Can KC Chiefs backups put away the Chargers? Expert predictions for Week 18

Week 18 is here. Time for the tune up.

Harry How/GettyImages

This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers will play their last game of the regular season. For the Chargers, it's actually the season finale. For both teams, the backup quarterback will be in charge, but the Chiefs' situation is certainly better than that of the Bolts.

The Chiefs have already secured their spot in the playoffs by winning the AFC West for the eighth straight year. Who will and won't play for Kansas City on Sunday is the bigger story than their playoff seeding.

With Patrick Mahomes certainly sitting out Sunday's matchup, questions swirl about the other Chiefs' status. Will Travis Kelce chase for another 1,000-yard season? Will Chris Jones play, seeking to reach 10 sacks on the season? As for the Chargers, their playoff hopes have already been dashed, making their situation far less significant. The focus for them will likely be on evaluating their roster and limping into the offseason.

The Kansas City Chiefs cap off a tumultuous regular season against an AFC West rival.

The Chiefs enter SoFi Stadium this week as 3.5-point underdogs, according to DraftKings. How do our writers feel this matchup will go? Let's hear from them ahead of the season finale.

Tyler Brown
Even without Patrick Mahomes and some key starters, the Chiefs have more heart than the Chargers do right now. I would not describe Easton Stick as better than Blaine Gabbert either. Keenan Allen has not been playing the past few weeks, and the Chargers defense is one of the five worst in football. The youngsters in Kansas City are going to come out inspired and I think the old soul in Andy Reid loves winning games with a bunch of backups and will call the best game that he can. I have Deneric Prince leading the Chiefs in rushing and Noah Gray in receiving en route to a victory over the Chargers.
Chiefs 23, Chargers 17

Price Carter
It’s hard to tell with a glorified 4th pre-season game taking place in Los Angeles what the outcome will be. There’s not much for the Chargers or the Chargers staff to be fighting for but the Chiefs are going to be playing lots of backups. Easton Stick has been rough so maybe he struggles to move the ball and gives the Chiefs just enough to win. Looking forward to Justyn Ross’ 150-yard game and FAU's 6 sacks.
Chiefs 19, Chargers 13

Matt Conner
This should be fun to see more of the faces we've wanted to see throughout the season but haven't. I also like the fact that Blaine Gabbert can kick off some of the rust before the Chiefs might need him when it counts. Call me a believer in Felix Anudike-Uzomah silencing some doubters by contributing to a strong defensive performance on Sunday.
Chiefs 17, Chargers 9

Ellen Mathis
This game means nothing to the Chiefs and probably also means nothing to the Chargers. The Chargers would rather lose because it gives them a better draft pick so I foresee a sloppy, low-scoring game that ends in a Chiefs victory.
Chiefs 17, Chargers 13.

Greg Florkowski
In Week 18, the Chiefs will be sitting many of their starters in preparation for the postseason. This week, look for Blaine Gabbert to feed tight end Travis Kelce early so he can record his eighth straight 1000-yard season. After this record is in hand, look for Kelce to sit for the rest of the game. The Chiefs are still the better team against a backup quarterback in Easton Stick.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 20

Jacob Milham
I would like to think that the Chiefs win this, with backups proving they want it more over a despondent Chargers team. However, I am not sure the coaching staff will reflect that. Kansas City has nothing to gain with a win here, at least hosting a Wild Card game in Arrowhead. Most starters should not be playing the complete game in preparation for said game. Couple that with a likely conservative game plan, and the Chargers end the season with a win.
Chargers 21, Chiefs 13

Lucas Strozinsky
I'm not exactly rooting for a specific outcome in this matchup, more so for the young kids playing well. A Chiefs loss/Chargers win would give LA a worse draft position. Ideally, the Chiefs fall short, but young players like Justyn Ross and Felix Anudike-Uzomah look great.
Chiefs 16, Chargers 14

Grant Tuttle
Give me Blaine Gabbert driving the length of the field to set up a field goal for the win. The Chargers have less to play for than the Chiefs’ second-stringers.
Chiefs 24, Chargers 21