Kansas City Chiefs (2-0-0 SU, 2-0-0 ATS, 2-0 O/U) vs. Los Angeles Chargers (0-2-0 SU, 0-1-1 ATS, 1-1-0 O/U)
When and Where: Sunday, Sept. 24, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif., 4:35 p.m. EDT.
Line: Chiefs -3
Seeking their second 3-0 start in four seasons, Alex Smith and the big-play Kansas City Chiefs try to keep pace in the rugged AFC West on Sunday when they face their intradivision rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, at StubHub Center.
Kansas City’s offense generating lots of points and big yards
Smith and the Chiefs (2-0) showed their season-opening victory at defending champion New England was no fluke by holding off Philadelphia 27-20 in their home opener last Sunday. Smith completed 21 of 28 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown while Kareem Hunt contributed a 53-yard scoring run and a second rushing touchdown as Kansas City kept pace with Oakland and Denver atop the AFC West.
Four of Kansas City’s nine touchdowns have been on plays of 21 yards or longer after having just nine offensive scoring plays of 20 or more yards all of last season. Smith has completed 77.8 percent of his passes for 619 yards and five TDs without an interception on the young season, while Hunt, a third-round rookie out of Toledo, has averaged 9.1 yards per touch between his 30 carries and eight receptions while scoring five times.
Kansas City’s 7.59 yards per play is more than a full yard better than any other team in the league, and the Chiefs have been at their best on first down, averaging a NFL-best 11.23 yards on 47 plays. No other team is generating more than 7.85 yards per first down play.
While the defense hasn’t put up gaudy statistics, they are getting to the quarterback, evidenced by their nine sacks thus far. Because they’ve been playing with a lead for most of their two wins, the Chiefs have allowed 600 passing yards, but they’ve also allowed just a 50 percent completion rate.
No home-field advantage for the Chargers just yet
Los Angeles began its three-year stint at the StubHub Center with a tough 19-17 loss to Miami last Sunday. Philip Rivers threw for 331 yards and a touchdown, but the Chargers’ bend but don’t break defense allowed three field goals in the final 17:43 before Younghoe Koo missed a potential game-winning 44-yard field goal with five seconds left.
The defeat overshadowed Antonio Gates’ historic milestone as he caught his 112th touchdown pass, setting an NFL record for tight ends. But it was also a case of another tough loss for the Chargers regardless of venue, Los Angeles, San Diego or otherwise, as they’ve lost 11 games by eight or fewer points dating to the start of last season.
Rivers has gotten off to a fast start in his 14th season, completing 53 of 72 passes for 523 yards and four TDs with only one interception. His 318 career touchdown passes are three behind New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning for seventh on the all-time list and he’s 648 passing yards from eclipsing Fran Tarkenton to enter the top 10 all-time in that category.
The Chiefs are:
- 7-0-0 ATS in their last seven road games.
- 11-1-0 SU and 8-4-0 ATS versus AFC West opponents since the start of 2015.
- 5-1-0 ATS in their last six road games against the Chargers.
The Chargers are:
- 0-4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
- 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games versus AFC West opponents.
- 4-7-0 ATS versus the Chiefs at home when Philip Rivers starts at QB.
Right now, the Chiefs have whatever the “it” factor is in the NFL. Smith has completely gone away from the label of “game manager” as coach Andy Reid has added multiple offensive wrinkles thanks to the addition of Hunt on top of the mismatches tight end Travis Kelce creates with his size and speed.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Chargers, who have been doing just enough to lose games over the last season-plus. While Rivers has always been a gamer and capable of putting up big numbers regardless of opponents, there’s no reason to believe Los Angeles will match up well with a Kansas City team that enjoyed success on the road previously against the Chargers and should do again in this new venue.