Kansas City Chiefs vs. L.A. Chargers Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Take TNF Total

Kansas City Chiefs vs. L.A. Chargers Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: Take TNF Total article feature image

Getty Images. Pictured: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes and Chargers QB Justin Herbert (left to right)

  • Updated Chiefs vs. Chargers odds at DraftKings Sportsbook list K.C. as a 3.5-point favorite on Thursday night, though it's ping-ponged between -3 and -3.5 throughout the day.
  • The total is also on the move, up to 53.5, moving 1.5 points over the last 24 hours, and into the range where our expert wants to bet it.
  • Get Sean Koerner's full Chiefs vs. Chargers preview and pick for Thursday Night Football below.

Chiefs vs. Chargers Odds

Chiefs Odds-3.5
Chargers Odds+3.5
Time8:20 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings, updated Thursday at 6:45 p.m. ET. Get live NFL odds here.

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the Los Angeles Chargers in a game that will likely decide the fate of the AFC West. The Chargers won their first meeting 30-24 back in Week 3 at Arrowhead. However, despite technically playing a "home game" at SoFi Stadium, expect there to be more Chiefs fans in attendance for tonight's battle.

I’m awarding the Chargers 0.5-points for home-field advantage — not due to crowd noise, but due to travel. The Chargers played a home game last week, so they haven't had to travel for over a week, while the Chiefs haven't played a road game since Week 10(!) — I think this gives the Chargers a slight edge on the short week.

Click the arrow to expand injury reports

Chiefs vs. Chargers Injury Report

Chiefs Injuries

  • LB Willie Gay (COVID): Out
  • CB L'Jarius Sneed (personal): Out
  • DT Chris Jones (COVID): Doubtful
  • OL Andrew Wylie (knee): Questionable
  • WR Josh Gordon (COVID): Questionable

Chargers Injuries

  • T Rashawn Slater (COVID): Out
  • RB Austin Ekeler (ankle): Questionable
  • S Alohi Gilman (quad): Questionable
  • S Derwin James Jr. (hamstring): Questionable
  • CB Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion): Questionable

Chiefs vs. Chargers Matchup

Chiefs OffenseDVOA RankChargers Defense
Chiefs DefenseDVOA RankChargers Offense
Football Outsiders' DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team's success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Chiefs Would See Massive Downgrade Without Jones

The injury report includes key players on both teams. Kansas City will be without L'Jarius Sneed and could lose Josh Gordon (COVID) and Chris Jones (COVID). Jones is the only player whose absense impacts the spread on the Chiefs' side, as I have him worth a whole point. He's an elite pass rusher who leads the team with 56 pressures on the season. Justin Herbert should have a much cleaner pocket with Jones unlikely to suit up.

Chargers Dependent on Game-Time Injury Decisions

In addition, Austin Ekeler (ankle), Derwin James (hamstring), and Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) are all game-time decisions. Their final status will likely impact the closing line for this game. If all three players are ruled out, the line will likely move off the key number of +3 up to +3.5. On the other hand, if all three players are active and the line is at +3 or +3.5, I may consider backing the Chargers.

NFL Pick: Chiefs vs. Chargers

The best way to attack this game is on the total. The Chiefs offense hasn't been as explosive this season, thanks to defenses playing more two-high safeties, essentially forcing Patrick Mahomes into throwing the ball underneath. Last week, the Raiders refused to go away from their one-high shell tendencies (Las Vegas plays it at the highest rate in the league) and stayed in a one-high shell at the fourth-highest rate for Week 14. The Chiefs took advantage and dropped 48 points on them.

The Chargers play two-high shell at the third-highest rate, and their defense is already designed to frustrate a quarterback like Mahomes. They are a team that essentially allows the other team to run the ball on them (rank 32nd in DVOA against the run). Therefore, we will either see the Chiefs stick with a more run-heavy, conservative game plan or play into the strengths of the Chargers defense by taking deep shots. The Chargers are excellent at taking away the deep ball and have allowed the second-lowest QB rating (56.6) to pass attempts 20+ yards down field. Either scenario will only play into the under, and that's why I see that as the best betting angle for this divisional matchup.

At time of writing, the total sits at 52.5, with 75% of the action coming in on the over (check real-time public betting data here). The key numbers in this range are 50, 51, 54 and 55. Therefore, I'm willing to wait to bet this under if and/or when:

(1) The heavy action on the over pushes the total to at least 54; or
(2) If Derwin James is ruled active and the total is still at 52.5.

If both James and Samuel are ruled out and the total is at 52 or lower, though, I will likely stay away.

Pick if Derwin James is active: Under 52.5
Pick if total rises: Under 54 (or better)
Pick if neither happens: Pass

Editor's note: The over/under has been bet up to 54 points as of 5 p.m. ET, meaning the under is officially in play based on our expert's conditions — regardless of of Derwin James' status.

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