Before last Sunday’s game, all of Arrowhead Pride’s staffers again picked the Chiefs to beat the Los Angeles Raiders. Only one of us thought the game would be close — and two-thirds of us predicted a blowout — but no one foresaw a 48-9 win on the way. Our composite prediction of a 29-17 Chiefs victory fell a bit short on both the spread and over/under! Our readers also thought the Chiefs would win — but they were less convinced a mauling was forthcoming; most simply thought Kansas City would win easily.
In Week 15, the Chiefs are on the road to face the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kansas City is favored by 3 points. Let’s see what the staff — and our readers — think about the matchup.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
I was a lot more confident on Tuesday morning before the news about Chris Jones broke. Without him, the Chiefs’ defense certainly loses a notable weapon against the pass — but with Jarran Reed, Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram, there should be enough juice left on the defensive line for the Chiefs to give Justin Herbert some grief. Offensively, I am a lot less confident — but the signs are there that the Chiefs are getting there. The Chiefs have been in these huge, regular-season games with big playoff implications a number of times; they know what’s required. I basically have this game as a pick ’em — but I’m going with experience over youth. Chiefs 23, Chargers 20
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
On paper — that is, considering the whole season — the Chargers ought to win this game by a field goal or so. The Chiefs, however, have wadded up that piece of paper and thrown it away; they’re writing a new narrative on a fresh sheet. So I’m not going to be surprised if the Chargers win by a field goal. But that’s not what I think is going to happen. Chiefs 31, Chargers 24
Talon Graff (@CoachGraff34)
It is going to be hard predicting who is available to play — let alone which team is going to walk away as the winner. This game has strong implications for the playoffs, so whoever does suit up had better be ready for some big moments. The Chiefs have been out of this world on defense but are without Willie Gay and could be without Chris Jones. The Chargers have won two straight in convincing fashion and Justin Herbert is every bit as good as advertised. Kansas City will need some of that scoring from the Las Vegas game to spill over into Thursday night. With the No. 1 seed within striking distance, I think the Chiefs stay hot while Melvin Ingram has a big day against his old buddies. Chiefs 30, Chargers 27
Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger)
Game. Of. The. Year. It’s that simple. If the Chiefs win, they will have the inside track to win the division for a record sixth consecutive season. Lose and the Chargers have the tiebreaker over the Chiefs to go along with their easier schedule. Both teams are coming in hot after blowout wins last week. With it being a short week, that typically favors the home team. Additionally, in a battle of attrition, the Chargers seem to have the advantage on the injury report as COVID-19 will sideline Willie Gay — and potentially Chris Jones. It’s hard to bet against the Chiefs, but with starters missing on all three levels of the defense — including L’Jarius Sneed — it will be a tough night for the defense to contain Justin Herbert. All that being said – after two weeks of vanilla offense from Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes, this is the week they let loose. Reid is famously known for prepping during the bye week and we’ve seen zero innovation or creativity since then. This tells me Reid has been holding his cards for this game. I’ll take Mahomes over Herbert — and Reid over Staley. Chiefs 33, Chargers 28
Mark Gunnels (@MarkAGunnels)
This game is hard to predict because we’re not sure who will be available to play. But as it currently stands, it appears a majority of the key players on both teams will be good to go. With that being said, I find it hard to believe the Chiefs will lose to the same team twice in the same season. For all intents and purposes, this game is for the division. The Chiefs understand that. And despite having four turnovers in their first meeting, they still had an opportunity to beat the Chargers at the end. I expect Patrick Mahomes to have one of those special games. Chiefs 34, Chargers 24
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
You might as well call this the AFC West Championship game; that’s at least how the Chiefs should look at it. I believe that for a few weeks, Andy Reid’s been quietly looking forward to this game — and will have his team ready to avenge its Week 3 loss. The Chiefs’ defense will feel the absence of L’Jarius Sneed, Willie Gay Jr. and potentially Chris Jones — but the Chiefs’ offense will come out swinging, using an effective rushing attack to complement big-play designs. Kansas City continues its reign over the division. Chiefs 37, Chargers 31
Rocky Magaña (@RockyMagana)
It’s unfortunate that the most important game of the regular season is marred by both teams being shorthanded due to COVID and injuries. The losses of Chris Jones and Willie Gay could be cataclysmic to this defense. The big question: does the Chiefs’ dominating front four look the same without Jones creating chaos in the interior? Willie Gay brings life to this defense– the Chiefs will have to figure out a way to replace his energy on the field. This game will show us — once and for all — how good of an asset Melvin Ingram is. This is his revenge game against the team that walked away from him this past offseason. Ingram and Frank Clark need to lay hands on Justin Herbert. And if we have ever needed the Mahomes of yesteryear to show up like Father Christmas and drop 500 yards on a team, it’s this week. I don’t foresee the turnover gremlin rearing its ugly head like it did last time these two teams met. The defense has been carrying the load on the back end of this season, so it’s time for the offense to repay the favor. This one could come down to the wire — but I like the Chiefs eke out a close one. Chiefs 27, Chargers 24
Kramer Sansone (@KramerTalks)
This game is tough one to pick since both teams are battling COVID and it’s a short week. Last week, the Chargers got it done without Keenan Allen — who will be out for this game as well. I think they can get it done again — especially without Chris Jones helping the Kansas City pass rush up the middle. The lackluster offense of the Chiefs — who will not be playing the Raiders — might come back down to earth against the Chargers. Los Angeles is still one of the worst teams stopping the run and the Chiefs don’t really have a running game. This game will be close and tight — but I see the Chargers getting it done with a late field goal from Dustin Hopkins. Chargers 31, Chiefs 28
