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Chiefs To Take Huge Step Towards AFC’s Number One Seed

December 12, 2018

The Kansas City Chiefs and the Los Angeles Chargers will face off in one of the most important matches of the 2018 season on Thursday Night Football.

Kansas City claimed a huge overtime win over the Baltimore Ravens as Patrick Mahomes led his team back from a deficit to notch their 11th victory of the campaign and seal their place in the post-season.

The Chiefs hold the lead at the top of the AFC West and the AFC conference itself by a game over the Chargers. Andy Reid’s men won the earlier contest between the sides this season, handing them the vital tie-breaker that would see them hold off Los Angeles at the top even with a defeat.

Anthony Lynn’s side maintained their impressive form with a routine win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Chargers secured their 10th win of the campaign to all but secure a spot in the playoffs – their contest with the Chiefs could make-or-break their potential push for a bye.

Los Angeles have not qualified for the post-season since 2013. The club have made significant strides forward under the tenure of Lynn in his second term.

They pulled off a statement win by beat the Pittsburgh Steelers two weeks ago and can now further enhance their credentials by defeating the Chiefs on the road.

Will Mahomes continue his surge for the MVP award?

Kansas City Chiefs

Mahomes put forward his strongest claim yet to be awarded MVP. The 23-year-old put his team on his back on Sunday against the Ravens, producing incredible throws under pressure. Baltimore have arguably the strongest defense in the NFL, and although Mahomes was not operating at the peak of his powers, he was clutch under pressure to win the contest for his team.

In the context of the AFC playoff picture, the Chiefs win was huge. Their closest rivals for the number one seed outside of the AFC West, the New England Patriots and the Houston Texans both suffered defeats. It has left a clear path for Kansas City to secure the top spot in the conference for the first time since 1997 season.

Despite the positive vibes of the triumph there are concerns that the Chiefs’ offense is levelling out. It would have been an incredible feat for them to remain at the pace they were playing at for the majority of the campaign, scoring 51 points in their loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The loss of Kareem Hunt – albeit for the right reasons when the team cut the running back – has had a detrimental effect.

Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill have still been excellent, but Mahomes is relying on them more than ever – an injury to either player between now and the playoffs could end the Chiefs’ dreams of the Super Bowl. The defense showed signs of improvement against Baltimore even though their offense is not the most potent. However, they have to be stronger down the stretch to ease the pressure on Mahomes and company.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers ensured they did not slip up after their statement win over the Steelers by defeating the Bengals without breaking out of first gear on home soil. Philip Rivers was on point throwing one touchdown, continuing his excellent campaign, although his offense did stutter at times in the second half. Without Melvin Gordon more emphasis was placed on the shoulders of Austin Ekeler, but he went down with an injury that could rule him out of the contest with the Chiefs.

Given how much the Chargers rely on their ground game, it’s a concern that they could be without their top two running backs. Justin Jackson displayed a decent burst against the Steelers, but a lot will rest on the health of Gordon, who could be back from a knee injury.

Keenan Allen has been the Chargers’ best weapon in the passing game and he was impressive once again in the win over Cincinnati. Outside of him there has be more consistent play from Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams. The latter was selected with the seventh-overall pick in the 2017 Draft and needs to start justifying the pick.

There are concerns defensively as well for Los Angeles. They gave up 138 total yards to Joe Mixon, who made the game closer than it should have been in the second half. The loss of Denzel Perryman has made them vulnerable at the second level. Joey Bosa’s impact since his return from injury has been vital, notching four sacks in four matches. The 23-year-old has to maintain that level of form for the rest of the campaign into January. One play against Mahomes could be the decisive factor.

Head to Head

Games Played: 117 Kansas City Chiefs: 61 Los Angeles Chargers: 55 Tied: 1

The Chiefs’ victory over the Chargers in the first week of the 2018 season was their ninth on the bounce against their AFC West rivals. Los Angeles last victory over Kansas City came when they based back in San Diego in the 2013 season when they edged out a 27-24 victory at Qualcomm Stadium thanks to a field goal from Nick Novak in overtime.

Mahomes and Hill were outstanding in the opener this term, with the latter scoring three touchdowns in the win on the road. Rivers and his team-mates were able to put 28 points on the board, but it was not enough as Lynn’s men slipped to a 10-point defeat.

Betting Options

The Chiefs earned a huge win last week over the Ravens and now have the advantage of playing at home on a short week. They’re not the same team without the presence of Hunt, leaving them to rely on the arm of Mahomes. Expect this game to become a shootout – similar to Kansas City’s matches against the Rams and the Patriots. Los Angeles have a potent offense, but the Chiefs will just be able to edge out the victory on home soil.

The crowd at Arrowhead Stadium may play an important role in deciding the outcome of the game. Back the Chiefs at odds of -190  with TopBet, while take Reid’s men on the -5.5 spread at odds of 23/20  with 888Sport. The over/under line for total points has been set at 52 points by BetOnline, given the two offenses involved in match take the over at a price of -115 .

Without Hunt the Chiefs need a solid runner in the redzone. Back Damien Williams to find the endzone anytime at odds of 11/10 , while take veteran tight end Antonio Gates for a score as well at 9/4  with 888Sport.

Tips Summary

Kansas City Chiefs To Beat Los Angeles Chargers
Thursday 13th December 2018 20:20 ET (Friday 14th December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: -190

Kansas City Chiefs -5.5 Spread
Thursday 13th December 2018 20:20 ET (Friday 14th December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: 23/20

Over 52 Total Points To Be Scored
Thursday 13th December 2018 20:20 ET (Friday 14th December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: -115

Damien Williams To Score Touchdown Anytime
Thursday 13th December 2018 20:20 ET (Friday 14th December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: 11/10

Antonio Gates To Score Touchdown Anytime
Thursday 13th December 2018 20:20 ET (Friday 14th December 2018 01:20 GMT)
Odds: 9/4

  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • NFL
  • Patrick Mahomes
  • Philip Rivers

    About the author

    Simon Sinclair
    Simon Sinclair

    Sports Writer

    Simon is a freelance sports writer from the UK. He passionately writes about all kinds of sports, sharing his predictions on everything from the latest cricket matches and golf tournaments to major horse racing events and popular American sports.