Week 1 San Diego Chargers vs. Kansas City Chiefs NFL Predictions

Chiefs teammates discussing some plays

Wednesday, September 7, 2016 5:39 PM GMT

Broncos are the defending Super Bowl champions, but they aren't AFC West favorites on NFL odds. The Kansas City Chiefs are. They host San Diego in Sunday's season opener and are 7-point favorites with a total of 44.5.

Chargers To Watch For
San Diego nearly fired Coach Mike McCoy after last season's 4-12 record but decided to give him one more shot. He's the +400 favorite on NFL odds at BetOnline to be the first coach fired along with Detroit's Jim Caldwell. I actually recommended Buffalo's Rex Ryan (+1000) on that prop.

This is quite an important season for the Chargers in San Diego as that city will vote on Nov. 8 whether to approve a tax hike to build the Chargers a new stadium. If that fails, the team could move to Los Angeles to join the Rams as early as next year. The Chargers have a mid-January deadline to tell the NFL its intentions.

This team should be good on offense again. Philip Rivers remains a Top-10 quarterback. He completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 4,792 yards (second in NFL) and 29 touchdowns last year. Rivers has one of the NFL's better receivers in Keenan Allen, who was on a near-record pace in 2015 with 67 catches and 725 yards before going down with a season-ending injury after eight games. Tight end Antonio Gates decided to play one more season and he's a lock Hall of Famer some day. Gates caught 56 passes for 630 yards and five scores last year.

BetOnline is offering milestone props on Rivers and Gates. The retired Tony Gonzalez has the most TD catches for a tight end in NFL history with 111. Gates is second with 104. That Gates has passed Gonzalez by the end of the season is +190. That he hasn't is -250. Meanwhile, Rivers is given an 'over/under' of Nov. 16 to throw his 300th career TD pass. He has 281 of them. Before Nov. 17 is the -150 favorite.

For the Chargers to improve upon 2016, they need an improved running game behind second-year tailback Melvin Gordon as well as better offensive line play. That unit was an injured mess last year. The defense is just so-so. I expect the Bolts to finish last in the AFC West again.

San Diego was 6-2 ATS on NFL odds last season on the road and 3-5 O/U.

Chiefs What To Watch For
Kansas City made NFL history last year by starting 1-5 but then winning 10 straight games to make the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Chiefs' defense was utterly dominant in that run. Kansas City allowed more than 17 points just twice during the winning streak. The Chiefs went to Houston in the wild-card round and dominated the Texans 30-0, forcing five turnovers. But their season ended in a 27-20 loss in New England in which Kansas City coach Andy Reid has some very questionable clock management at the end.

This should be a good team again and, as noted above, is the +175 favorite to win the AFC West for the first time since 2010. However, the Chiefs still have major injury questions for arguably their best offensive and defensive players.

Running back Jamaal Charles was lost in the team's fifth game last year to a torn ACL and he's still not 100 percent. Charles is listed as questionable for Week 1 with Reid saying it was a "stretch" that he would play. In 2014, his last full year, Charles rushed for 1,033 yards and nine scores and caught 40 passes with five scores. The Chiefs do have two good backups in Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West.

On defense, linebacker Justin Houston opens the season on the PUP list, meaning he will miss at least the first six weeks. He's also coming off ACL surgery. Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014 but slipped to 7.5 in 2015 in 11 games as he battled injuries.

Kansas City was 2-5 ATS at home last season on NFL picks (not counting London game) and 2-5 O/U.

Series History
Kansas City has won four straight in the series, two at home and two on the road and the last three by at least a touchdown. Last year in Week 11, the Chiefs were 3-point favorites in San Diego and rolled 33-3. Two Chiefs defenders scored: Houston on a 17-yard interception return for a TD and massive tackle Dontari Poe took a handoff on offense from the 1-yard line and bulldozed his way into the end zone. Alex Smith was 20-for-25 for 253 yards. Ware rushed 11 times for 96 yards and two scores. The Chiefs held the Chargers to 201 yards. Rivers was 19-for-30 for 178 yards and a pick.

In Week 14 in Kansas City, the Chiefs were 11.5-point favorites and won 10-3. The K.C. defense forced Rivers into a two incomplete passes near the goal line in the final seconds. Rivers threw for 263 yards with an interception. Smith was 15-for-23 for 191 yards with a TD and a pick. The Chiefs won despite two turnovers and losing the time of possession.

San Diego Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego didn't win an AFC West game last year and isn't going to here. I would find a 6.5-point alternate line at an A+ Rated sportsbook and give that. Go 'under' the total for you NFL betting pick. The Chargers are 3-9 ATS in their past 12 vs. the AFC West. They are 1-4 ATS in the past five meetings. The 'under' is 4-0 in the past four.

NFL Free Picks: Under 44.5 -105
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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