Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Kickoff: 10 a.m. PT
At first glance, Sunday’s season finale in Kansas City looks to only be meaningful for one reason, that being the AFC West champion Chiefs’ quest for a first-round playoff bye. They would attain such crucial positioning if they win and the New England Patriots lose their contest.
But there’s also another underlying storyline that is actually quite significant: Philip Rivers may be partaking in his final game with the Chargers.
The 38-year-old’s contract is set to expire at season’s end, and while it’s the only franchise Rivers has ever suited up for since entering the league in 2004, there’s uncertainty about who will be lining up behind center for Los Angeles next year.
Rivers has made it clear he wants to keep playing regardless. Pertaining to this bet, this is a very important point of emphasis because it ensures the multiple-time Pro Bowler will be fully motivated (in trying to prove he’s still got it, which he’s repeatedly maintained), something that is very significant when dealing with losing teams on the last day of the season.
Obviously, Rivers has enjoyed a long and successful career with the Bolts, albeit one that has not included a Super Bowl title. Even so, if this is indeed his final hurrah as a Charger, you can expect him to go out swinging. I would expect Rivers and Co. to treat it like a postseason affair.
Though the elements at Arrowhead Stadium are typically not friendly in December for opposing quarterbacks, Week 17 might prove to be an exception.
One, Rivers actually said he likes playing in Kansas City, even referring to Arrowhead as an “awesome atmosphere” and likening it to “old-school NFL.” In 14 career road dates against the Chiefs, Rivers has averaged 280 yards, a type of performance we would gladly welcome.
Secondly (and thankfully), the weather is supposed to cooperate. Temperatures in the mid-40’s are expected, and perhaps most importantly, no precipitation is in the forecast.
On the other side of the equation, the Chiefs have legit championship hopes. They appear to be hitting their stride at the right time, having won five in a row entering the last week of the campaign.
Patrick Mahomes, a true model of consistency, has been looking like his old self again, which wasn’t so much the case when he returned from injury several weeks ago. In his last pair of outings, Mahomes completed 50-of-67 passes (74.6 percent) while totaling 591 yards and four touchdowns compared to one interception. Those impressive numbers came opposite quality defenses (Denver Broncos, Chicago Bears), too.
It’s clear that the Texas Tech product is in his usual rhythm, and when that’s the case, a notable day from this Kansas City offense can be anticipated. That’s especially true at home, as the Chiefs have averaged more than 30 points per game in Mahomes’ 15 career starts at Arrowhead, tallying at least 24 on the scoreboard in all but two of them.
Sure, KC fell one point shy of that threshold in its last home game but gradual snowfall was the main culprit for their lack of scoring in the second half. Weather won’t be a factor here, and if we’re getting the usual showing from this Mahomes-led offense, that can only be good for an over.
Don’t overthink it. The Chiefs are undoubtedly still one of the most explosive teams in the league and continue to score at a healthy rate. Matching that up with a Chargers squad that routinely hangs in there (remarkably, only one of their 10 losses was by more than a score) figures to provide enough juice for an over wager.
Normally, I don’t recommend buying anything (let alone a full point) when a total is already on the most important number of 45, but I want to absolutely make sure I’m protected in the event of a 24-20/27-17 outcome. It is a Chargers game, after all. Play: OVER 44 (-130)
Last Week: Bills-Patriots Over 37 (WIN), Ravens-Browns Over 49 (loss)
Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 10-9, -0.6 unit
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit