Kansas City Chiefs
(8-4, 7-5 ATS)
San Diego Chargers
(6-6, 6-6 ATS)
This is the day of reckoning for the San Diego Chargers. If they don’t find a way to beat the Kansas City Chiefs and make for good Week 14 NFL picks, they are going to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. KC can’t quite lock up the division with a win, but it can get its magic number within two against the Oakland Raiders.
Christmas clearly came early for the Chiefs last week when said Raiders bounced the Bolts here at Qualcomm, as that opened up the two game cushion. Kansas City knows that it is playing with house money in this one, as three wins to end the regular season after this one is over would still get the job done and get it into the second season. QB Matt Cassel is the big time question mark in this one, as he had an emergency appendectomy on Wednesday and is listed as doubtful. He might not even make the trip with the team. If that’s the case, the pressure shifts to QB Brodie Croyle who, though he has some experience as a starter, has never really been effective in the role. The No. 1 rushing offense in the game is going to take a major load on come Sunday, as RBs Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones are inevitably going to be called upon at least 35 times between them, if not more, to be able to beat the Bolts. KC’s defense is going to be under the gun, too, especially in the secondary, where it is allowing 233.1 yards per game, ranking No. 21 in the NFL.
If San Diego can’t win this game in this situation, it doesn’t deserve to make it to the playoffs, and that’s what Head Coach Norv Turner has to be telling his men this week. A win doesn’t guarantee the Chargers anything except for life for another week, as they need to get some more help to win the AFC West, which looks like their only potential route into the second season. Statistically, you would think that this team is the most dominating in the NFL, not one that is hanging around .500. Averaging 281.4 yards per game allowed is the top mark in the league, while 397.4 yards per game offensively is No. 2. QB Philip Rivers has thrown for 3,652 yards on the season, and if he can rally his troops in this one and find a way to get them into the playoffs, he is going to be a legitimate MVP candidate. He has had to play with a mess load of different receivers this year, but once again, his top man is TE Antonio Gates, who has 782 yards and ten trips to the end zone on the campaign. Last week’s 28-13 loss to the Raiders was the first time since this four game winning streak started back on Halloween in which the Bolts scored fewer than 29 points in a game.
All signs point to San Diego in this one, but we really aren’t all that sure of the outcome quite yet. Croyle just has to do a very little bit to succeed in this one. The key is going to be the offensive line for the Chiefs, which will have to open up holes in the San Diego front seven for Charles and Jones to get through. If these two can combine for about 150 yards or so on the ground, KC can at least keep this one close. Don’t be surprised if this is another tremendous upset.
Pro Football Free Pick: Kansas City Chiefs +10