NFL Football: Los Angeles Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs Preview, Prediction & Odds -- Sept. 26, 2021

by Big Al Staff

Game time: 1 p.m. ET, Sept. 26, 2021
Venue: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Where to watch: CBS

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Chiefs -6.5; O/U 55.5; Moneyline -- Chiefs -335, Chargers +260
BetMGM: Chiefs -6.5; O/U 55.5; Chiefs -303, Chargers +240
Caesars: Chiefs -6.5; O/U 55.5; Chiefs -320, Chargers +245

Season record
Chargers: 1-1
Chiefs: 1-1

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Chargers - Chiefs preview and analysis


Recent form
Chargers: lost 20-17 vs. Cowboys in Week 2
Chiefs: lost 36-35 at Ravens in Week 2

Call it prisoner of the moment if you want, but we like the Los Angeles Chargers to cover against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

I know it seems crazy, but in this game that will be heavy on offense, it’s the Chiefs’ defense that draws some concern.

To be fair, the Chargers are coming off a disappointing offensive showing against the Dallas Cowboys at home that led to a 20-17 loss at SoFI Stadium.

Justin Herbert had a fine game with 338 yards and a touchdown, but two surprising interceptions against a struggling Cowboys defense drew a few scratches on the head. The Chargers had over 400 yards of offense, but the Dallas defense proposed a strong challenge for them on Sunday.

"Fundamentally we just had some calls and some penalties that got brought back, and some turnovers, and I can't turn the ball over in the red zone like that and expect to win," Herbert said. "That's a pretty good offense we're going up against, so we've got to put up more points."

But we like the Chargers to bounce back, even though on the road, against the two-time AFC champions and division rivals. The Chiefs defense has been very suspect these first two weeks; they escaped Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns while giving up 457 yards, and then 481 in the thrilling 36-35 loss on Sunday Night Football to the Baltimore Ravens a few days ago.

"Lamar's a heck of a football player," Chiefs DE Frank Clark said. "He does everything that he can. ... They took it. They came in, beat us in the rushing attack. We missed tackles."

Kansas City is having a hard time containing the run (202 ypg on the ground allowed), which may be the one thing the Chargers are going to struggle to capitalize on. With Herbert throwing at will to targets Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Chargers don’t have a true No. 1 running back to be a reliable three-down option.

That’s not a shot at Austin Ekeler, but he’s more of a receiving back that can make a difference in the backfield than being asked to run in between the tackles. Los Angeles has options in Justin Jackson and Larry Rountree III, but they’re not established yet in the NFL ranks to be relied upon for such a role.

Last season in Kansas City, the Chargers lost 23-20 in overtime in what was Herbert’s coming-out party as a rookie (311 yards, 1 TD) and took a 58-yard field goal in overtime from Harrison Butker to win it for the then-Super Bowl champions. Los Angeles won the season finale 38-21, but that was against a rested Chiefs team that secured home-field advantage in the playoffs and Chad Henne was the quarterback.

If the Chargers are going to contend in the AFC West this season, along with the surprisingly undefeated Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, Herbert’s got to replicate what he did last season and show he can stand toe-to-toe with the best quarterback in football.

Prediction


Much like last season’s thriller in Kansas City, expect this one to come down to the wire. While Mahomes and co. will likely be angry they let one get away from them in Baltimore, I haven’t seen enough from that Chiefs defense that makes me think Herbert can’t have a huge day passing. The Chiefs will get a narrow victory, but the Chargers are going to cover. Chiefs by 4

Betting trends


The Chargers are 2-8 against the spread after accumulating 300 passing yards or more in the previous game. 

The over is 6-4 in the Chargers’ last 10 games as a road dog.

The Chiefs are 0-3 ATS in their last three after allowing 25 points or more in consecutive games.

Players to watch


Chargers: While Keenan Allen has yet to find the end zone, his teammate Mike Williams has done just fine. Williams has two more catches than Allen but for 35 fewer yards, but the two touchdowns Williams has caught shows how good he is 1-on-1 in the red zone. 

Chiefs: Normally with the Chiefs, it’s pick your poison who to cover offensively. When the Ravens focused on Tyreek Hill, all targets went to Travis Kelce. The star tight end had seven catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, giving him three in two games. Simply put, LA can’t let him get open in the red zone.

Statistical leaders


Chargers:
Passing: Justin Herbert -- 675 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT
Rushing: Austin Ekeler -- 111 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: Keenan Allen -- 208 yards
Defense: Joey Bosa -- 1 sack

Chiefs:
Passing: Patrick Mahomes -- 680 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT
Rushing: Clyde Edwards-Helaire -- 89 yards
Receiving: Tyreek Hill -- 211 yards, 1 TD
Defense: Tyrann Mathieu -- 2 INT

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All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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