Last year, the Chargers were a longshot to earn a postseason berth heading into week 17. They needed a win over Kansas City at home plus losses by Baltimore, Miami, and Pittsburgh in order to make the playoffs.
After they got the help they needed, San Diego beat Kansas City in stunning fashion. The Chiefs missed a game-winning, 41-yard field goal with four seconds left; the Chargers then used a fake field goal in overtime to set them up for the winning score.
This year, the situation for San Diego is a lot less complicated: win and you’re in.
The bad news for the Chargers is that they will have to pick up the win on the road; the good news is that they have been tremendous at Arrowhead Stadium recently, winning two straight and five of the last seven.
In week 12 last year, the Chargers beat the Chiefs, 41-38, in Kansas City. The Chiefs took the lead on a six-play touchdown drive with less than two minutes to go, but the Chargers responded with a seven play, 78-yard TD drive of their own. Kansas City committed the only two turnovers in the game. The Chargers were seven for 15 on third down while K.C. went three for nine. San Diego outgained the Chiefs 491-395. Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles rushed for 115 yards and two scores on 14 carries in the loss.
This year, the two teams met in week 7. The Chiefs prevailed 23-20 at Qualcomm on a late field goal. This time, it was the Chargers who committed the game’s only turnover, and the Chiefs went seven for 14 on third down (versus San Diego’s three for 10).
San Diego began this year with an 18-17 loss at Arizona, but they went on to win five straight, thereafter, including a dominant home win over Seattle. That win streak was snapped by the Chiefs in week 7, commencing a three-game losing streak for the Chargers that almost killed their entire season. The team was able to rally, though, posting back-to-back wins to get to 8-4.
One of those wins was an epic fourth quarter comeback against the Ravens, when the Chargers were four-point road dogs. With under five minutes to play, the Chargers trailed by double-digits. But Rivers led two impeccable drives late in the game to pick up a narrow 34-33 win. His last minute TD pass to Eddie Royal will haunt the dreams of the Ravens all summer.
After home setbacks against New England and Denver, San Diego again trailed big against San Francisco last Saturday (28-7 at halftime, and 35-21 in the fourth quarter). But Rivers and company managed another heroic, season-saving comeback, ultimately winning in overtime, 38-35.
The Chargers are 9-6 overall, 7-8 against the spread, and 4-3 straight up and against the number on the road.
Kansas City has lost four of five but can still make the playoffs with a win against the Chargers and losses by Baltimore and Houston. They started the year 2-3, but then rattled off five straight Ws. The Chiefs lost at Oakland in week 12, though, and haven’t been the same team since, losing three of the next four to Denver, Arizona, and Pittsburgh. Their lone win over the last month was a 31-13 victory against the Raiders.
KC is 8-7 overall, 9-6 against the number, and 5-2 for betting purposes at home.
(Photo credit: Jeffrey Beall [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)