Chiefs at Chargers

Published on Oct. 31, 2012, at 5:25 p.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

When the NFL created its Thursday night schedule, it hoped to avoid matchups between teams with nine combined losses in a row. Nevertheless, that’s what we have this week when San Diego takes on Kansas City in Southern California.

Fortunately for the Chargers, they play in the AFC West and are only one game behind division-leading Denver. But Norv Turner’s team has dropped three straight and the head coach and General Manager A.J. Smith are on boiling hot seats.

As of Wednesday afternoon, most books were listing the Chargers as eight-point favorites with a total of 42 ½. Gamblers can take the Chiefs on the money line for a plus-290 return (risk $100 to win $290). Then late this morning, the total dipped down to 41 1/2.

Just a few weeks ago, San Diego (3-4 straight up, 3-4 against the spread) went to halftime with a 24-0 lead over Denver and appeared poised to take a two-game lead in the loop.

However, Peyton Manning and the Broncos erupted in the second half and rallied to capture a 35-24 win as one-point road underdogs. San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers threw four interceptions, including one pick-six, and also coughed up a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

After the Bolts had an open date to stew over allowing the fourth-greatest comeback in NFL regular-season history, they responded with a lethargic effort, losing 7-6 at Cleveland as three-point road ‘chalk.’

Robert Meachem dropped what would’ve been a 51-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter. San Diego could muster just a pair of field goals and it hasn’t been in the end zone in six straight quarters.

Rivers completed 18-of-34 passes for 154 yards. Reserve running back Ronnie Brown was his favorite target, hauling in seven receptions for 85 yards. Ryan Mathews rushed for 95 yards on 24 carries.

For the season, Rivers has connected on 64.6 of his throws for 1,646 yards but has a mediocre 10/9 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Malcolm Floyd leads the team in receiving with 29 catches for 461 yards and one TD. Perennial Pro-Bowl tight end Antonio Gates has 21 receptions for 238 yards and a pair of scores.

San Diego has been a high-octane offense for many years, but this year it is 25th in the NFL in total offense. The Bolts are averaging only 22 points per game.

San Diego is ranked 10th in the NFL in scoring defense, surrendering only 20.6 PPG.

Kansas City (1-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) has lost four in a row, including last week’s 26-16 loss to Oakland as a one-point home favorite. Veteran QB Brady Quinn sustained a concussion in the first half and was relieved by former starter Matt Cassel.

The Raiders took a two-TD lead midway through the third quarter and cruised to the easy win. Cassel hit Dexter McCluster for a 10-yard scoring strike at garbage time to make the final score look more respectable. The 42 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 42 ½-point total.

Cassel completed 20-of-30 passes for 218 yards with one TD, one interception and one lost fumble. Javier Arenas also coughed up a fumble on a punt return.

Cassel had been benched in favor of Quinn, who was making his second start. The Notre Dame product, who is ‘doubtful’ this week, was ineffective in a 38-10 loss at Tampa Bay.

Cassel also suffered a concussion back in Week 5 during a 9-6 home loss to Baltimore. He has a 6/10 TD-INT ratio.

KC running back Jamaal Charles has rushed for a team-high 595 yards and two touchdowns, but he was given a season-low five carries last week against the Raiders. Charles is averaging 5.0 yards per carry.

Dwayne Bowe is the Chiefs’ best down-the-field threat. The former star at LSU has made 37 catches for 492 yards and three TDs.

Kansas City starting defensive lineman Glenn Dorsey has missed four straight games and he’s listed as ‘questionable’ this week.

For the Chargers, WR Vincent Brown remains ‘out’ and WR Eddie Royal is ‘questionable.’

The ‘over’ is 4-3 overall for San Diego, 2-1 in its home games. The ‘over’ is also 4-3 overall for KC, 2-1 in its road assignments.

The NFL Network will have the telecast at 8:25 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

–Once again, the highest total of the week involves the Saints. They have a 52 ½-point tally for their home game vs. the Eagles on Monday Night Football. As of Wednesday, New Orleans was favored by three (with juice) or 3 ½. After a few days of uncertainty, Andy Reid announced Wednesday that he was sticking with Michael Vick as his starting QB.

–Philadelphia has an NFL-worst 1-5-1 spread record.

–The NFL’s top ATS marks belong to the Falcons, Bucs and Texans, all of whom are 5-2 versus the number.

–The ‘under’ is an NFL-best 7-1 in Arizona games this year.

–The ‘over’ is an NFL-best 6-2 in New England games. After a pair of ‘unders’ to start the season, the ‘over’ has hit in six straight for the Patriots. They have an open date this week.

–Atlanta will take on Dallas in Sunday’s prime-time affair as a four-point ‘chalk.’ The unbeaten Falcons are 18-9-1 ATS as home favorites during Mike Smith’s five-year tenure.

–After throwing only 13 interceptions as a rookie, Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton has already been intercepted 10 times this year. That’s one of the main reasons why the Bengals have lost three in a row going into Sunday’s game vs. Denver. On Wednesday, Cincy head coach Marvin Lewis called out Dalton and LB Rey Maualuga to show more leadership. The Broncos are four-point road favorites.

–In response to rumors this week that the Jags might inquire about the services of Tim Tebow in a trade with the Jets before the deadline, Blaine Gabbert told the media, “I think we’re pretty satisfied here at QB.”

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