Thursday night finally promises to give us a good game, as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Los Angeles Chargers in an AFC West rivalry game that has a lot on the line. The Chiefs are listed as 3.5-point favorites at home in a game both teams will be hungry to win.
The Chiefs wrapped up a playoff spot with last week’s win over the Ravens, but they still have a lot on the line. With two wins in their final three games, Kansas City can secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and that’s without getting any outside help. As long as the Chiefs keep rolling, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC will likely go through Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chargers, on the other hand, are still trying to overtake the Chiefs in the AFC West. The Bolts have won nine of their last 10 games to keep pace with Kansas City after losing to the Chiefs in Week 1. If the Chargers can steal a win on Thursday, they will pull into a tie with Kansas City while also clinching at least a wild-card spot.
Los Angeles running back Melvin Gordon is considered a game-time decision after missing the last two weeks with a knee injury. With backup running back Austin Ekeler ruled out for Thursday’s game, there’s a lot riding on Gordon’s status. After rookie Justin Jackson gained just 12 yards on seven carries against a porous Cincinnati defense last week, the Chargers need Gordon to be active against the Chiefs.
Obviously, the Chargers are okay with Philip Rivers carrying the offense on his shoulders. However, Rivers has had such a good season because Gordon and Ekeler have been so productive running the ball. The Kansas City defense has been vulnerable this year, so the Chargers could get by if Rivers has to throw 40 or 50 times. But they’ll be a lot more comfortable if they have Gordon and a competent running game.
Problems of Their Own
Of course, the Chiefs are dealing with their own set of problems. Obviously, Kareem Hunt is gone and he’s never coming back. But new starting running back Spencer Ware is questionable to play on Thursday due to injury. Star wide receiver Tyreek Hill is also banged up and probably won’t be at 100% even if he plays. Despite the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes this year, those injuries and absences are a big deal.
The Chargers should also be a little better prepared to face Mahomes and company after playing them in Week 1. The Los Angeles defense will also benefit from having Joey Bosa, who didn’t play when these two teams met in Week 1. Bosa has already amassed four sacks in his four games back, giving the Chargers a formidable pass rush to help them keep Mahomes under wraps.
Too Close for Comfort
The Chiefs have had a couple close calls their last two games. For whatever reason, they seem poised to suffer a loss at some point. The Chargers are just the kind of team that can knock them off. Even if Kansas City survives, this should be a close game. Bet on the Chargers to at least beat the 3.5-point spread on Thursday night.