A divisional rivalry that has seen some close games five of the past six games between the Chiefs and Chargers have been decided by six points or fewer, with two ending in overtime. The final scores of the last four Chargers-Chiefs games are 30-27, 27-24, 34-28, and 30-24.
If you think that pattern is going to be repeated then backing over 48 points at Evens or over 53 points at 15-8 with starsports.bet would look to be an option. These teams have combined for 51 or more points in five consecutive meetings.
All five of the Chargers games this season have been decided by seven points or fewer and going into this game it’s one that they can ill afford to lose as they stand at 2-3 with the Chiefs at 5-1 and threatening once again to run away with the AFC West. The Chiefs have a significant rest advantage in this game, as they played last Thursday night, while the Chargers are playing on a short week after a home loss on Monday night against Dallas.
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Will this game be different though as this time around the Chiefs appear to have found out how to play defence after relying on the offence led by QB Patrick Mahomes to bail them out and literally score more than the opposition. In fact, the Chiefs defence have only allowed an opponent to score 20 offensive points once this season and have held half their opponents to ten points or less, although it should be noted that the opposing offences have included the pop gun attacks of the Bears, Jets and Broncos. The Chargers offence is much better than those teams and remains a solid one scoring 24 points in all bar one game this year. The Chargers can be backed at 11-10 to score more than 22 points.
It will be interesting to see how the Chargers approach the game offensively as they have been chameleon like in this phase of the game this season so far and that may well have been a consequence of the personnel that they have available. Having lost deep threat wide receiver Mike Williams for the season and having main running back Austin Ekeler returning to the line-up they could return to a more run based game as they did in Week 1 when clocking up over 200 yards rushing on the Dolphins. The Chiefs defence is stronger against the pass than it is versus the run and turning to the run game would have the advantage of controlling the clock and keeping Mahomes off the field which is always an advantage.
The fact that the Chargers run game has been rather up-and-down ties in with the thought about how they have had to fashion their style of offensive play this year with what personnel they have had available and Ekeler had a rather quiet game on Monday posting 62 yards on 18 touches, rushing 14 times for just 27 yards, and catching 4-of-6 targets for 35 yards. The Chiefs have allowed only 96.0 total yards per game to opposing backfields so far (seventh in the league), but Ekeler has been excellent against the Chiefs averaging 103.2 yards from scrimmage in those contests with five touchdowns, which makes Ekeler’s +48.5 rushing yards line (10-11) look a little low.
Chargers QB Justin Herbert is one of the better young QB’s in the game, but he has been a little erratic at times this season, especially in the last two weeks and he received some criticism after the loss to Dallas this week. He has been operating with a broken finger though on his non-throwing hand which may have unsettled him a little and that should be healing better now. Herbert has completed fewer than 60% of his passes in each of the past two weeks. He has thrown for just 7.0 and 6.1 yards per pass attempt and has an interception in each game.
Avoiding pressure will be key for Herbert and the Cowboys certainly tried to get after him on Monday night when they pressured him on 47.6% of his dropbacks the highest rate of pressure he has faced this season. Kansas City’s defence is 12th in the league with 17 sacks and could take advantage of a struggling offensive line and an injured quarterback. That said Herbert has thrown multiple touchdown passes in five straight games in this contest and his numbers on his visits to Arrowhead stack up well throwing for 917 yards with 10 TD’s and just one interception on his last three visits.
Without doubt, with Williams now missing from his receiving corps, Herbert has zeroed in more and more on Keenan Allen who is on pace for a career high in catches and yards per game. Allen was 7-of-11 targets for 85 yards and scored his fourth touchdown of the season against the Cowboys he’s very much the receiving safety blanket. Josh Palmer is now vin place as the No2 WR, with first-round pick Quentin Johnson the third WR on the depth chart although he’s yet to make the impact many thought he would and looks more of a slow burner.
