Week 2; Thursday Night Football; AFC West Shootout?

Let’s try this again shall we?! 

Week one of the 2022 season is in the books and it will go down as the week of the underdog and star wide receiver. We saw several teams that were tipped to win their division either losing or being pushed to the wire by teams seemingly only fighting for a top five draft pick. Almost every one of those big name wide receivers that changed team this off-season showed up for their new teams and a lot of star running backs struggled to put up the numbers we have come to expect of them. 

On the betting front we saw only five of the 16 games hit the over and around 70 fewer points than expected were scored. With some exciting matchups to come in week two, hopefully that all changes – starting with tonight’s Thursday Night Football.

This weeks opener is between the Chargers and the Chiefs, the two teams just behind the Bills as favourites for the AFC title. It also features two of football’s biggest young stars in Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes, and they just happen to play in the same division.

Chargers +4 @ Chiefs: 54.5

A lot can change in football but it feels like this rivalry will be one that defines the AFC West for the next five to ten years. At the moment, the Chiefs have the upper hand and have beaten the Chargers in 13 of their last 16 meetings on the way to winning the division in each of the last seven years. But the Chargers are a team on the up and two of those three wins came on their last two visits to Arrowhead, where Justin Herbert is yet to lose. 

Kansas City started the season with a blowout win over Arizona and LA held off another AFC West rival in the Las Vegas Raiders. For the Chiefs all eyes were on whether or not the offense could remain as dynamic as we are used to without the elite deep threat of Tyreek Hill and the answer was a resounding yes. A whopping 50% of their plays resulted in a first down as Mahomes and co put up six touchdowns without even breaking a sweat against the Cardinals. 

Things should not be so easy for them this week though with Khalil Mack joining forces with Joey Bosa in what should be a formidable defensive line for the Chargers. Mack look revitalised against his old team last week and recorded three sacks, if he and Bosa can stay healthy that will go a long way towards the Chargers living up to the preseason hype. 

This game has all the makings of a shootout and the temptation is to just take the over on any bet we can find but I will pick out some of my favourites below.

Chargers

The big news for the Chargers heading into this one is that Keenan Allen has been ruled out after leaving the game in the first half on Sunday with a hamstring injury. Despite not playing in the second half he led the team in yards, catching all four of his targets for 64. Herbert didn’t seem to miss him too much and instead spread the ball around with nine different receivers catching passes from him. But heading into a matchup against the Chiefs where they are going to have to score points on almost every drive, he will be a big miss. 

Josh Palmer had a lot of training camp hype and figures to be the main beneficiary in the receiving game with Allen out and he will surely feature heavily in our DFS lineups. His line is 44.5 which I would lean the over on purely because he is going to be the second option in this offense but it’s worth noting he only surpassed that line twice in his rookie season (once was with Allen out). You can get him as high as 3/1 to score a touchdown anytime which honestly might be more appealing. 

Mike Williams is going to need to have a bigger role than last week where he only had 14 yards on two catches. His line is up at 65.5 and we all know he could just wipe that out in one play but I think I am a bit hesitant on it based on how much they spread the ball around last week. 

You can get Herbert’s passing line for 279.5, which I think is a number he will have to smash for the Chargers to keep in this game so I would be confident on the over there. 

Austin Ekeler had a bit of a reduced role last week with the other running backs more involved than we are used to. But in this matchup you have to assume the Chargers look to get their best players involved as much as they can and for Ekeler I like the over on 4.5 receptions. You could also look at his receiving yards which is down at 37.5 on Bet365.

Harry How/Getty Images

Chiefs

The Chiefs came flying out the blocks last week, as seems to be the case every year with Mahomes under centre. It’s the third time in his five seasons as the starter that they have opened the season scoring at least 40 points (and they hit 30 in the other two games). With Mack and Bosa around the Chargers are going to put him under more pressure than the Cardinals managed but he has shown throughout his career that he can handle that. 

You can get his passing line for 295.5 if, like me, you want to take the over. But in some places it does tick over 300, e.g. 301.5 with SkyBet. He is also better than evens for over 2.5 touchdowns which I don’t mind given how creative they are around the goal-line and how rare it is that they just run it in. 

If Mahomes is going over 300 yards then we have to assume that Travis Kelce is going to be close to the over on his line too, which is just under 80 yards. If it’s a close game and Mahomes needs to make a play, he is surely going to be looking to his tight end with no Tyreek Hill in town. Again though, I think I prefer the odds of a Kelce touchdown, even though it’s as low as 5/6. 

I don’t have a lot of confidence in the rest of the receiving or rushing options for the Chiefs just because we don’t have much of a sample to go on yet. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had one of his better games and caught two touchdowns on three targets but if I was taking a bet on him, it would be the under on 49.5 rushing yards with Paddy Power. You would assume he needs 10+ carries to hit that mark which I don’t see happening if this game is going to be as high scoring as expected. 

Who wins?

This game genuinely looks like it could come down to which team gets to the ball last, similar to that infamous playoff game between the Chiefs and Bills last season. I do think the Chargers step up this season and put in a serious challenge for the AFC West title but I have to take the Chiefs at home in this one and with Keenan Allen missing. 

In terms of the total it is tempting to just take the over regardless of how high it is but I think I would avoid a line of 54.5. It takes a lot for a game to go that high and Thursday games tend to be a bit lower because of the short week. These two teams will probably prove to be an exception to that but if that happens, at least we’ll have been entertained.

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