Jared Sapp (@TrumanChief)
As both teams face COVID-related uncertainty, it is difficult to predict this game. The Chiefs were very successful running the ball against the Chargers in Week 3 — and the Bolts have struggled against the run throughout their inconsistent season. Likely boosted by the return of Lucas Niang — and to reduce Justin Herbert’s opportunities against a defense missing Chis Jones and Willie Gay — expect to see the Chiefs make every attempt to control the ball with long drives. The Chiefs will do everything they can to prevent Mahomes-Herbert IV from becoming the shootout everyone wants it to be. The Chiefs will put in another unsatisfying offensive performance — but win their seventh in a row. Chiefs 24, Chargers 20
Stephen Serda (@StephenSerda)
In the midst of a six-game winning streak, it still feels like there are questions about this Chiefs team that need to be answered — like, “Can it put together an offensive game plan against a team not named the Raiders?” One thing that is certain: they can’t turn over the football four times as they did in the Week 3 matchup against the Chargers. If Chris Jones isn’t available, it obviously has a drastic impact on this game. The Los Angeles run defense has struggled all season — and that means Clyde Edwatds-Helaire and Darrel Williams can have another high-impact performance this week. If Kansas City wins the turnover battle, then they’ll be able to do enough to come out on top. Chiefs 31, Chargers 27
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
So many factors could make this game unpredictable — but there are now a few things on which we should be able to hang our hats. The Chiefs’ defense has been excellent for more than a third of the season. That’s enough of a sample size to believe Stece Spagnuolo’s guys can continue to dominate — even against a good offense like the Chargers. The Chiefs seem to have turned the corner on the turnovers on both sides of the football. Going back to the previous matchup, the outcome was almost completely decided by the Chiefs offense giving the ball away. That shouldn’t be the case this time — and the now-competent (and well-balanced) Chiefs might just walk away with a convincing win. Chiefs 35, Chargers 17
Bryan Stewart (@BryanStewart_)
I originally was ready to predict a Chiefs win by at least 10 points, but the COVID-19 problems have somewhat leveled the playing field. This Kansas City defense became very good largely due to improved health, so I can’t ignore what might happen now that they are technically no longer very healthy. With that being said, this defensive unit was even less healthy when they first met the Chargers back in September, so I can’t foresee them performing any worse on Thursday night than they did that day. Overall, this Chiefs team is playing with a level of focus that is hard for anyone to match right now — let alone a Chargers team that can be so inconsistent. The division title — and just maybe the first-round bye — will be on the line. Matchup-wise, the Chiefs would be wise to see if they can really impose their will early by running the football against the Chargers’ run defense — a unit that has struggled tremendously. The players and coaches haven’t forgotten what happened in Week 3 at Kansas City. They’re going to come out playing inspired football under the national spotlight; Andy Reid and his players will hold nothing back. Depth will again be put to the test on the defensive side of the football, but I like the Chiefs to overcome the obstacles in a way that screams ‘Super Bowl Contender’. Chiefs 32, Chargers 24
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
Do you know what’s worse than missing Willie Gay Jr., Chris Jones and L’Jarius Sneed? Missing Gay, Frank Clark, Charvarius Ward, Melvin Ingram — and Juan Thornhill (for the bulk of starting snaps). Those circumstances — along with four Kansas City turnovers — are what it took for the Chargers to knock off the Chiefs in Week 3... and by one score. Now, let’s be clear: we know how the league works; the Chargers team the Chiefs saw in Week 3 is not the same team they’ll encounter on Thursday night. Los Angeles is better now — and you could make the case that this is the most important game for the organization in quite some time. I expect Justin Herbert, who is fittingly being considered in the realm of Patrick Mahomes, to bring his best game. But I think Kansas City can still do enough to curb him — and the Chiefs, who have lately cleaned it up offensively, won’t beat themselves as they did in Round 1. Gay and Jones missing from the lineup is bad, but Los Angeles will likely be without its starting left tackle for the same reason — and running back Austin Ekeler is battling an ankle injury. I think the player the Chiefs need to be great Thursday night is Clark — and lately, he has been. Chiefs 31, Chargers 29
Ethan Willinger (@ecwillinger)
It’s tempting to point to the Chiefs’ four turnovers in their narrow loss to the Chargers in Week 3, note that they’ve improved their turnover differential and predict a comfortable win for the red and gold. But the Chargers are starting to play their best football of the season, too. Brandon Staley is slowly patching the holes in the Chargers’ defense — and Joe Lombardi (finally) seems to be allowing Herbert to unleash the offense’s big-play potential. But while the Los Angeles offense has been more consistent than Kansas City’s, I’m not ready to think the Chiefs will drop two games to the same AFC West opponent this season. Kansas City should be the more physical team — and its defense has improved at every level since Week 3. Melvin Ingram goes Kill Bill: Volume 1 all over the Chargers — and the Pittsburgh Steelers sleep with one eye open on Christmas night, awaiting their impending doom in the sequel. Chiefs 27, Chargers 24
Which team wins Chiefs (9-4) at Chargers (8-5)?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout (14 or more points)
Chiefs in an easy win (8-13 points)
Chiefs in a close game (7 or fewer points)
Chargers in a close game
Chargers in an easy win
Chargers in a blowout
|14||14||Ron Kopp Jr.||8||5||0.6154||37.5|
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
Among the staff in Week 15, Matt Stagner’s 35-10 prediction was closest to the mark. With 28 points of error, it gave him his first win of the season. Pete Sweeney’s 33-10 pick had 32 points of error to take second place. Once again, there was little movement in the standings.