The final week of the NFL regular season is finally upon us. It’s been a thrilling season in 2014, though much of the drama has already been sapped out of things prior to Week 17. That said, that is definitely not the case in our first featured write-up from Kansas City as the Chiefs battle the desperate Chargers. For San Diego it is simple. Despite being banged-ip, if they can manage a win, they’ll be in. But their opponents are facing a similar plight in that the Chiefs also need a victory (and a lot of help) to qualify for next week’s post-season. It’s always fun when it comes down to just 60 minutes of football, and that’s exactly what we have for you today. Even without Alex Smith at the helm, Chase Daniel being in at quarterback for the Chiefs adds a new wrinkle to this already intriguing clash. Read on below for a full game breakdown and the official selection for this tilt with major playoff implications.
Chargers at Chiefs Betting Odds:
San Diego Chargers PK (-110)
@ Kansas City Chiefs PK (-110)
Over 40.5 (-110)
Under 40.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
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Chargers at Chiefs Pick:
When you think about it, it’s pretty miraculous that the San Diego Chargers still manage to control their own destiny as we enter Week 17. This was a team that was down by three touchdowns to the 49ers a couple weeks back, and that unbelievable comeback has them sitting in the driver’s seat today against the Chiefs. Even though Philip Rivers is obviously banged up and battling a multitude of injuries, he’s a gamer and lives for these situations. Unfortunately for Rivers, he’ll again be without top target in Keenan Allen. Look for the likes of Antonio Gates, Malcolm Floyd, and Eddie Royal all to be able to step up in his absence. One of the big keys to the Chargers moving the ball today, will be stopping the pass rush of the Chiefs. Kansas City simply gets at opposing quarterbacks, and with the Chargers recent string of pass protection, it’s a cause for concern. Look for the Chargers to keep that pass rush in check though with a healthy dose of the run game from the surprising Branden Oliver. Kansas City enters Week 17 holding the NFL’s worst rush defense and have consistently shown an inability this year to stop opposing rushers. Expect Oliver to have a solid day on the ground, and that will set up Rivers nicely in the passing game. He’ll be mostly in short-yardage situations and that will help protect against Kansas City’s solid pass rush.
On the other side of the football, a lot is in flux with the Chiefs current plan of attack. Without Alex Smith under centre, it remains to be seen how the relatively untested Chase Daniel will fare today. The Chiefs still somehow have not managed to throw a touchdown pass all year to a receiver, and yet here they are with a chance at the post-season. Even though Alex Smith is limited in his abilities and isn’t the most naturally-gifted quarterback, it’s very tough to just hand the full reigns of operations over to the backup in a pivotal Week 17 clash. Since San Diego lost to Kansas City back in October, their defense has significantly improved, and as a result look for a tough outing from Chase Daniel today. Linebackers Melvin Ingram, Manti Te’o, and Jeremiah Attaochu are all healthy now and have continued to be huge presences for the San Diego stop unit. Since Week 10 San Diego boasts a top-5 defense in most categories, and that type of performance should continue against the Chiefs underwhelming and unproven offense with Daniel at the helm. Add in the fact that key corner Brandon Flowers is in a different league for San Diego, and the Chiefs will be hard-pressed to move the chains today. Flowers has been excellent in the secondary for the Bolts, completely changing the dynamic of the passing game when he’s been healthy and at his best. He’ll be motivated too today as he’ll suit up against his former squad for the first time in his career. Expect San Diego to completely take away the passing game and focus on stacking the box against Charles to make this Kansas City offense one-dimensional.
It’s an unfortunate situation the Chiefs have found themselves in. They had to endure a difficult schedule down the stretch and now facing a must-win scenario without their starting quarterback will be an obstacle too tough to overcome. The Chargers are a battle-tested group that have shown a knack for embracing the moment, and doing what needs to be done to secure the victory. Their defense has really improved of late, and their rushing attack should completely overwhelm Kansas City. They’ll control the clock and the tempo of the game on the legs of Branden Oliver, and run all the way to an AFC playoff berth.
PICK = Chargers PK (-110)