The Rundown’s NFL Bet of the Week: Chargers Will Put Points on the Board vs. Chiefs
Harry How/Getty Images. Pictured: Quarterback Justin Herbert #10 and wide receiver Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Don’t look now, but the AFC West is one of the strongest divisions in the NFL: Every squad has at least one win and there are two undefeated teams … and neither the Los Angeles Chargers nor the Kansas Chiefs, the reigning division champs five years running, are among the unblemished.
Needless to say, this matchup in Sunday’s early window is about as crucial as it gets for both teams in Week 3.
Let’s start with the betting basics. The spread opened with Kansas City giving somewhere between seven and eight points, depending on your book.
Despite the Chiefs getting a lot of attention from the public, this line has only come down in the Chargers’ favor, getting as low as 6.5 at some shops. This tells us that the sharp action is likely backing L.A., which isn’t a huge surprise.
Dating back to last season, the Chiefs have been terrible against the number, going 1-9 against the spread over their last 10 regular season games, according to data from Bet Labs; they are 8-2 straight up over that stretch. One of those losses — both ATS and SU — was a 38-21 walloping by the Chargers in Week 17 when the Chiefs sat their starters, but they still didn’t cover as seven-point dogs.
So what’s wrong with them? Well, there’s no denying the magic of the Patrick Mahomes-led offense, but the defense really does not look good. Through two weeks this season, they’re allowing 32 points per game; if you need a bigger sample size, they’re allowing 27.4 over that same 10-regular season game stretch.
Going a step further, the Chiefs currently rank 30th in overall defensive DVOA, per Football Outsiders; for a larger sample size, they ranked 22nd in 2020, which is a bit shocking for a team that played in the Super Bowl this year. Specifically, they’ve been getting killed on the ground, ranking 32nd and 31st in 2021 and 2020, respectively, in rush defense DVOA.
That can only be good news for the Chargers. Austin Ekeler is having a solid start to the campaign, averaging 4.6 YPC with just 24 attempts through two contests. He also ripped off 93 yards against the Chiefs in Week 2 last season. If L.A. establishes the run early, and the potentially improved defense is able to contain Mahomes and company just enough, the Chiefs may have trouble slowing that running attack.
In turn, that should open up options through the air. Justin Herbert has passed for 337 yards or more in each of his first two games, and only missed out on having more touchdown passes due to some bad luck and flukey penalties. Additionally, Mike Williams may finally be having that breakout campaign that many prophesied when he was drafted seventh overall in 2017.
Basically, the Chargers’ offense will have a lot of ways to get points on the board. With the over/under sitting at 54.5, this game has one of the highest totals on the board this week, indicating that sportsbooks believe there will be a lot of points regardless of which team scores them.
Even still, this team total is shockingly low for the Chargers. I believe you’re getting a lot of good value, and this over is pretty easily attainable in what should be a shootout where the Chargers offense has its best showing of the young season.
Pick: Chargers Team Total Over 23.5 (-110)