San Diego Chargers
(0-0, 0-0 ATS)
Kansas City Chiefs
(0-0, 0-0 ATS)
Last season, the San Diego Chargers crippled the Kansas City Chiefs twice. Now, the two teams are going to be taking to the field at Arrowhead Stadium on the first Monday night of the year in NFL betting action.
The Bolts have a whole new look from what they had in 2009. Yes, names like QB Philip Rivers, TE Antonio Gates, RB Darren Sproles, and LB Shawne Merriman are back, but others like RB LaDainian Tomlinson, WR Vincent Jackson, and DB Antonio Cromartie are gone. The loss of Tomlinson was offset by the addition of rookie RB Ryan Mathews. The rookie out of Fresno State was the second back taken in the NFL Draft, and San Diego mortgaged a bunch of draft picks to snare him. This is the favorite to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, as the Bolts are inevitably going to end up running Mathews a ton of times both in this game and for the season. Jackson and Cromartie after different cases, though. The receiver is still holding out and probably will never play for the Chargers again. Cromartie joins LT as a New York Jet, and there isn’t a viable option that appears to be ready to step in and replace him.
The addition of RB Thomas Jones in the offseason could give the Chiefs one of the most dangerous rushing attacks in the game. The question is whether their offensive line is going to allow for those holes to open up for both Jones and RB Jamaal Charles. Adding WR/RB Dexter McCluster is going to help this unit out as well, but the rookie from Ole Miss is listed as doubtful for this game on Monday night. The return game clearly has a marked improvement with the addition of DB Javier Arenas. KC hasn’t seen a returner like this since Dante Hall was in town. Arenas could also help out a defense which was ripped to shreds last season by a number of foes, including to the tune of 80 points in two games by these Chargers. The bigger additions are DC Romeo Crennel and SS Eric Berry, who many are comparing to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu. If Berry really does have that type of an impact, the Chiefs could be a very, very surprising team this season.
Though Kansas City ultimately needs a big win to get HC Todd Haley going in his head coaching career, we aren’t so sure that this is the day for that to happen. The Chiefs have been killed by the Chargers in the past, but when push comes to shove, it is really hard to ignore the fact that the Bolts are 24-10-4 ATS in their last 38 games against AFC West rivals. It should be a dog fight, but San Diego is the play for our Monday Night Football free picks.
Selection: San Diego Chargers -5