their lone loss since the 1-2 start was a game they had won, but poor in-game management from head coach Anthony Lynn left the Broncos with enough time to drive down and kick a game-winning field goal and win 23-22.
Patrick Mahomes or Drew Brees is likely to win the NFL’s MVP award, but Philip Rivers has been nearly as brilliant in 2018. He has thrown for 29 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions and has completed more than 69% of his passes. The veteran signal caller will have to be on top of his game Thursday in Arrowhead Stadium since the Chargers are likely to be without their top two running backs in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
Rookie Justin Jackson has the talent to be effective on the ground against a defense that ranks 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (127.8), but not having Gordon and Ekeler is likely to hurt Los Angeles most in the receiving game. Between their ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and help in pass protection, I have my concerns with how things will go for the Chargers on offense against a Kansas City defense that has been significantly better at home.
When the Chargers played host to the Chiefs in Week 1, Mahomes only threw the ball 27 times, but four of those went for touchdowns in the 38-28 win for Kansas City. Since then, Mahomes has thrown 39 more TD’s, has completed nearly 67% of his passes and is on the verge of carrying his team to homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
Mahomes has a ton of weapons at his disposal including the electric Tyreek Hill and the league’s best tight end in Travis Kelce, but running back Kareem Hunt is no longer with the team and Sammy Watkins has been sidelined with a foot injury that is likely to keep him out the rest of the regular season. The Chiefs still have the firepower to put up 40 on a team like the Raiders, but with Hill banged up and the potential of poor weather I am not sure we can count on Kansas City to move the ball up and down the field for four quarters against a good Chargers defense.
I lack a strong opinion in this one in terms of side. The 3-point line seems about right to me, but with rain in the forecast and this being the second time these two squads have met in 2018, I think the value in this one is in the UNDER.
With a number of key players on offense either likely to miss this one or to not be at full strength, I foresee more of a game in the 40’s than into the mid 50’s.
Pick: UNDER (52.5)- 1 unit
Scott Shapiro’s 2018 NFL Record 37-30-5 (+5 units)