Chargers vs. Chiefs Odds, Picks, NFL Sunday Predictions: Could Justin Herbert Upend Patrick Mahomes In Week 3?
Jamie Squire/Getty Images. Pictured: Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
- Nine consecutive one-score games for the Chiefs means betting the Chargers may be the play, but can Justin Herbert beat Patrick Mahomes?
- Our analyst is betting on that possibility -- he makes the case for backing the Chargers to cover this NFL Week 3 spread below.
- Find Chiefs vs. Chargers odds in the following betting preview, complete with his pick and predictions.
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes headline what should be a fun, high-scoring divisional battle in the AFC West.
The Chiefs could be 2-0 right now if not for a late Clyde Edwards-Helaire fumble. Of course, they could be 0-2 if the Browns had held on late in Week 1.
Instead, they’re 1-1, and that’s about how the Chargers season has gone thus far too. Los Angeles eked out a win over Washington in the opener but fell by a field goal to the Cowboys last week.
Both of these teams look like playoff contenders, and the Chiefs remain Super Bowl favorites, but one of them will fall to 1-2 after this one. The books are expecting a high-flying shootout with a total of 55, so there should be plenty of points and a lot of action.
But could defense end up telling the story?
Can The Chargers Fluster Mahomes?
The Chargers have been surprisingly stout on defense so far. They held Washington to 16 points and gave up just 20 to a loaded Dallas offense last week.
Brandon Staley’s defensive schemes are already paying dividends. The Chargers play any number of defensive fronts, mixing things up from one play to the next and making it difficult for the opponent to get into a rhythm.
Staley loves to play a two-high defense. That means dropping both safeties and limiting the big plays down the field. It often forces opponents to check down to under routes or audible to the run game.
Los Angeles’ run defense has looked vulnerable so far, but that might be by design. Staley knows pass defense is far more important in 2021, and the two-high defense baits the opponent into either abandoning the pass or forcing one into a talented secondary featuring playmakers like Derwin James and Asante Samuel Jr.
This sort of defense could frustrate Mahomes and the Chiefs. Kansas City is made to dial up the big plays, especially with Tyreek Hill.
They’re not built to hand the ball off all game, especially after an Edwards-Helaire’s fumble just cost them the win.
Could Mahomes force things or fall into some of the traps Staley’s defense sets? Even Mahomes is not invincible.
Of course, the Chargers are going to need to score some points. Herbert has showed off his rocket arm this season and L.A. is converting third downs at a ridiculous, unsustainable rate.
But Herbert has also had a couple costly interceptions trying to do too much in scoring position. Also, the Chargers have struggled on early downs and have gotten into some trouble with penalties.
This is a young team with a new coach and one that is still figuring things out. They have the talent and system to hang with anyone if they can put it all together.
Could this be a spot where they do so and announce their presence to the rest of the AFC?
Chiefs Defense Needs To Improve
You don’t need much of an introduction to the Chiefs.
Even after coming up short last Sunday night in Baltimore, Mahomes still feels invincible. He and the Chiefs had won eight consecutive one-score games before that loss.
What’s interesting is that those games have literally been the last eight Chiefs games, outside of a meaningless Week 17 affair. Kansas City has played nine straight one-score games.
The Chiefs are 8-1 straight up in those games but just 1-8 against the spread. Kansas City has struggled to cover these high lines, but the books keep posting them because the public can’t stop betting on Mahomes.
The problem is that they’re not just betting on Mahomes — they’re betting on the entire Chiefs squad, and that means the defense too.
Kansas City’s defense has been terrible thus far, worse than at any point under Andy Reid. Per Football Outsiders, the Chiefs rank 31st in Defensive DVOA and that number is worse than any defense in their system historically.
That means the Chiefs defense really can’t stay this bad. It hasn’t helped that they’ve played tough Browns and Ravens attacks, but it shows just how vulnerable this team is on D.
Mahomes is only dangerous while he’s on the field. The defense is letting him and the supernova offense down because the D can’t get off the field. And with the way the Chargers have been moving the ball and converting on third down, that could leave the dangerous Chiefs offense watching much of this game from the sidelines at times.
The Chiefs are 4-2 against the Chargers in the Mahomes era, but have just a +12 point differential. This is a team that has managed to hang with Mahomes and the Chiefs, with five of those six games contested into the final minutes.
One of those close affairs was the only matchup against Herbert so far, which happened to be his debut in Week 2 almost exactly a year ago. The Chiefs won that one but needed a field goal to send it to overtime and another one in OT to steal the win.
Herbert and the Chargers have the talent and the belief to head to Kansas City and match the Chiefs blow-for-blow. They can score enough to hang tight in a shootout, and the defense has the scheme to slow things down and make life difficult for Mahomes.
The Chiefs are capable of blowing out anyone, but they haven’t done that for a long time. The defense isn’t good enough, and the Chargers have the talent to stay in this game.
With a line that has risen to a full touchdown, we only need another one-score Chiefs game to cover or at least push this spread.
That means we’re betting the Chargers to get the cover at +7. But we’re not stopping there. If this is in fact a one-score game, then the Chargers have a real shot at a win. Herbert is good enough to get that win late.
At +250 to the moneyline, the Chargers have an implied 28.6% chance of winning. These Chargers are better than that and the bad Chiefs defense will give them a chance.
L.A. has a chance to steal a win here and upend the entire hierarchy in the AFC West.
Play the Chargers to get the cover and keep this within one score, just like almost every other Chiefs game of late. But don’t be afraid to sprinkle a bit on the moneyline too.
This could be our Week 3 “Upset Special.”
Pick: Chargers +7