- The Kansas City Chiefs host the LA Chargers on TNF in Week 15.
- Injuries abound on both sides.
- Get the best props to bet in the pivotal AFC West showdown.
The Week 15 Thursday Night Football matchup is a huge AFC West clash between the division leading Kansas City Chiefs (11-2) and the second-place Los Angeles Chargers (10-3).
Both teams are coming off wins, but neither played their best football in Week 14. The absence of bell-cow running backs Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt showed, and that will continue to be an obstacle on Thursday. Gordon is questionable for the Chargers on a short week, while Hunt was very publicly released by KC following the release of an assault video.
The injury problems at running back actually go even deeper for both teams. Austin Ekeler is out for the Chargers and Spencer Ware is out for KC.
— David J. Chao, MD (@ProFootballDoc) December 12, 2018
Last week’s props went just 1/3 again, putting me further in the red for the season at -$288.48. It’s going to take a real hot streak during the last two weeks of Thursday Night Football to pull this one out of the fire. Now where’s that ignition switch?
Prop #1: Chargers Over 26.5 Points
|Chargers Team Total||Odds at Bovada|
The Chargers have scored more than 26 points six times in 13 games, including three road games. The Chiefs have surrendered more than 26 points six times in 13 games, but only once at home. That would be a huge cause for concern … until you look at the offenses that have come through Arrowhead this year.
- 49ers: 24th in PPG; 27th in DVOA
- Jaguars: 30th in PPG; 28th in DVOA
- Bengals: 16th in PPG; 16th in DVOA
- Broncos: 19th in PPG; 11th in DVOA
- Cardinals: 32nd in PPG; 32nd in DVOA
- Ravens: 13th in PPG; 15th in DVOA
The 49ers (back when they still had Jimmy Garoppolo) are the only team that has topped 26 points at Arrowhead so far, scoring 27 back in Week 4.
Phillip Rivers’ last 4 games at Arrowhead
20/34 291 yds 0 TD 2 INT
24/43 263 yds 0 TD 1 INT
25/36 243 yds 1 TD 0 INT
20/36 227 yds 1 TD 3 INT
— Heath Cummings (@heathcummingssr) December 11, 2018
Philip Rivers has had his struggles in the stadium — that’s well documented — but the 2018 KC defense is 27th in scoring (27.0 PPG) and 26th in DVOA. The Chargers’ offense is 5th in PPG (28.2) and 2nd in DVOA.
In terms of game script, the injuries at running back suggest we’ll see a lot of pass attempts. That means a long game with a lot of possessions. Take the over at plus-money.
Prop #2: Chiefs to Score First
|Which team will score first?||Odds at BetOnline|
The limited sample size that is 3/4s of an NFL season indicates that this prop is not the toss-up it appears to be at first glance. As good as the Chargers’ offense has been this year, it’s started slowly more often than not. Their opponents have scored first in 8 of 13 games to date.
On the other side, the Chiefs have scored first in 10 of 13 games. Patrick Mahomes has flown out of the gate on almost a weekly basis.
At -135, there needs to be at least a 57.5% probability for the bet to have value. The numbers I outlined above combine for 18 successes in 26 trials, or 69.2% success rate. Again, small sample size, but the trend is drastically outperforming the number.
Prop #3: First Turnover of the Game is an INT
|What will the first turnover be?||Odds at Bovada|
As mentioned in Prop #1, with both backfields seriously banged-up, you can expect the teams to go a little more pass heavy than usual.
As good as both Mahomes and Rivers have been this year, neither has been immune to turnovers. Mahomes has thrown 11 interceptions so far, including four in the last three games, while Rivers has tossed six (though none in the last three games).
— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) November 21, 2018
The defenses are both mid-pack in interceptions: LA is T11th with 12 and KC is T15th with 11.
Somewhat concerningly, the Chiefs’ defense has recovered an impressive 10 fumbles on the year, but the Chargers have only put the ball on the dirt seven times and lost a mere four of those. Their own defense has only recovered three fumbles all year.