The Chiefs offence hasn’t been as explosive or as good as in seasons past but as much as Herbert appears to like playing against the Chiefs the then Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes enjoys the Chargers. Over their last four meetings, Mahomes has plagued the Chargers defence to the tune of 102-of-160 passing (64%) for 1,234 yards (7.7 YPA), an 11:3 TD-to-INT ratio, and 25 rushing yards per game. The offence led by Mahomes has been a touch disappointing in the last two weeks against defences from Denver and Minnesota which they were expected to make short work of but scoring just 27 points against the Vikings and 19 against the Broncos fell way short of their implied totals.
They get another soft matchup to attack this week in the shape of a Chargers defence that could be best described as porous with the secondary especially having issues allowing the most passing yards per game in the NFL. Mahomes features in the starsports.bet specials market “Most Passing Yards on Sunday” and he’s certainly of interest at 6-1, in a game where he should have plenty of passing opportunities. Mahomes along with the Seahawks Geno Smith (12-1) and Packers Jordan Love (22-1) are the three players that appeal in that market.
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The Chiefs offence now has gone a slight transformation and relies heavily on their running backs and TE in the shape of Mahomes favourite target Travis Kelce. At running back, the Chiefs appear to be heavily favouring Isiah Pacheco who has seen a real upturn in his workload and usage.
Pacheco’s three-game scoring streak came to an end last week, but he was able to smooth out a slow-rushing performance (16 carries for 62 yards) by catching a career-high six passes for 36 yards and he won’t lack for opportunity to get back on the scoresheet with the amount of touches he’s likely to receive. The Chargers haven’t been a total pass funnel as they have in past seasons, but they are still allowing plenty of yards to opposing RB’s. Pacheco’s rushing yards line is set at +62.5 (10-11 and backing the over certainly looks one of the better bets in this contest.
Mahomes-to-Kelce has been a familiar refrain over several seasons for the Chiefs and Kelce looked back to his best against Denver in the Chiefs last outing. Since returning in Week 2, Kelce has led all tight ends with a 25.0% target share and over that period he leads the position in receptions (36) and yards (346) while tied for the lead with three touchdowns. It will be a surprise if he doesn’t see 8-12 targets this time around and as ever he’ll be a red zone target for Mahomes. Pacheco and Kelce will likely be the focal points once again. It should also be remembered that it’s National Tight Ends Day so if there was anything like a banker bet in this matchup then it would be the 8-11 with starsports.bet on Kelce to score a touchdown. Kelce to score two plus TD’s at 4-1 is also of interest.
Both Kelce and Keenan Allen for the Chargers have been target monsters this year and the Star Sports Special on Kelce & Allen to combine for 15+ receptions at 13-8 could be a fun play in a game where it’s hard not to see that pair heavily involved and targeted.
The wide receiver position in Kansas City has been something of a merry-go-round and becomes more and more muddled as the weeks go by and with the former Chief Mecole Hardman returning to the fold on Wednesday that picture has got even more puzzling. If there is one wideout that may be separating himself from the pack then it’s rookie Rashee Rice. With downfield threat Justin Watson out through injury Rice could well see his role expanded he averaged 18 yards per reception in Week 6. He’s caught 75% of his targets and has seen more looks than any other Chiefs wide receiver this season and apart from Kelce, Mahomes has looked to him in the end zone which would make the 2-1 on offer about a Rice TD of interest.
This is Mahomes 53rd home start, including playoffs, and the 52nd in which the Chiefs were favoured. The lone exception came last season in a loss to the Bills. If history repeats itself we should be in for another close game with plenty of back and forth although these two offences look a little different to those past contests and that may just curtail the fireworks on this occasion.
BACK Travis Kelce to score a TD anytime 2pts at 8/11 (⭐
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BACK Isiah Pacheco over +62.5 rushing yards 2pts at 10/11 (⭐
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PROFIT/LOSS (OCT 2023): LOSS -16.74 points