ESPN Monday Night NFL Picks: San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs and Predictions Week 8 – Free NFL Picks 10/31/11

Monday Night NFL Picks: San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs Monday Night NFL Week 8 Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 10/31/11: Two of the contenders for the AFC West crown will go head to head Monday night when the San Diego Chargers (4-2) visit the Kansas City Chiefs (3-3). The teams are heading in opposite directions entering the meeting, with the Chargers coming odd a second half collapse against the New York Jets and the Chiefs riding a three-game winning streak. As a result, the top spot in the division will be on the line Monday night. Despite playing at home, the Chiefs are three-point underdogs.

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Kansas City deserves a lot of credit for even being back in contention for the division title. With a sputtering offense, the Chiefs could have folded when star running back Jamaal Charles went down for the year with a knee injury. Instead, Kansas City has refocused its offensive philosophy, turning to quarterback Matt Cassel to lead the team. He has five touchdowns compared to just two interceptions during the team’s three-game winning streak.

That being said, he could find it tough to continue his recent run of success. The San Diego secondary has been stout all season, giving up less than 180 yards per game during this year. The Chargers rank third in the NFL in that category. The silver lining for Cassel and the Chiefs’ passing attack is that San Diego has allowed 10 touchdown passes through the air. Despite limiting yardage as well as any team in football, the Chargers have been vulnerable on the scoreboard, and that is all that counts in the end. Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe could be particularly effective in the red zone because of his size.

Of course, San Diego can put points on the board as well. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been piling up yards all season, although he has been more turnover prone than in past years. He should have plenty of opportunities to make big plays Monday night against a Kansas City secondary that has surrendered the third-most passing touchdowns in the NFL. Not to mention the fact that the Chiefs don’t pressure the QB either, averaging just a single sack per game. Rivers should have plenty of time to pick apart the Kansas City defense, which could mean big games for both receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Antonio Gates.

The X-factor in the game could be the running backs for either side. Ryan Matthews will be the full-time back for the Chargers because of an injury to Mike Tolbert, and his versatility could give the Chiefs’ problems. Matthews is one of the better backs in the league at catching the ball out of the backfield, which will put even more stress on the Kansas City secondary. Meanwhile, the Chiefs use a running back by committee approach with veteran Thomas Jones and newcomer Jackie Battle carrying the ball between the tackles and the speedy Dexter McCluster serving as the third-down back. The depth at the position has allowed the Chiefs to wear down opponents as the game wears on, which could be a problem for the Chargers considering their poor performance in the second half last weekend.

In the end, momentum could play a huge role. Rivers and the Chargers have both been shaky lately in the second half of games, while the Chiefs have been firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball. On paper, San Diego has the more talented roster, but Kansas City is the hotter team. Throw in one of the best home field advantages in the NFL, and bettors have to like backing an underdog at home that has won three straight.

Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs (+3) Cover the Spread

Free NFL Football Picks and Predictions: Kansas City +3

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Week 8 NFL Football: San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs
Date: 10/31/011
Time: 8:35 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds Favorite: San Diego -3Total: Over/Under 44.5

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