NFL Week One Predictions: Chargers vs. Chiefs

In week one of the NFL season, two AFC West foes clash as the San Diego Chargers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City.

Vegas odds have placed the Chargers as 4 1/2-point road favorites. The Chargers were 5-3 against the spread (ATS) on the road in 2009 and the Seahawks were 2-6 at home ATS as the underdog. The Chargers have won five straight games in this series going back to 2007 and won in blow-outs 43-14 and 37-7 last season.

The Chiefs have been a popular pick for vast improvement in 2010 but, for a team that only 4 games a year ago, that would seem a tall order. However, the Chiefs have some weapons, especially offensively, to feel good about going into the season. Quarterback Matt Cassel is entering his second season in the Chiefs’ offense and he has the physical tools to get the job done. Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was a major disappointment last season and looks to rebound this season. Veteran Chris Chambers and exciting rookie Dexter McCluster gives Cassel some other options. Jamaal Charles was an exciting find at running back, piling-up over 1,100 yards and 7 TDs in limited action and he is listed as second on the depth chart behind Thomas Jones, a free agent from the Jets, who had 1,400 yards rushing and 14 TDs in 2009. Those two players should provide a terrific 1-2 punch.

Offensively, the Chiefs could find success against the Chargers, who must replace an impact cornerback and a wide load in the middle. Antonio Gary takes over for Jamal Williams at nose tackle while Antoine Cason is the new cornerback. The Chiefs, with the resurgent Bowe, should go right at Cason while the running game could find success between the tackles without Williams around to clog things up. The Chargers demon at outside linebacker, Shawne Merriman, is questionable for this game but San Diego still has impact players in linebackers Shaun Phillips and Stephen Cooper as well as defensive tackle Luis Castillo.

How much are the Chiefs improved? Not enough to stop the losing streak against San Diego, even at home during MNF, but the game could be tighter than the spread dictates.

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