Kansas City Chiefs Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Betting Futures
by Alan Matthews - 6/27/2014
Has there ever been a more fraudulent 9-0 team in NFL history than the 2013 Kansas City Chiefs? Indeed, Kansas City was the last team to lose last season, thanks to a conservative offense that asked new quarterback Alex Smith simply to manage the game, not make mistakes and get the ball as often as possible to star running back Jamaal Charles. The defense was also excellent the first half of the season, led by pass-rushing outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Andy Reid looked like the lock NFL Coach of the Year.
Then it all fell apart. You can't really blame the offense. Smith continued to play pretty well, and so did Charles. Some key injuries hit the defense, namely Houston, who had been in the conversation for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. The Chiefs went into Week 11 off a bye and very confident at 9-0 but were beaten 27-17 at Denver to start a three-game skid in which the defense allowed a total of 103 points. Kansas City turned things around in Weeks 14-15 when the offense exploded for 45 and 56 points in routs of Washington and Oakland, but that was fool's gold as those were two terrible teams. Kansas City closed the season losing to the Colts and the Chargers, the latter a game that didn't matter but allowed San Diego to reach the playoffs.
The Chiefs were actually 1.5-point favorites for their wild-card game at Indianapolis, and that looked like a lock win when Kansas City took a 38-10 lead early in the third quarter despite losing Charles to injury on the team's first offensive drive. However, then the defense couldn't stop Andrew Luck and he led the second-biggest comeback win in NFL history, 45-44. It was a devastating end to a once-promising season, and suddenly there were many questions about the Chiefs going forward.
Reid had some very exciting offenses in Philadelphia, but he simply doesn't have the skill position talent with the Chiefs outside of the excellent Charles. Smith is a solid QB but nothing more. He completed 60.6 percent of his passes for 3,313 yards, 23 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 2013 and was stellar in the playoff loss. The Chiefs would likely take those regular-season numbers again. The problem is that he never throws downfield, partly because that's not Smith's strength but also the Chiefs don't really have any deep threats. It's hard to stretch defenses dinking-and-dunking all day.
With all due respect to Adrian Peterson, Charles might be the best all-around back in the NFL, and he's still just 27 so should have a few more great seasons. He rushed for 1,287 yards (5.0 ypc) and caught a team high-70 passes for 693 yards and seven scores. Your running back, as good as he is, should not be leading the team in receiving. Kansas City has two average starting receivers in Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery and a mostly non-factor in the passing game at tight end in Anthony Fasano. I was stunned the team didn't take a receiver in the draft. The Chiefs did grab Oregon running back De'Anthony Thomas in the fourth round, and he could fill the role of the departed Dexter McCluster, The offensive line was good last season but lost left tackle Branden Albert and fellow linemen Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah. The Chiefs better hope that 2013 No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher is ready to protect Smith's left side. He was very inconsistent last year at right tackle, missed a few games due to injury and had offseason surgery to repair his left shoulder and a sports hernia.
As noted, the defense was quite good last year before Houston (11.0 sacks) went down with an injury. Hali (11.0 sacks) also missed a game. The linebackers are the strength of this unit. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton says there won't be any big changes to the scheme despite the late fade, simply hoping that health is enough. In addition, the club believes 2014 first-round pick Dee Ford, a defensive end from Auburn, will contribute to that pass rush right away. He's going to move to outside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. The Chiefs did bid goodbye to four key defensive contributors: safety Kendrick Lewis, Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers, linebacker Akeem Jordan and underachieving end Tyson Jackson. The Kansas City secondary was torched in the playoffs and remains a question mark outside of safety Eric Berry.
2014 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule Analysis
The Chiefs have the seventh-toughest schedule in the NFL as their opponents went a combined 143-133 last season, a winning percentage of .559. The good news: It's still the easiest schedule among the AFC West clubs. Kansas City's home slate (.570) looks a bit trickier than the road (.547). The Chiefs are 6-point home favorites for Week 1 against Tennessee. The Chiefs won in Nashville in Week 5 last year, 26-17. K.C. led 13-0 at the half before falling behind 17-13 early in the fourth. Charles scored on a 1-yard run with 6:23 to take the lead for good and Ryan Succop added two field goals. Smith was 20-of-39 for 245 yards and a pick. Charles rushed 22 times for 108 yards. K.C. was just 1-for-12 on third down.
The first five games before the Week 6 bye will determine everything, because that stretch is extremely tough. The Chiefs should beat the Titans but then I don't see them winning any of the next four: at Denver, at Miami (maybe that one), vs. New England and at San Francisco. Teams don't make the playoffs starting 1-4, so K.C. better win two of the five. Things get slightly easier post-bye. The Chiefs don't have back-to-back road games, which is nice. If K.C. can get to 3-3 with a Week 7 win in San Diego, then a wild-card spot is doable. Three of the next four are at home: Rams, Jets and Seahawks, and the road game is winnable in Buffalo. The season also ends with three not terrible games: vs. Raiders, at Steelers, vs. Chargers. I can't find more than a three-game winning streak, maximum, on this schedule, but can potentially see a four- or five-game skid on there.
2014 Kansas City Chiefs Odds to Win the Super Bowl and Futures Odds
Odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag . The Chiefs are +5000 to win the Super Bowl, +2000 to win the AFC championship and +650 to take the AFC West. Their wins total is 8.5, with the "under" a -145 favorite. Kansas City is +280 to make the playoffs and -360 to miss. Smith is +10000 to win NFL MVP and so is Charles. Smith is +25000 to lead the NFL in passing yards, Charles is +1800 to win the rushing title and Bowe is +9000 to top the league in receiving yards. Ford is +1500 to win Defensive Rookie of the Year.
2014 Kansas City Chiefs Picks and Predictions
Clearly oddsmakers are expecting a huge step back for this team with the "under" 8.5 wins favored. I tend to agree. It's hard in the modern-day NFL to play so conservatively on offense and win. It obviously worked for the first half of last season for the Chiefs, but at some point you have to stretch the defense. And if Charles is hurt? Yikes.
I expect this to be one of the lower-scoring offenses in the NFL even though Charles is one of the league's top backs. Defenses are well aware of this and will dare Smith to beat them. He doesn't have any receivers to do that. I don't recommend any individual props because I think Charles will be so keyed on even though he's a stud. Go "under" the 8.5 wins. This team finishes 7-9 and perhaps moves on from Smith next season. He can become a free agent after this year, and K.C. drafted Georgia's Aaron Murray.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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