It has never been a secret that I'm not a huge fan of Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, and I'm not. I still say he's too mediocre to lead a team to a Super Bowl, but perhaps if the talent around him is good enough maybe he can win a title as a game manager like a Trent Dilfer or Brad Johnson.
It hasn't been the best offseason for these Chiefs. We learned in March that linebacker and 2014 sack king Justin Houston might miss all of 2016 with a torn ACL. He had surgery in mid-February and is certainly going to start the season on the PUP list. The Chiefs are confident he could play by November, but you never know with these injuries. A lot of people asked why it took so long to have the surgery. Houston originally injured his knee last year in a Nov. 29 game against the Bills. He didn't play again in the regular season but still led the Chiefs with 7.5 sacks. He did play in the postseason, but not much. Houston had arthroscopic surgery on Feb. 1 and the problem with his ACL was discovered then. The Chiefs also have star running back Jamaal Charles coming off an ACL tear, although at least his happened fairly early last season, so he should be good to go Week 1.
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Kansas City couldn't come to a long-term contract agreement with Pro Bowl safety and defensive heart-and-soul Eric Berry. The team had slapped the franchise tag on him. It's possible he holds out into the season, but I doubt that. He can hold out of camp and then sign the tender before the start of the regular season to earn the worth of the franchise tag in its entirety. The Chiefs can't negotiate a long-term deal with him now until after the season. In addition, Kansas City lost two draft picks for tampering with Jeremy Maclin before signing him as a free agent from Philadelphia last offseason. That cost the Chiefs a third-rounder in 2016 and a No. 6 next year. Some fines also were handed out. K.C. traded out of this year's first round. In free agency, the Chiefs lost very good cornerback Sean Smith, safety Tyvon Branch as well as a few offensive linemen but added offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz -- that group is still the No. 1 question mark -- and re-signed defensive players Jaye Howard, Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali. So all-in-all, I wouldn't say it was a winning offseason.
Kansas City was 6-2 at home last season (counting one win over Detroit in London), 3-5 against the spread and 3-5 "over/under." The Chiefs host just one 2015 playoff team -- that's the easiest schedule I've seen in that regard, home or away. They caught a break in that the two other AFC second-place finishers they play from last year both missed the postseason. I project a 6-2 home record. Kansas City has a wins total of 9.5, with the over a -130 favorite at BetOnline. I forecast a 10-6 mark. Overall, K.C.'s strength of schedule ranks as the 16th-toughest with an opponents' combined 2015 winning percentage of .496. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 11 vs. Chargers (-7, 43.5): Kansas City has won four straight in this series, two shy of the franchise record vs. the Bolts. Last year at home, it was 10-3 in Week 14, but it took a goal-line stand in the final seconds. Alex Smith's franchise-record streak of 312 straight pass attempts without a pick ended in the game, but he threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Albert Wilson in the second quarter for the game's only TD. Key trend: Chiefs 1-4 ATS in series as at least a 7-point home favorite.
Sept. 25 vs. Jets (-3.5): Kansas City off a trip to Houston in Week 2. New York I think will be 0-2 after hosting Cincinnati in Week 1 and visiting Buffalo on a Thursday in Week 2. The Chiefs ended a three-game losing streak in the series with a 24-10 home win on Nov. 2, 2014. Michael Vick was the Jets' QB that day. Key trend: Chiefs 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC East teams.
Oct. 23 vs. Saints (-8): K.C. enters off a trip to Oakland in Week 6. New Orleans is home to Carolina the previous Sunday. Chiefs won the last meeting 27-24 in overtime early in the 2012 season despite never once leading in regulation and only tying it in the final seconds. Key trend: Chiefs 4-5 ATS as an October home favorite of at least 8 points.
Nov. 6 vs. Jaguars (-7): Chiefs are in Indianapolis the previous Sunday. Jacksonville comes off a Thursday game in Tennessee in Week 8. Kansas City has won two straight in the series, last a fairly memorable (if you follow the Chiefs or Jags) 28-2 road victory to open the 2013 season. Key trend: Chiefs 3-7 ATS in past 10 at home vs. AFC South teams.
Nov. 20 vs. Buccaneers (-7): Kansas City travels to Carolina ahead of this game. Tampa Bay is home to Chicago in Week 10. This will be the Chiefs' first look at 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston of the Bucs. Kansas City has lost four straight in the series. Key trend: Chiefs 3-3 ATS at home vs. NFC South teams.
Dec. 8 vs. Raiders (-4.5): Thursday night game. Chiefs off a Week 13 trip to Atlanta. Oakland is home to Buffalo the previous Sunday. Kansas City closed last season with a 23-17 home win over the Raiders for a franchise-record 10th straight victory. Smith wasn't great, completing 14-for-24 for 156 yards with two TDs and two picks. The Chiefs entered that game with a shot at the AFC West title, but Denver didn't cooperate. Key trend: Chiefs 4-6 ATS in past 10 at home in series as at least a 4.5-point favorite.
Dec. 18 vs. Titans (-9): Tennessee is home to Denver the previous Sunday. This certainly looms as a potential trap game for the Chiefs in between home games against good divisional opponents. Kansas City gets its first look at 2015 No. 2 overall pick Marcus Mariota. The Chiefs lost the last meeting, 26-10 at home in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Smith was lousy in that one with three picks. Key trend: Chiefs 3-4 ATS as home favorite vs. Titans.
Dec. 25 vs. Broncos (-1.5): Sunday night game. Denver is off another big one at home vs. New England in Week 15. The Chiefs haven't beaten the Broncos at home since 2010. They should have last year in Week 2 in leading 24-17 with under a minute left but then allowed a 19-yard TD pass followed on the next play from scrimmage by a Charles fumble -- why are you running the ball there? -- that was returned 21 yards for the winning Denver score. Charles did have 125 yards rushing and a TD. Key trend: Chiefs have failed to cover five straight as home favorite in series.
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