Thurs­day matchup a wor­thy fi­nale

Charg­ers, Chiefs meet in crit­i­cal AFC West con­test

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - BARRY WILNER

For those fans who dis­like Thurs­day-night foot­ball, re­joice that this week is the fi­nal game of the sea­son on such short rest.

Also re­joice that it’s one of the best matchups of the year, with hefty im­pli­ca­tions in the stand­ings, as Kansas City plays host to the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers.

Even with a loss, the Chiefs keep the top spot in the AFC West with a bet­ter divi­sion record, as the teams will have split their se­ries. A win for Kansas City (11-2) could se­cure the top seed in the con­fer­ence, though, de­pend­ing on what hap­pens to the Pa­tri­ots and Texans.

The Charg­ers (10-3), who lost to K.C. 38-28 in the sea­son opener, will own a post-sea­son berth with a vic­tory. They also can get in with a loss and help else­where.

Los An­ge­les is a 3½-point un­der­dog. We think, right now, the Charg­ers are the more balanced team, though win­ning on the road on Thurs­day nights is dif­fi­cult, es­pe­cially if your top two run­ning backs are out. That could be the case with Melvin Gor­don (knee) and Austin Ekeler (neck, con­cus­sion pro­to­col) both un­cer­tain. Chiefs, 30-29 Green Bay (+5½) at Chicago

Nor­mally, a let­down for the Bears could be ex­pected. Not against the Pack­ers, though.

Best bet: Bears, 23-16

Dal­las (+3) at In­di­anapo­lis

We rec­og­nize this could be a sucker bet. OK, we’re suckers. Upset spe­cial: Cow­boys, 20-17 New Eng­land (-1½) at Pitts­burgh

Steel­ers about to blow divi­sion and maybe even a wild-card spot. Pa­tri­ots, 39-32

Tampa Bay (+8) at Bal­ti­more

Ravens about to surge to AFC North ti­tle. Ravens, 26-20 New Or­leans (-6½) at Carolina, Mon­day night

Saints need to stay ahead of Rams for NFC home-field edge. Saints, 33-20

Philadel­phia (+9½) at L.A. Rams

Ea­gles play hard while un­der­manned, just don’t win enough. Rams, 37-24

Seat­tle (-5½) at San Fran­cisco

Sea­hawks have that NFC wild­card berth in sight. Sea­hawks, 17-13 Hous­ton (-6) at N.Y. Jets, Satur­day

Texans get back on track in New Jer­sey. Texans, 28-13

Ten­nessee (+2½) at Gi­ants

Ti­tans keep it go­ing in New Jer­sey? Well, no. Gi­ants, 30-19 Cleve­land (+3) at Den­ver, Satur­day

Browns on right track, Bron­cos too banged up. Browns, 27-23 Mi­ami (+7) at Min­nesota

No “Drake Es­cape” or “Mi­ami Mir­a­cle” this week. Vik­ings, 22-20 Ari­zona (+8½) at At­lanta

Car­di­nals even more con­found­ing than Fal­cons. Fal­cons, 30-20 Detroit (+2½) at Buf­falo

Two more con­found­ing al­so­rans. Bills, 23-17

Oak­land (+3) at Cincin­nati

Bengals have lost their way. They’ll find it for a week. Bengals, 21-20

Wash­ing­ton (+7) at Jack­sonville

Will Red­skins show up this week? Will Jags? Jaguars, 20-10

2018 RECORD

Last week: Against spread, 8-8; straight up, 9-7

Sea­son to­tals: Against spread, 10393-7; straight up, 136-70-2

Best bet: 4-10 against spread, 9-5 straight up

Upset spe­cial: 8-6 against spread, 7-6-1 straight up

Austin Ekeler

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