Bolt Beat Week 15 Staff Picks: AFC West lead is up for grabs

CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Korey Toomer
CARSON, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: Korey Toomer /

It’s a special Saturday night game for the Los Angeles Chargers and it just happens to come with first place in the division on the line.

Can you believe we’re saying that?

It’s been a strange season in the NFL and in the AFC West itself with the Denver Broncos looking like one of the worst teams in football and the Oakland Raiders failing to capitalize on their great season from a year ago.

That leaves the Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs, two teams that met back in Week 3 with the Chiefs going into Los Angeles and beating the Chargers by 14 points. Can the Bolts return the favor?

The staff at Bolt Beat has had plenty of success in picking the Chargers lately. Is there any reason not to take them again this week? Let’s find out. Each writer’s win-loss record for the season is in parentheses.

Alexander Insdorf (9-4): “The Chargers are coming in hot on a 4 game winning streak and play their most important game in a few seasons. This one is for the division lead, and ultimately, probably for the division. The team is 7-2 in their last 9 now heading to Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs in a prime time matchup. The Chiefs have been struggling as of late, but they did look pretty great against the Raiders. Ultimately, I feel really conflicted on this pick. But when you’re this late in the season, the hot hand matters, and that’s why I’ll take the Chargers by a field goal (I also may be buying into the hype) LAC 27-KC 24”.

Scott Iger (7-6): “After a big win last week for both the Chargers and the Chiefs, the Bolts now face their most important match up of the season. A win by either team in this game would mean sole ownership of first place in the AFC West and important tiebreakers that will matter greatly down the stretch. With how well Rivers and the Chargers’ defense are playing right now, I simply can’t see a struggling Chiefs team (I think that their win against Oakland was more a result of the Raiders playing poorly than anything else) keeping up. I think the Bolts take the win, 30-13, solidifying themselves as one of the scariest teams in the AFC going into the final two games of the regular season.”

Tanner Wrape:The biggest Chargers game we’ve had in three years. Under the lights. Kansas City. Battle for the AFC West. This is going to be an incredible atmosphere and I cannot wait to see Keenan Allen’s revenge performance vs. Marcus Peters. I really believe he is going to have a career game. For the team as a whole, it will come down to discipline. Through this incredible 7-2 run, the Chargers have not turned the ball over and they have committed very few penalties. If they want a win in KC tonight, they HAVE to keep that trend rolling. This is really a toss up but my gut is telling me the Chargers stand a good chance to come away with a huge win. 24-20 Bolts and Gordon runs for 100 yards.”

Sean Kirk (5-1): “The Chargers will head out to KC in a game that will likely determine the division winner. The game will be the biggest for the Chargers for at least the last three years. The Chargers as healthy as they have been all year and are on an incredibly hot streak. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have struggled as of late despite beating a below average Oakland team. Bradley should bring lots of pressure against a depleted Chiefs O line. Rivers matches well against a poor Chiefs secondary and Keenan Allen should go off. The Chargers have the matchups they want but is it a different Chargers team than the last few years? I’ll say yes. Chargers win 27-17.”

Kade Dohmen (6-7): “Big night game in Arrowhead. Division championship apparently. Chargers offense is looking unstoppable. Chiefs are playing better in both sides lately. Comes down to Chargers D. I think Bosa, Ingram or Hayward comes up with a game-changing play. Bolts win, 27-21.”

Anthony Totri (9-4): “Uh oh, it’s time to pick a game that pretty much determines the Bolts’ playoff chances. Marcus Peters is going to be back in the lineup for KC, and he’ll likely follow Keenan Allen all over the field. However, that far from guarantees Peter swill have success against the red-hot Chargers’ offense. Not to mention, LA’s defense is performing at the highest of levels right now. Give me the Chargers 31 – Chiefs 27.”

Tyler Schoon (5-6): “This is a defining moment for the entire organization. Have they finally found a way to win bigger games? Is this coach able to lead his team and keep them focused in big moments? My guess: yes, they have, and Lynn will. We have beaten four average to poor teams and looked great doing it. 

I’m a believer in this team because we finally have the health, talent, and dare I say coaching that we’ve needed for years. The team plays for one another, and each phase of football seemsto elevate the other. If the offense doesn’t show up, the defense likely will. That’s what has me confident going into this game. Rivers may take a step back (it’s hard to take a step forward from where he’s been playing), but the defense should play strong. They sacked Smith five times last game. This game, they don’t have their starting center. I’ve got confidence, and I’m going bold:

Chargers 34, Chiefs 21.”

Matt Pagels (9-4): “This is the Chargers’ biggest game in years. A win against the Chiefs gives the Bolts great odds in winning the division for the first time since 2009. Will they continue to play at a high level against a good team? Or will they somehow let all of us fans down like seasons’ past? I think we’re seeing a different team with a different vibe under Anthony Lynn, and I believe the Chargers will win their fifth straight game.”

Travis Wakeman (10-3): “This is normally a spot I’d pick against the Chargers, but it’s hard to go against them right now. Momentum is a real thing in professional football and anyone who says it’s not doesn’t fully understand the game. Though they’re the road team, the Chargers are possibly the hottest team in the league right now. I don’t feel the Chiefs have the pieces in place to slow that down. Chargers 24, Chiefs 20.”