A month ago, it looked like the Kansas City Chiefs were going to easily run away with the AFC West, while the Los Angeles Chargers were headed for a third-straight sub-.500 season. But after four Kansas City losses in their last five games, coupled with a four-game winning streak by LA, they’re both 7-6, and Saturday night’s matchup between the divisional rivals is suddenly one of the most important games on the Week 15 slate.
Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 8:25 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on NFL Network. If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can still watch the game online, on your tablet, or on another streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services. They cost a monthly fee but all come with a free trial, allowing you to watch tonight’s game at no cost:
FuboTV: NFL Network is included in the “Fubo Premier” channel package. If you sign up for a free 7-day trial, you can then watch NFL Network on your computer via the FuboTV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the FuboTV app.
Sling TV: NFL Network is included in the “Sling Blue” channel package. If you sign up for a free 7-day trial, you can then watch NFL Network on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app
PlayStation Vue: There are four main channel packages, while NFL Network is included in three of them: “Core,” “Elite” and “Ultra”. If you sign up for a free 5-day trial, you can then watch on your computer via the PS Vue website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the PlayStation Vue app
Note: NFL games can only be watched on your phone via the NFL app, and only if you have Verizon. You can still watch via any of the above services on any device that isn’t a phone.
There’s still a little bit more to it, but this matchup is essentially going to serve as the AFC West Title Game. Per FiveThirtyEight’s algorithm, a win for the Chiefs–who already beat LA back in September–gives them a 95 percent chance to win the division, while a Chargers victory puts their odds at securing the West at 71 percent.
“It certainly gives you a heck of a lot better chance of winning it if you win this game,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said. “But if you win this game, it’s not over yet. It’s a big game. I think it’s important to know what’s at stake — which I think we all do — but at the same time to keep the same approach we’ve had that’s been working.”
One might assume that Kansas City is the favorite here–not only did they handle the Chargers in LA by two touchdowns earlier this season, but they’ve reeled off seven consecutive wins against the Bolts, and they’re always tough at Arrowhead, where they haven’t lost to the Chargers in four years.
But how you’ve played recently means a lot more, and with both teams moving in the opposite direction over the last month, the Chargers are favored by 1.5 points on the road.
A big factor in Kansas City’s ability to beat those odds will be their effectiveness in the run game. During their recent four-game losing streak, stud rookie running back Kareem Hunt averaged just 14.5 touches and 56.75 yards per contest with zero touchdowns. In their bounce-back 26-15 win over the Oakland Raiders last week, he piled up 28 touches for 138 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
“I liked it. We mixed it up,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said. “Certainly when we got into the meat of the game, I think you saw a little more with that. We were able to take our shots there with Kareem and I thought he ran hard, the offensive line blocked great.”
In the last matchup between these two teams, Hunt exploded for 172 rushing yards–including a 69-yard fourth-quarter scamper to seal the win–on 17 carries. And while the Bolts have played better run defense over their last couple games, they still rank 30th in the NFL in yards per carry allowed (4.7) and 26th in Football Outsiders’ run defense rankings.
If the Chiefs can continue last week’s success on the ground, they’ll be in good shape to grab control of the AFC West. But if they’re forced to be one-dimensional against the Chargers’ elite pass rush and secondary, you can expect LA’s winning streak to continue. Either way, it stacks up as one of the best games of Week 15.