Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 12:00 AM EST on Oct 18. Odds subject to change.
L.A. Chargers +5½ -110 over Kansas City
Arrowhead Stadium - Kansas City Missouri (CBS)
4:25 PM EST. This is a game we've been waiting for and needless to say, we're very happy the spread has come out as large as it has. We'll share it early in case it moves down, which we suspect it will eventually. If you get a +6 on LAC, we encourage you to grab it!
Based on recent results and how the Chargers match up against Kansas City, there's simply no way they can be near-touchdown underdogs, not even at Arrowhead. Even better, we correctly predicted an L.A.-stumble on Monday Night Football, setting up for a lovely redemption spot for the Bolts in Week 7.
The Chargers' biggest liability is their offensive line. The Chiefs are a better defense according to basically every metric so far this season, and they have one of the biggest and meanest pass-rushers in Chris Jones. The Chargers are coming off a MNF contest where they had 9 penalties for 79 yards, most of them holding, although they limited one of the NFL's best defensive lines to only one sack. Of course that one sack came at a crucial moment, late in the fourth quarter on LAC's final drive, but overall it was a good albeit clumsy performance from an offensive front that's healthy besides veteran Corey Linsley, who they lost earlier this season.
Otherwise, the Bolts stack up well against Kansas City, and in no matchup is that more true than Justin Herbert vs. the Chiefs' defense, especially when they play in Kansas City. Apparently Herbert loves Arrowhead, or at least that's what the data suggests: over the last three seasons (three games), Herbert is 81-117 (69%), 917 yards, 10 touchdowns and just one interception. And it's coming at a good time, too. Herbert is receiving criticism after some errant and poorly timed throws on Monday Night Football, so much so that critics are alleging the Chargers would have won if he played sharper. They're not completely wrong, either. While Brandon Staley and his coaching staff aren't a group we trust, LAC's breadth of offensive talent should overwhelm the vast majority of their opponents. Instead they consistently underwhelm and underproduce. It's not all Herbert's fault, that's for sure, but in an atmosphere where he's shown he can step up and play his best football, we expect him and the offense to look better. Herbert's left middle finger, which he broke in Week 5, should be further healed as well.
On the Chiefs' side, the defending Super Bowl champions are playing well, it's hard to win five straight if you're not, but we're seeing some kinks in the armor. Even with Chris Jones back in the lineup, they're far from a proficient pass rush (ranked 17th). Teams can also run all over KC if they choose to, since Andy Reid's team is allowing a rather putrid 4.5 yards per carry through six games (24th). Their offense is also way too dependent on Travis Kelce, who's still working through an ankle injury. Kelce is no doubt one of the NFL's best tight ends, perhaps one of the best to ever play, but defenses as talented as the Chargers are working with an operational advantage in these cases. Limit Kelce, limit KC. Not to mention, the Chiefs haven't exactly faced a who's-who of pass defenses (DET was a loss, followed by JAX, CHI, NYJ, MIN, DEN). Of those defenses, the Jets were their most formidable and they held Patrick Mahomes and his offense to just 3 points in the second half after a volatile first two quarters. The Jets only lost by 3 and covered by margin. With Khalil Mack In rare form and a front-seven that's getting to the quarterback, the Bolts can win some trench-battles and force Mahomes into uncomfortable throws. After all, we've seen him commit a few uncharacteristic interceptions already this season.
With Justin Herbert under center, the Chargers are 2-1 at Arrowhead. In their last four battles they're 1-3, but they only lost those three games by an average margin of 4 ppg. Last season's two losses were only by a field goal each. At 2-3, the Bolts cannot afford to go 2-4 if they want to compete with the almighty Chiefs. While Patrick Mahomes is always dangerous at home, we expect the Chargers to play at their best on Sunday, as they almost always do against their rival. This dog isn't just barking, it's growling, and this is a game where LAC can win straight up. There's a ton of value on LAC getting this many points.
L.A. Chargers +5½ -110 (Risking 2.2 units - To Win: 2.00)