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Sep 20, 2021

NFL Game of the Week: LA Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

LA Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

What impact will Patrick Mahomes have?

Concerns for Kansas City

Can the Chargers realise their potential?

NFL Game of the Week: LA Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs

Inform your NFL predictions ahead of the biggest matches this season with Mark Taylor's Game of the Week. Week 3 sees the Los Angeles Chargers travel to the Kansas City Chiefs in an all-AFC West matchup.

Chargers at Kansas City: Odds at a glance

Market

Los Angeles Chargers

Kansas City Chiefs

Money Line

3.460*

1.352*

Handicap

+6.5 - 1.970*

-6.5 - 1.925*

Total Team Points

Over 24.5 - 2.030*

Over 31.5 - 2.040*

Total Game Points

Over 55.5 - 1.943*
Under 55.5 - 1.952*

Chargers at Kansas City: What impact will Mahomes have?

Andy Reid’s stint as Kansas City head coach began in 2013 and heralded a run of top-two finishes in the AFC West for the team, having finished fourth in four of the previous five seasons. Regular postseason participation also followed, but it took the arrival of Patrick Mahomes at quarterback in 2018 for Kansas City to progress beyond the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

That has resulted in three Divisional Championship games and two Super Bowl appearances, the first of which they won in 2019. Kansas City have topped the AFC West every season since 2016, meaning it isn’t a surprise that Mahomes is now the highest-paid and arguably most pre-eminent player in the NFL, with several MVP awards to back such a claim.

Mahomes has not been outside the top three quarterbacks for every yardage-based statistical indicator since he joined the team and, even more impressively, has consistently highlighted his ability to lead Kansas City to victory from double-digit deficits.

Mahomes and co. turned in a 14-2 regular season last year, with one of their defeats coming in Week 17 against the Chargers when Mahomes was rested prior to the postseason. That was the best regular season record in the NFL, although it did entail an overperformance against Pythagorean expectations of over three wins.

Indeed, eight of the 14 wins were by seven points or fewer and their tendency to earn narrow victories became overwhelming during the second half of the season. They also ranked inside the top 10 for positive turnovers with a net gain of six, although even with a well-documented lull, Mahomes still topped the 2020 efficiency rankings.

He passed a yard further per attempt than the defences he faced usually allowed and actively contributed to an above-average running game. Kansas City also scored over 30 points per game in meaningful regular season fixtures against defences that allowed an average of just over 25.

Chargers at Kansas City: Concerns for Kansas City

However, Kansas City’s defence is not of the same standard. They are below average against the run in what is an exploitable weakness, but can boast a top 10 passing defence that allows 6.7 yards per attempt against offences that average seven.

The Chiefs, and more broadly the AFC, have had a mixed opening to 2021, with only fellow AFC West sides the Broncos and the Raiders enjoying a 2-0 start. Kansas City followed up a trademark come-from-behind win against Cleveland in Week 1 with a lone-point defeat at the hands of Baltimore in Week 2.

Their team is far from perfect, as highlighted when their injury-hit offence was easily neutralised by Tampa Bay in last season’s Super Bowl, although they are deservedly among the NFL outright favourites this season.

Chargers at Kansas City: Can the Chargers realise their potential?

The LA Chargers have laboured under the shadow of this week’s opponents in recent years, having consistently topped the AFC West themselves during the 2000s, albeit without transferring such dominance into a Super Bowl appearance.

The Kansas City Chiefs should be able to comfortably cover their Handicap.

Their current quarterback is Justin Herbert, the sixth overall pick and the third quarterback picked in the 2020 NFL Draft. He endured a steep learning curve when commencing his stint in the role following a Week 2 injury to starter Tyrod Taylor, which meant two of his first three appearances were against that season’s Super Bowl finalists Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

His throwing efficiency was average by league standards based on the defences he faced but still proved good enough to win him the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. His arm strength and mobility mean he should enjoy an upward trajectory on this front, especially as the Chargers scored 24 points per game against defences that allowed 25.5, but with virtually no help from the ground game which gained 0.7 of a yard below the average usually allowed by their opponents.

The Chargers also have a new offensive coordinator in Joe Lombardi, who spent four seasons working with Drew Brees at New Orleans, while new head coach Brandon Staley will be aiming to oversee defensive improvements.

Indeed, last season the Chargers ranked in the top half for defending against the pass but in the bottom third against the run, meaning they allowed teams that averaged just 24 points per game to score an average of 26.6 against them.

In typical fashion, their opening two matches this season were decided by narrow margins. A four-point win over Washington in Week 1 was followed by a last-second defeat against a rejuvenated Dallas last time out. They look to set to challenge in what should be a competitive AFC West this season, although a playoff berth may be a season or two down the line.

The markets inevitably favour Kansas City’s passing attack and they are projected to score around 31 points in this fixture, with Los Angeles trailing on 21. Both teams are smarting after close and dramatic defeats in Week 2, but the Chiefs should be a comfortable pick to cover their Handicap and a tightly contested affair is not particularly expected.

Pinnacle Sports Bet on numerous markets for every single match in the NFL this season.

Odds subject to change

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