Thursday, November 21, 2013

NFL Predictions 2013 Week 12: Chargers vs Chiefs

San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs: KC -4 (Pinnacle)

Market Watch

What do people think of the Chiefs after they couldn't cover a +8.5 point spread in Denver last week? Apparently, not as bad as one would think. Two out of every three bets this week are on them again for Week 12.

Then again, this could be just as much of a fade against the Chargers as it is an endorsement for KC. Ever since the bye week, San Diego haven't delivered on their early season success.

A week ago, this line was -4.5. If KC would've covered against the Broncos, you can be sure this line would be closer to a touchdown. Instead, the line remained the same when it reopened on Monday. It might have been even less if San Diego covered against the Dolphins.

In reality, we are getting some value on this spread. The Chiefs have been great at home all year. The true line for this game should be -6 at the minimum. There are a lot of -4.5's out there now, but Pinnacle has made the move to -4. I expect other books to follow suit, but even -4.5 is worth a play.

Keep an eye on

The KC offense. One might look at this game and be concerned about Alex Smith keeping up with Philip Rivers. Normally, I'd share the same concern, but the Chargers defense can't stop anybody this year.

They rank dead last in run defense, and near the bottom against the pass, drive efficiency, and third down. They are technically near the middle in red zone defense, but they are trending downwards over recent weeks. Last week, their defense had 12 missed tackles in total. Anytime you hit double digits, there is reason for concern.

Add it all up and you have a lot of reason for optimism if you're the KC offense. Last week Andy Reid let Alex Smith throw the ball beyond 10 yards, and if it wasn't for four drops he would've ended the day with some really nice numbers. Perhaps they were just surprised that the ball was coming to them that far down the field, but I still like Bowe, Avery, McCluster, Fasano as wideout options. They also have Charles as a lethal pass-catching threat out of the backfield.

There isn't one area of strength of the SD defense, so if the Chiefs can't put up points this week, it will squarely be on them.

The real magic though, should take place when the Chargers have the ball. I've liked what they've done all year, but this is going to be a different kind of test. The Broncos found ways to put up points, but Peyton Manning can do that to anyone and they had the luxury of playing at home. Even then, it wasn't like he exposed the Chiefs defense. They had more than enough stops to give their team a chance.

I don't see Rivers having the same kind of success. San Diego have done a great job at getting the ball out quick all year, but last week the injuries on the offensive line finally caught up with them. They will try to play the short-drop game again, especially after seeing how well it worked for Peyton, but it would take a minor miracle to shutout this KC pass rush for a second straight week.

Hali, Houston, and Johnson will be difference-makers in this game. The only question is how much?

Bottom Line

If this game was in San Diego, I might reconsider this pick, but I think the home crowd is going to be a big factor and it should allow the KC defense to do what it does best.

I've backed the Chargers in recent weeks, expecting their offense to compensate for their defensive woes. It hasn't worked out, and I don't think this is the week they turn that around.

NFL Pick: KC -4.