There was a time earlier this season in which the Kansas City Chiefs didn't look like the favorite in the AFC West.
They spent some time in last place of the division. The defense was awful. The offense struggled more than anyone expected. And they'd already lost a home game to the Los Angeles Chargers, which is huge in tiebreakers.
The Chiefs stabilized. They are playing much better defense, the offense looks great when they play the Las Vegas Raiders (not so great against other opponents yet) and they come into Thursday night's rematch with the Chargers a game up in the AFC West. The Chiefs are a 3-point favorite at BetMGM. A Chiefs win would practically end the AFC West race. If the Chargers win, they'd be tied with the Chiefs, own the tiebreaker and have an easier schedule the rest of the way.
This is a fun Thursday night matchup.
The outlook of the Chiefs' season changes dramatically with this game. With a win, they have a division title all but clinched, can chase the No. 1 seed in the AFC and would be considered a sure Super Bowl contender. With a loss, they won't be the favorite to win the AFC West anymore. It's not impossible to make the Super Bowl as a wild card, but it's a lot tougher.
The problem the Chiefs have is one that's common around the league this week: COVID-19. Defensive lineman Chris Jones, one of the true difference-making non-quarterbacks in the NFL, is on the COVID list and might not play. Linebacker Willie Gay (COVID list) and cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (personal) have also been ruled out. That's not great against a Chargers team that can score in bunches. Of course, the Chargers probably need running back Austin Ekeler (ankle), cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (concussion) and safety Derwin James (hamstring) to win this big showdown. Those players will be game-time decisions.
This is one of the more meaningful Thursday night games of the season. The Chiefs seem like the right side. They've already had quite the resurgence this season.
Here's a first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:
Any good props for TNF?
Over the Chiefs' last six games, Tyreek Hill is averaging 64.1 yards per game. He has gone over 80 yards twice, and once was barely over the mark at 83. It's scary to bet the under on Hill, but 81.5 receiving yards at BetMGM is too high.
It's also worth looking at the over for Mike Williams' 55.5 receiving yards. Williams disappeared for a while from the offense, but the last two games he has 110 and 61 yards. He had 122 yards against the Chiefs in the first meeting. Kansas City won't have L'Jarius Sneed at cornerback. The Chargers have to know that they're at their best when Williams is heavily involved.
What else is on the schedule?
It's a fairly light day. There are four NBA games, and Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets is the highlight. Brooklyn is a 1.5-point favorite. Duke is the only Top 25 college basketball team in action. There are 10 NHL games and three English Premier League matches on the schedule, as well.
What's the best bet?
Let's go with the Chiefs. They've come too far this season to lose on Thursday night and perhaps blow the division.