Thursday Night Preview and Saturday Bowls
Okay, so here's the real lowdown while heading into tonight's must-see NFL Week 15 showdown between the visiting Los Angeles Chargers at the Kansas City Chiefs: For this season's first seven weeks of play, KayCee was outta sight ... the Chiefs won six of their first seven games SU (straight-up) and covered all seven games and that included a 38-28 win in Week 1 at the then 3.5-point favored Chargers.
Ever since, Andy Reid's squad has stayed on top of the AFC West but in the past seven weeks the Chiefs are 5-1 SU and only 1-4-1 ATS with a Week 12 bye tossed into the mix. In short, the Chiefs have been good enough to keep stockpiling the SU wins but they failed as betting favorites against Denver, Arizona, Oakland and Baltimore and "pushed" in that wild 54-51 loss at the Los Angeles Rams back on the night of Nov. 19th.
Now, here's Las Vegas offering up Kansas City as your standard home-field favorite - that's 3.5 points - and the $64,000 question remains will the Chiefs continue their rather sloppy money-burning ways of late or do they resort to earlier in the 2018 campaign when KC was busy whacking folks by healthy margins?
If you're looking for "past performance" history here, then note the Chiefs are a collective 5-5 ATS in their last 10 home games against these Chargers - note the last time the Lightnin' Bolts beat Kansas City outright at Arrowhead Stadium was back in 2013 when the then 3-point favored Chiefs lost 41-38 as QB Philip Rivers aired a 26-yard touchdown pass to Seyi Ajirotutu with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter, so it's happened but you do have to go back five years to find the last time the Chargers come out on top both SU and ATS in noisy Arrowhead.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (10-3) at KANSAS CITY (11-2) - 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox / NFL Network
Maybe you think the battle for first place in the top-heavy AFC West will all come down to the old-and-young quarterbacks here: The aforementioned 37-year-old Rivers (3,638 yards passing with 29 TDs and 6 INTs) has not always been at his best against Kansas City as evidenced by 14 INTs thrown in his last nine games versus the Chiefs; Conversely, the 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes (4,300 yards passing with 43 TDs and 11 INTs) - fired four scoring strikes in that above-mentioned season opener and he's enabled the Chiefs to score 30-or-more points in 10 different games this year (KC's 7-2-1 against the odds when scoring that magic number in 2018).
But we say it's all about who's gonna make the gotta-have-it defensive plays here as the Chargers desperately need DE Joey Bosa to rush Mahomes into some mistakes here while KC's 30th-ranked defense needs CBs Kendall Fuller, Steven Nelson and Orlando Scandrick to "plaster" those dangerous Chargers' wide outs Keenan Allen (1,074 yards receiving with 6 TDs) and Tyrell Williams (32 receptions, 5 TDs). Let's see who gets "mission accomplished".
Spread Notes - Kansas City's 12-4 versus the vig in all AFC West games since the start of the 2016 season; the LA Chargers have covered five of their first seven road games this year and are overall 9-4-2 spreadwise away since the start of last year.
COLLEGE BOWL BONANZA
The College Bowl Season arrives Saturday with Five (5) on-the-board games ... here's the first two previews:
CURE BOWL - at Orlando, FL
TULANE (6-6) vs. UL-LAFAYETTE (7-6) - 1:30 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network
First bowl game for the Tulane Green Wave since 2013 season and the two-headed RB tandem of Darius Bradwell (984 yards rushing / 5.9 ypc / 9 TDs) and Corey Dauphine (754 yards rushing / 6.5 ypc and 7 TDs) must shine here for the 3.5-point favorites - meanwhile, this UL-Lafayette club has covered eight of its last 10 games as RB Trey Ragas (1,141 yards rushing / 5.8 ypc / 8 TDs) has cranked out seven 100-plus yard rushing performances. Is the totals price of 59 "too high" based on the basic running back strengths here?
NEW MEXICO BOWL - at Albuquerque, NM
UTAH STATE (10-2) vs. NORTH TEXAS (9-3) - 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
No question that the Utah State Aggies were one of college football's true "feel-good" stories this year while busy covering nine of their first 10 games - U-State finished regular-season play at 9-3 ATS - but head coach Matt Wells has bolted to Texas Tech and new/old Aggies' head coach Gary Anderson won't take over duties till after this bowl clash, so it's interim Frank Maile in charge for now and that's a tough chore (and thus one reason this Las Vegas price tag has come down from - 10 to 7.5 points). If North Texas is gonna cash, then keeping Utah State slinger Jordan Love (3,208 yards passing / 28 TDs / 5 INTs) in check is a must. Players to watch for the underdog Mean Green: QB Mason Fine has thrown for 3,734 yards with 27 TDs and WR Rico Bussey, Jr. (1,017 yards receiving / 12 TDs) have been a true dynamic duo but note North Texas skids into this game having failed to cover six of its last seven games.