Chargers vs Chiefs Week 3 Picks and Predictions: Guilty as Charged

L.A. has been struggling to find the endzone, while KC has been utterly unable to keep opponents out of it. Something's gotta give as these AFC West squads clash in Week 3, and our Chargers vs Chiefs picks lay out your best bets for Sunday.

Last Updated: Sep 26, 2021 5:59 AM ET Read Time: 5 min
Justin Herbert NFL Los Angeles Chargers
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

A massive matchup in the AFC West takes the Los Angeles Chargers to Arrowhead Stadium for a run-in with the rival Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.

The NFL betting odds opened Kansas City as big as a touchdown favorite but after the Chiefs’ loss at Baltimore Sunday night, this spread has dipped under the key number to KC -6.5 at some books.

The Chargers, who let a home game slip away versus Dallas last Sunday, are 12-5-3 ATS as road underdogs since moving to L.A. in 2017.

Here are our free NFL picks and predictions for Chargers at Chiefs on September 26.

Chargers vs Chiefs odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The lookahead line for this divisional matchup was set at Chiefs -7.5 back in the spring. The official Week 2 opener hit the board at a touchdown and action on the underdog Bolts has slimmed this to Kansas City -6.5 (-115) although there are some books still dealing the TD spread (L.A. +7 -115). The total has climbed from an opening number of 54.5 to 55.5 with early play on the Over.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full NFL odds before placing your bets.

Chargers vs Chiefs picks

Picks made on 9/21/2021 at 3:50 p.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Chargers vs Chiefs game info

Location: Stadium, City, State
Date: Sunday, September 26, 2021
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
TV: CBS, FOX, NBC, ESPN, ABC, or NFL NETWORK

Chargers at Chiefs betting preview

Weather

Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our NFL weather info.

Key injuries

Chargers: Justin Jones DE (Out), Chris Harris Jr. CB (Out), Bryan Bulaga RT (Out).
Chiefs: Willie Gay LB (Out), Kyle Long G (Out), Frank Clark DE (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.

Betting trend to know

Going back to 2000, the Chargers franchise is 21-11-7 ATS as a road dog visiting a divisional opponent, including a 3-1-2 ATS mark in those spots since moving to L.A. 2017. Find more NFL betting trends for Chargers vs. Chiefs.

Chargers vs Chiefs predictions

Los Angeles’ new offense installed by new coordinator Joe Lombardi is going through some growing pains in the opening weeks of the season, namely inside of opponents’ 20-yard line. 

The Chargers have entered the red zone 10 times in two games and came away with a touchdown on only three of those drives. Justin Herbert has completed 8 of 16 throws inside the red zone – a stark contrast to his 75 percent completion rate elsewhere - leaving L.A. to rank 31st in Red Zone Offense DVOA at Football Outsider. 

Luckily, their opponent this week has rolled out the red-zone carpet for foes so far in 2021. Kansas City has allowed opponents inside the 20-yard line eight times and has handed out TDs on all eight of those defensive “stands”. The Chiefs are 31st in Defensive DVOA overall including 28th in Red Zone DVOA.

Granted, Kansas City played against two of the best rushing offenses in football and it’s showed in the stat sheet: getting run over for 404 total yards on the ground the past two weeks. But while Herbert and the passing game is the focal point of the Chargers attack, RB Austin Ekeler is a dangerous dual-threat option who compiled 148 total yards (93 rush, 55 pass) against Kansas City last September.

The Chiefs have yet to play a complete game, needing a second-half surge to battle back against the Browns in Week 1 before barfing up two 11-point leads in the second half to the Ravens in Week 2. Those inconsistent efforts have burned bettors, who have cashed just two winners on KC since Week 9 of last year (2-11 ATS last 13 overall including playoffs).

If you can shop around for the touchdown spread, it’s worth the extra vig on Los Angeles. If not, Kansas City -6.5 is out there as high as -115 and the public will likely come back on KC later in the week expecting a big bounce back at home from Patrick Mahomes & Co. Once you see L.A. +7, grab it.

While L.A. limited a potent Dallas attack to only 20 points, it gave up 25 first downs, seven yards per play and watched the Cowboys convert 6 of 10 third-down snaps. The pass rush collected two sacks but didn’t get consistent pressure on Dak Prescott and has manifested pressure on only 18 percent of dropbacks in two games so far.

Enter Mahomes and an offense that has scored 68 total points in two games against respectable AFC North stop units. Kansas City is No. 2 in Offensive DVOA and boasts an EPA per dropback of +0.541 – head and shoulders tops in the league after two weeks.

Mahomes is creating playmakers out of anyone with their hands up. He hit nine different targets in the loss to the Ravens, including getting solid efforts from WRs Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson. Tyreek Hill finished with only three grabs for 14 yards and Mahomes still amassed 343 yards through the air in Week 2. Game plan for that.

The Chargers are ranked 21st in defending WRs outside of the top two targets and have struggled versus tight ends as well, sitting 28th in Defensive DVOA versus TEs. The Bolts are allowing 10.6 yards per reception to tight ends and face the blueprint for the position in Travis Kelce, who has 185 yards on 15 catches and three TDs this year. 

The Chargers are fifth in total yards per game (416 ypg) but just 27th in points scored (18.5 ppg) and the bulk of those scores have come in the first 30 minutes. In fact, 24 of the team’s total 37 points have been tallied in the first half – 65 percent.

The Chiefs are known for starting quickly, posting 21 points in a fast and furious first half in Baltimore, and even though it managed just 10 points in the opening two frames versus Cleveland, KC ranks No. 3 in 1H Offense DVOA after two games.

As long as the Bolts offense doesn’t burn itself with penalties again (12 versus Dallas), there will be plenty of first-half fireworks in Arrowhead Sunday.

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