Chargers Vs. Chiefs NFL Player Props & Picks (10/22/23)

It’s always a treat when you get to see Justin Herbert and Patrick Mahomes duke it out, and we’re lucky enough to get to witness that twice a year. This is the first 2023 edition of that rivalry, so let’s get into some Chargers vs. Chiefs player props for Sunday’s game in Kansas City, where it’s not just about the quarterbacks; stars like Travis Kelce and Derwin James will also be in action.

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In one of the best quarterback matchups you could ask for in today’s league, let’s see who will have a big day and who will come up short

Justin Herbert Under 266.5 Passing Yards (-115 BetMGM)

I don’t like to be in the business of fading Justin Herbert, even in Arrowhead, where he’s put up some good performances in the past despite it being one of the toughest road environments in the NFL. Unfortunately, the stars are just not aligning for the Oregon product to have a big day this time out. Herbert is nursing a non-throwing hand injury, which shouldn’t inherently affect his ability to throw the ball, but the Chargers might err a bit on the side of caution and keep him out of harm’s way whenever possible.

They’ve actually been giving him slightly low volume this season, with or without the injury. Even as new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s system puts more of an emphasis on downfield passes, Herbert has been comfortably below this number in three of his five games so far, including most recently, 227 yards on 37 throws against the Cowboys.

It’s hard to imagine that trend reversing this week against the Chiefs, even if it’s going to be a shootout. Think back to opening week, when the Chargers played a high-scoring game against the Dolphins, in which Herbert threw for just 229 yards. That’s because they were able to gash Miami on the ground, and no, the Chiefs’ ground defense isn’t quite as bad, but the gap between their ability to stop runs and passes is pretty stark.

The Chiefs defense is 21st in DVOA, 23rd in success rate, and 29th in both EPA and adjusted line yards. Comparatively, when it comes to defending the pass, EPA has them third, DVOA sixth, and success rate second. That’s an absolutely enormous trend of which the Chargers will undoubtedly be aware. With Austin Ekeler officially back, it’s hard to imagine LA trying to force the pass too much against such a tough air defense when rushing lanes could be wide open.

Travis Kelce Over 72.5 Receiving Yards (-110)

This is, by a good margin, the worst receiving corps Patrick Mahomes has had at his disposal at any point in his Chiefs tenure. It’s been visible on his stat sheet, and was especially visible on opening night, as they suffered their only loss of the season to date, amidst a bevy of drops from KC wideouts. That game was, probably not coincidentally, the only one Travis Kelce has missed due to rehabbing an offseason injury.

Since then, Kelce has been back, if not always entirely in full force. That being said, he didn’t score in the Chiefs’ most recent game against the Broncos, but it still might have been his best performance of the year thus far as he reeled in nine catches for 124 yards. This performance comes a week after he grabbed 10 Mahomes throws against the Vikings, so his volume is pretty clearly ramping back up after catch four, seven, and six catches in his first three games of the year.

In a game where the Chargers have every ability to stick around and force the Chiefs to play legitimate offense all game long, Mahomes is going to have to throw the ball and this year, that almost always means a heaping dose of Kelce. Against a Chargers passing defense that ranks 30th in EPA, 25th in success rate, and 26th in pressure despite blitzing at about an average rate, Mahomes should have a field day. With few other options to turn to, that means Kelce will be in for a good performance as well, making this over a great value.

Derwin James o7.5 Tackles and Assists (-130 BetMGM)

This one goes right along with the last; in a game with lots of completions, the safety is often going to get a workout in terms of making plenty of tackles. That’s especially true in this matchup, given the trend we discussed above, the fact that Kelce is going to be the most common recipient of those completions.

James is as fitting of a Kelce-stopper as you’ll find anywhere in the league, as a safety with an excellent physical profile; stands 6’2” and 215 pounds with a 40” vertical and 4.47 second 40 yard dash. He’s uniquely suited to run with the legendary tight end, whose size and physicality make him a tough assignment of historical proportions. Last year, he had nine tackles at arrowhead, so it’s clearly a matchup where he gets some good usage.

He is also the fourth-highest graded qualifying run defender on the Chargers, as per PFF, so this over doesn’t solely rely on the air game, as James does a good job getting involved with run stopping as well. He’s also one of the team’s better tacklers, while going through a down-year in pass coverage, a perfect recipe for allowing a ball to be caught and then turning it into a tackle. This number is deflated James missed a game and then was less productive than usual in his return, but he should be ready to go now, and in for a big afternoon against the rival Chiefs.

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From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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