NFL 2017 Week 15: Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs preview and prediction

A winner-takes-all war in the AFC West between one of the most in-form sides in the league and one of the most inconsistent


The Chargers steamrolled the Washington Redskins 30-13 last week for their fourth straight win. Philip Rivers threw for 319 yards and two touchdowns as LA raced out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, and while Kirk Cousins responded with a 23-yard score to Vernon Davis the Chargers simply did not let Washington get back in the game.

Kansas City snapped a four-game losing streak with a much-needed 26-15 win over the Oakland Raiders last week. Alex Smith threw for 268 yards, but the story of the day was a strong defensive display and a return to form for Kareem Hunt who rushed for 116 yards. The Chiefs ran out to a 16-0 half-time lead and then added ten more in the third quarter before turning the gas down. They picked off Derek Carr twice and sacked him three times as they stifled the Raiders offense all day.

Must win

Both these teams are at 7-6, and after the Chiefs took the first game between these two, and if they win this one then they can all-but secure the AFC West crown that looked so simply early in the season. The Chargers could make life very tough for the Chiefs if they win though, with Buffalo owning a tie-breaker over them and both the Titans and Ravens having a better record… The best path to the playoffs for either of these teams is to win on Saturday night. A loss would be devastating.

Edge pressure

There are a lot of good edge players in this game. Bosa and Ingram have combined for 20.5 sacks and 39 QB hits, while Justin Houston has racked up 9.5 sacks and 19 QB hits by himself. Both teams will need to devise ways of negating some very good defensive players in this one.

Which team shows up?

No team has been in more inconsistent form this year that the Kansas City Chiefs. Either they are are electric on offense or they are slower than molasses, and predicting which they will be on any given week is impossible. Meanwhile, the Chargers are far more consistent and have been as solid a team as any in recent weeks. Which version of the Chiefs show up? Who knows but it will be pretty obvious early on.

Matchup to Watch: Keenan Allen vs Marcus Peters

Allen has been on fire of late, catching 39 passes for 547 yards and four scores in the last four games. He is having his best season to date, which is great to see after two injury-plagued seasons. The Chiefs don’t like to matchup corners that often, but they will have to against Allen because Rivers is targeting him so much and none of their other corners are up to the task.

Fantasy Tip: Chargers TE Hunter Henry

Henry has a slight calf concern coming into this game but should be fine by Saturday night. The second-year tight end has been a trusty option for Rivers all year, and after missing the first game between these two he is going to want in on the action. 

Betting Tip: Chargers (-1.5)

The form team with little pressure on their shoulders, LA is the team to back. This game could be a tight, back-and-forth affair but with a line this low you have to go with who you think will win, and that’s the Chargers.

Prediction: Chargers 24 – 20 Chiefs

Look for Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram to cause endless problems for the Chiefs. You can’t run counters and misdirections on two ends as good as they are without suffering the consequences. Kansas have been so up and down in recent weeks that it is impossible to have any confidence in them against a team as in-form as the Chargers are.

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Toby Durant

Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.

 

I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.

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