ESPN senior writer Mike Sando asks NFL insiders to pick winners in select games each week. Three evaluators joined the panel for Week 15. This week's games: Chargers-Chiefs, Eagles-Rams, Packers-Bears, Cowboys-Colts and Patriots-Steelers.
Thursday: 8:20 p.m. ET, Fox | Point spread: KC by 3.5 | Insiders pick: KC (2/3)
Two of three insiders picked the Chiefs, but all three had some concerns. They thought Kareem Hunt's absence threatened to make Kansas City a little too one-dimensional. They worried about Tyreek Hill's injury. And there was some thought that the Chiefs had reached the point in the season when opponents tend to start figuring out the different offensive wrinkles that Andy Reid brings into each season.
"I'm going to buck the trend and go with the Chargers," one of the insiders said. "I think the Chiefs have not been the same without that running back. With 10 [Hill] a little banged up, they could be less explosive. And then the Chargers will be able to play a physical brand of football on offense, and the Chiefs do not have enough on defense to stop them."
Hunt's replacement, Spencer Ware, is doubtful for this game. Hill is expected to play despite being listed as questionable. Chargers running back Melvin Gordon also is questionable. The short week is not helping any of them be at their best.
"If I knew Gordon was playing, that would help," another insider said. "My thing on the Chargers is, if they get down against Kansas City, that right tackle [Sam Tevi] does not pass-protect well enough. That is against Justin Houston, too. But if Tyreek Hill is really limited or does not play, that would maybe flip it."
The Chargers have lost nine straight in the series.
"It was interesting seeing the Chargers struggling to put away the Bengals last week," the third insider said. "I'll take the home team on Thursday night. I would not be surprised if the Chargers won, especially with the Chiefs putting so much into that Baltimore game. I think the Chiefs could use a little more balance or it won't be sustainable for [Patrick] Mahomes long term."