NFL Thursday Night Football predictions: Chargers vs Chiefs picks and best bets from expert analyst Clevta - Justin Herbert excels

Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers

Clevta’s Chargers vs Chiefs best bet: 1H Under 27 (-110)

1H Under 27 widely available at time of publishing.

I know this is a scary proposition between these two teams and QBs, but I think this total is a bit inflated. I would have thought it was too high even with Keenan Allen in the lineup, and with him out the under looks even better. It’s a small sample and I fully understand the Chargers had the lead from start to finish in Week 1 against the Raiders and were therefore more conservative, but after Allen left the game late in the first half the Chargers’ offense really slowed down. In the second half, Herbert was only 9-of-14 for 75 yards and a minuscule 5.4 yards per attempt. He had only 3 completions of more than 10 yards and 2 of them were to Ekeler with the other being a desperation 18-yard TD throw to Gerald Everett.

The Chargers were already thin at WR behind Allen and Williams, so there are not a lot of proven WRs to go to on a short week. In either case, more attention will be given by the KC defense to Williams so it will be harder for Herbert to push down the field for big plays.

Meanwhile, the improved Chargers defense was as advertised and pressured Derek Carr at an excellent 30% rate with 6 sacks. Carr posted a poor 43% success rate and -0.108 EPA per drop back. This pass rush and defense overall are not being properly valued in the market in my opinion. These teams played in Week 3 last season, with Tyreek Hill still in KC and a healthy Allen on the Chargers, and the total was basically the same at 54.5. Once you incorporate a better defense of the Chargers, I think this number is too high.

Why I like the first-half under more than the game total is that these two teams have a propensity to play wild fourth quarters. I would like to filter out the randomness of these late-game situations in which both teams are incentivized to push it down the field. In fact, in 3 games of Herbert vs Mahomes, all 3 have gone under in the first half with 17, 24 and 20 total points scored in the first half. In those same 3 games, the fourth quarters and OT have produced 17, 37 and 35 total points. It’s much less likely that this game goes over in the first half but under for the game than vice versa, so first half only helps shelter you from those late-game fireworks.

Additionally, the Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker left last week’s game with an ankle injury. While he did come back to make a late kick, he is not 100 percent and every potential missed kick is important here.

Be sure to check out our full Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs predictions

Clevta’s ATS bet: Chargers +4.5 (-110) over Chiefs

Chargers +4 widely available at time of publishing. Playable at that number.

There is no major edge here, but this is more of a number grab following a slight overreaction to the Chiefs’ performance last week. These two teams have played three games involving Herbert and Mahomes and two of the three went to OT with the third being won by the Chargers on a last-second TD drive. Herbert is 2-1 ATS against KC when the Chiefs have Mahomes under center and the only loss was in OT as a +3 underdog last season. The Chargers’ defense will put up way bigger fight than the anemic Cardinals did last week. I don’t think last week showed us anything different than what we already knew from the Chiefs’ offense.

A couple of Week 1 to Week 2 trends fit the Chargers here, as well. Since 2010, teams coming off a blowout win (as defined by 21 points or more ) in Week 1 — like the Chiefs — have gone 7-19 ATS (27%) the following week. Last year this trend produced a 3-0 record if you faded the teams who won their opener in a blowout. This makes sense since the market over=inflates Week 2 lines on the heels of an emphatic victory. Also, just blindly betting underdogs in Week 2 has historically been profitable, as they are covering at a 54.3% clip since 2005. Herbert in general has been excellent as an underdog in his career, posting a 5-1 ATS record as a ‘dog of more than 3 points.

Lock in our Los Angeles Chargers vs Kansas City Chiefs same game parlay (+750 odds!)

Clevta has been a successful NFL handicapper for over a decade. His approach is a combination of bottoms-up fundamental team and matchup analytics along with a deep knowledge of the betting market to help drive success.

He has been a regular contestant in the Westgate NFL Supercontest and Circa Millions, where he has posted an aggregate 56% winning percentage, including four separate seasons with a win percentage of at least 60%. Now he brings his expert NFL handicapping skills to Pickswise.

You can find more of Clevta’s weekly NFL game analysis at

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