It’s a battle of AFC West rivals in week 1 of the NFL regular season down in the City of Angels. The Kansas City Chiefs are on the road as they travel to face the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday afternoon. Kansas City won the AFC West last season with a 10-6 record: their season came to an end with a 22-21 loss at home to Tennessee in the wild card round. Los Angeles ended up 9-7 in the regular season but missed the playoffs. The Chiefs lead the all-time regular season series 60-54-1 and took both meetings last season, including a 30-13 win at home in the last meeting on December 16, 2017.
Kansas City Chiefs Kick Off the Mahomes Era
Kansas City won the AFC West crown last season but saw things fall apart in the second half of their wild card tilt with Tennessee. The Chiefs held a 21-3 halftime edge at home in that game but went scoreless in the second half. Tennessee ripped off 19 consecutive points and left Arrowhead Stadium with a one point win and another chapter in Kansas City’s playoff meltdowns. As a result, the Chiefs made a deal, sending QB Alex Smith to the Redskins and turning the offense over to second-year man Patrick Mahomes. Can he answer the bell and lead Kansas City back to the postseason?
Mahomes completed 22 of 35 passes for 284 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in his limited action last season. Chad Henne, who threw just two passes last season with the Jaguars, is the backup should something happen. The run game is led by Kareem Hunt, who broke onto the scene as a rookie last season. He ran the ball 272 times for 1,327 yards plus eight scores while grabbing 53 passes for 455 yards and three more touchdowns. Spencer Ware and Damien Williams are also going to factor into the game plan. In the passing game, tight end Travis Kelce led the team with 83 receptions for 1,038 yards and eight scores. Tyreek Hill (75 grabs, 1183 yards, seven TD) will be paired with Sammy Watkins (39 receptions, 593 yards, eight TD with the Rams) on the outside while Chris Conley (11 catches, 175 yards) may get more work out of the slot. Harrison Butker is back in the kicking game: he hit all 28 extra point attempts and 38 of 42 field goal tries with a long of 53. He was four of five on his attempts from beyond 50 yards.
Los Angeles Chargers Try to Start 2018 Season Off Right
Los Angeles finished 9-7 in the regular season and had a shot at the playoffs only to be thwarted on Cincinnati’s week 17, last minute win over Baltimore. The Chargers try again to make the postseason for the first time since 2013 this season. Los Angeles lost tight end Hunter Henry for the season with a knee injury during training camp. After waiting throughout camp and the preseason, the Chargers finally made the move to re-sign Antonio Gates to a one-year deal. Can this be the year that the Bolts get back to the postseason under the tutelage of Anthony Lynn?
Veteran QB Philip Rivers is back under center for his 15th season for the franchise. He hit 360 of 575 pass attempts last season for 4,515 yards with 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Geno Smith earned the backup job, which means he’ll have a lot of time holding a clipboard. Melvin Gordon (284 attempts, 1105 yards, eight TD, 58 receptions, 476 yards, four TD) is the lead back in the run game. Austin Ekeler(47 carries, 260 yards, two TD, 27 receptions, 279 yards, three TD) is a good change of pace back while rookie Justin Jackson could see some action. Keenan Allen (102 receptions, 1393 yards, six TD) is the top target in the passing game for the Chargers. Tyrell Williams (43 catches, 728 yards, four TD), Mike Williams (11 receptions, 95 yards) and Travis Benjamin (34 grabs, 567 yards, four TD) are also going to be involved in the aerial assault. Caleb Sturgis won the kicking job in a training camp battle with Roberto Aguayo. He hit his only extra point attempt and all three field goal tries in week 1 for the Eagles last season with a long of 50 before getting hurt.
- Chargers are 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games in Week 1
- Chargers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games
- Chiefs are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road game