Posted on December 15, 2017, by Travis Pulver

When the Los Angeles Chargers hosted the Kansas City Chiefs back in Week Three, it did not appear as if the rematch in Week 15 was going to matter. The Chiefs had the hottest running back in the NFL, a decent defense, and a born-again Alex Smith at quarterback. The Chargers—well, they were the same ole’ Chargers.

But then the craziest thing happened. Kareem Hunt started to struggle to gain yards. Alex Smith quit throwing it downfield, and when he did, he wasn’t too successful. Injuries started to chip away at the Chiefs defense.


Last week’s win over the Raiders shoved Oakland into the backseat of the division race, but it was only the team’s second win in their last eight games. Kareem Hunt appeared to find his stride again with 116 yards and a touchdown, his first since the earlier game against the Chargers. Alex Smith even hit a couple of deep balls.

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However, the Raiders aren’t exactly a tough team this season. The final score wasn’t exactly impressive (26-15).

The Chargers, on the other hand, have been a team on a mission. It began with a 27-22 win over the Giants which was followed by a 17-16 win over the Raiders. Yes, they were close wins over bad teams. But after dropping three of their first four by a field goal or less, it was a step in the right direction.

They improved to 3-4 with a shutout win over the Broncos, but then they dropped games to the Patriots and Jaguars.

But were they done even though their record was 3-6? Absolutely not! They manhandled the Bills, destroyed the Cowboys, and recorded wins against the Browns and Redskins to improve to 7-6— just like the Chiefs.

With a win over the Chiefs, they can finish the climb out of an insurmountable 0-4 hole and take over the division lead.

So—who’s going to win?

The Debate

This one has the appearance of a game that should be incredible. The Chargers have the more productive offense based on total yards (fifth—372.7 yards/game; Chiefs— sixth, 371.3 yards/game). But the Chiefs have done more with their yards (25.3 points/game; sixth) than the Chargers (22.9 points/game; 15th).

But with the ability of either to go cold, it is more likely that the team with the better defense is going to pull this one out. There is nothing about how the Chiefs defense that says they can pull this one out. Josh McCown torched them for 331 yards and a touchdown recently. The Jets run game had a pretty good day as well with 157 total yards and three touchdowns.

The Chargers, on the other hand, have one of the more underrated defenses in the league (tenth in total yards allowed/game– 325.1; second in points/game allowed—17.3). Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram have developed into one of the best pass-rushing duos in the NFL. Rookie defensive back Desmond King is developing into a heck of a play-maker. As a unit, they are super stingy against the pass (second; 200 yards/game), but not so great against the run (28th; 124.8 yards/game).


The Prediction

The Chiefs offense appears to have found its mojo again now that Andy Reid is no longer calling the plays, but the newfound offense has yet to see a defense like the Chargers. Alex Smith is not going to get the time that he needs and will certainly not have time to connect on downfield passes.

Their best bet is going to be to run the ball early and often. If Phillip Rivers is not on the field, he can’t score. However, if that plan is going to work, Kareem Hunt must finish drives in the end zone. When you consider that Chargers struggles against the run, it is not impossible to see this happening.

But it is improbable.

San Diego is playing like a team on a mission while the Chiefs are playing like a team just trying to survive. They will probably keep it close, but they are not going to win. Phillip Rivers is going to have a field day against the Kansas City secondary.

The Chargers are favored by one despite being the road team Saturday night but will win by at least seven.

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