Chargers-Chiefs TNF Betting Preview: Will Rivers’ Struggles vs. KC Continue?

Chargers-Chiefs TNF Betting Preview: Will Rivers’ Struggles vs. KC Continue? article feature image

Gary A. Vazquez, USA Today Sports. PIctured: Patrick Mahomes, Philip Rivers

Betting odds: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

  • Spread: Chiefs -3.5
  • Over/Under: 53.5
  • Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: FOX/NFL Network/Amazon Prime

>> All odds as of Thursday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets

Betting market: Kansas City opened as a 3-point home favorite and betting action is quite balanced, with the Chiefs attracting 54% of spread tickets at the time of writing.

The line, however, has moved off the key number of 3 up to Kansas City -3.5, suggesting larger wagers from respected bettors grabbed Chiefs -3 (see live betting data here). — PJ Walsh

Weather report: PJ has already covered how the weather has been affecting the over/under, but as of Wednesday evening, the forecast for Chiefs-Chargers calls for 14 mph winds throughout the game.

That could be a problem for two teams that are top 10 in passing yards per game, yards per attempt and passing touchdowns.

Since 2003, in windy games (10 mph or stronger) the under is 454-361-10 (55.7%). That number improves to 59.1% (137-95-4) when both of the teams average better than 7 yards per pass attempt. (KC and LA rank first and second, respectively, in ypa with marks of 8.92 and 8.83.) — John Ewing

Did you know? Philip Rivers has not been great in “revenge” spots. Over the past decade, Rivers is only 9-14 against the spread when facing a team that beat the Chargers by double digits in their previous meeting.

That includes an 0-5 straight up and 1-4 ATS record against the Chiefs in this spot. — Evan Abrams

Trends to know: This will be the Chargers’ second prime time game of the season. The Bolts defeated the Steelers on the road, 33-30, as 3.5-point underdogs on Sunday Night Football in Week 13.

That cover brought Rivers’ ATS record to 28-17-1 (62.2%) in prime time. Rivers has netted bettors 10.5 units under the lights, making him the second-most profitable prime-time QB since he was drafted, behind only Peyton Manning. — Evan Abrams

The Chiefs will be going for their 10th straight victory in this divisional rivalry.  The nine previous wins have come with Bob Sutton calling the shots for KC’s defense.

Sutton’s scheme has given Rivers fits, as the Chargers have averaged just over 15 points per game vs. the Chiefs during this span.

Rivers himself has thrown almost an equal number of interceptions (12) as he has touchdowns (14) in those matchups. — Stuckey

It’s hard for road teams to win on Thursday night, as the impact of the short week hurts them much more than the hosting team, especially in this case as the Chiefs played a home game last week.

Thursday night home teams — which have won seven straight and covered 11 of 13 this season — are 30-13-2 ATS (69.8%) over the past three seasons. That’s good for a 34.8% ROI and 4.2-point average cover margin. — Stuckey

Biggest mismatch: Chiefs pass rush vs. Chargers O-line

The Chiefs defense has not been good — nobody will argue that. However, they’ve been particularly bad against opposing running backs, allowing the second most yards per attempt (5.1) and the most receiving yards to opposing backs in the league.

However, given the Chargers’ injuries in the backfield to both Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler, LA isn’t poised to fully take advantage of this weakness with third-string back Justin Jackson.

That means Rivers will have to drop back all night, which plays right into the strength of the Chiefs defense (pass rush and above-average corner play).

That will also leave the Chargers’ two biggest weaknesses along the offensive line exposed: RT Sam Tevi and LG Dan Feeney, who have been as bad as you can get, especially in pass protection this season.

Per Pro Football Focus, Tevi ranks 108th of all tackles in pass blocking and Feeney ranks 107th among guards with an even worse 41.2 pass block grade.

Chiefs DT Chris Jones ranks sixth among all interior defensive linemen in pass rush, according to PFF. He’s the first player to record a sack in nine consecutive games.

Meanwhile, Dee Ford leads all players in PFF’s pass-rush grading. Both Jones and Ford be able to generate a lot of pressure on Feeney and Tevi, respectively. Oh, and Justin Houston also ranks in the top 10 among edge defenders.

The Chiefs not only have the benefit of owning this series recently and the Thursday Night Football trend, they are setup to make a big play or two on defense with their pass rush to swing this game. — Stuckey

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones

Another mismatch: Special teams

I also want to mention that we have a matchup of one of the best (Chiefs) special teams units in the league vs. one the worst (Chargers) on Thursday night.

That said, Desmond King does bring some explosiveness to the return game for LA and Michael Badgley has helped shore up some of the extreme field goal issues that have plagued the Chargers for the past two seasons.

The Chargers have been especially poor in the punting game, where they rank dead last in net punting yards average (37.0). — Stuckey

Which team is healthier? Chargers

Both teams are dealing with some injuries to key players. The Chiefs offense could potentially be without left guard Cam Erving (knee) and running back Spencer Ware (shoulder, hamstring) in addition to Sammy Watkins (foot).

The good news is Tyreek Hill (heel) is good to go, and stud safety Eric Berry (heel) is also tentatively expected to make his season-debut.

Meanwhile, the Chargers could turn to Justin Jackson as their featured back with Austin Ekeler (neck, concussion) sidelined and Melvin Gordon (knee) a game-time decision. Cornerback Trevor Williams (knee) and defensive tackle Brandon Mebane (NIR) should also be considered questionable. — Ian Hartitz

Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Melvin Gordon.

DFS Edge: Prime-time TyFreak

No fantasy player is more explosive in prime time than Tyreek Hill. Overall, Hill has scored an incredible 17 total touchdowns in 15 career games in prime time (including playoffs).

His ceiling is higher than any pass catcher in the league, as the Chiefs’ superstar receiver has racked up a position-high four games with at least 30-plus DraftKings points

Up next is a matchup against a Chargers’ secondary that Hill has torched for 7-169-2, 5-88-1 and 5-77-1 receiving lines in his past three games.

Hill costs $8,300 on DraftKings and is always a strong candidate to stack with the Chiefs D/ST thanks to his electric ability in the return game. — Ian Hartitz

Bet to watch: Chargers +3.5

This game features two of the three best teams in adjusted net yards per play, with Kansas City coming in at +1.0 and Los Angeles Chargers at +1.1.

In terms of advanced stats, both offensive lines rank in the top 10 for adjusted sack rate and give each quarterback plenty of time to pass. The winner of this game may be decided by who is in the backfield for Los Angeles.

Ekeler is already ruled out, while Gordon has been listed as questionable and has missed two games on the spin.

Gordon will be a game-time decision and would be able to expose Kansas City’s rush defense, which ranks 32nd per Football Outsiders.

The Chiefs also rank 32nd defensively in power success and second-level yards. Those metrics measure rushing success at the line of scrimmage and in 5-10 yard gains.

I like the Chargers at +3.5 and would like them even more if Gordon ends up being able to play. — Collin Wilson

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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