I was dead wrong on the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs.
Sure, I thought the Chiefs were a borderline wild-card contender entering the season because they had what looked to be a very good defense and one of the NFL's best all-around running backs in Jamaal Charles. I definitely wasn't a fan of quarterback Alex Smith or the team's receiving corps, even after adding former Philadelphia Eagle Jeremy Maclin in free agency.
Then Charles, probably the most important running back to his offense in the NFL outside of maybe Adrian Peterson to the Vikings, went down with a season-ending injury in an 18-17 home loss to Chicago -- a game the Chiefs blew -- in Week 5. Kansas City was 1-4. Then it lost the next week 16-10 at Peterson's Vikings to drop to 1-5. I said the Chiefs' season was over. Go ahead and start planning for 2017 and maybe evaluate the future of head coach Andy Reid.
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So naturally the unthinkable happened: the Chiefs didn't lose another regular-season game. The defense was absolutely dominant in that 10-game winning streak -- Kansas City allowed more than 17 points just twice; only once during the 10 games was the team's margin of victory fewer than seven points -- and Smith was not so much great statistically but he wasn't turning the ball over, which is all that Reid asks. Kansas City found two pretty darn good running backs to replace Charles in Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware.
Kansas City went to AFC South champion Houston in the wild-card round and destroyed the Texans, making QB Brian Hoyer look silly. However, the Chiefs' shortcomings were exposed in a 27-20 loss in New England in the divisional round. Reid had some really questionable clock management in that one. But then he's known for that.
The Chiefs were 5-3 on the road last season, 5-3 against the spread and 5-2-1 "over/under." They face four teams away in 2016 that made the playoffs last year. The road schedule is harder than the home slate. If the Chiefs can go 4-4 away from home, which I believe is what happens, they could be in good shape to win the AFC West. Kansas City has a season wins total of 9.5 at BetOnline with the over a -135 favorite. Odds listed below for the home team.
Sept. 18 at Texans (pick'em): Kansas City should be 1-0 after beating visiting San Diego in Week 1. Houston also should be 1-0, coming off a home game vs. Chicago. The Chiefs won in Houston 27-20 to open last season behind three first-half touchdown passes from Smith. The wild-card game there was a Kansas City 30-0 rout. The Chiefs' Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards and K.C. never looked back in winning its first playoff game since 1994. The defense forced five Hoyer turnovers. Key trend: Chiefs haven't had a road pick'em game since 2000; they are 0-3 in them all-time.
Oct. 2 at Steelers (-4): Sunday night game. K.C. is off a Week 3 home game vs. the Jets and this is ahead of the Chiefs' bye week. Pittsburgh is off a trip to Philadelphia. Kansas City started its 10-game regular-season winning streak in Week 7 last year with a 23-13 home win over the Steelers. Smith threw for 251 yards, while West added 110 yards rushing and his first career TD. The Chiefs got to face Steelers third-string QB Landry Jones, an obviously huge break. Key trend: Chiefs have lost five straight as a dog in Pittsburgh (1-4 ATS).
Oct. 16 at Raiders (pick'em): Kansas City is off its bye. Oakland comes off a Week 5 home game vs. San Diego. The Chiefs won 34-20 in Oakland in Week 13 last year. They picked off Derek Carr three times in the fourth quarter. Kansas City was down 20-14 entering the fourth. The last pick by Tyvon Branch was returned 38 yards for a score with 3:14 left. Key trend: Chiefs 5-5 ATS in past 10 after a bye (any location).
Oct. 30 at Colts (-1): K.C. hosts New Orleans the previous Sunday. Indianapolis is in Tennessee in Week 7. The last time the Chiefs were in Indy it was for a wild-card game following the 2013 season and the Chiefs managed to gag away a 38-10 third-quarter lead in a 45-44 loss. Key trend: Chiefs 8-2 ATS in past 10 at AFC South teams.
Nov. 13 at Panthers (-4.5): Chiefs host the Jaguars in Week 9. Carolina is in Los Angeles the previous Sunday. For what it's worth, against teams that won the NFC the previous season the Chiefs have won the past two and three of the past four. Those were all at Arrowhead, however. Key trend: Chiefs 4-6 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of at least 4.5 points vs. any opponent.
Nov. 27 at Broncos (-3): Kansas City off a Week 11 home game vs. Tampa Bay. Denver is off its bye week. The Chiefs broke a three-game losing streak on the road against the Broncos last year with a 29-13 Week 10 win. They picked off Peyton Manning four times and held Denver to 221 total yards. The Chiefs haven't won in back-to-back seasons in Denver since 1999 and 2000. Key trend: Chiefs 5-5 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of at least 3 points in series.
Dec. 4 at Falcons (pick'em): This is the only time the Chiefs will play back-to-back road games, which is fairly rare to have just one set of consecutive away games. Atlanta is off a home game vs. Arizona the previous Sunday. The last seven games between these teams have been decided by double digits, but they only play every four years. Key trend: Chiefs 1-5 ATS all-time at NFC South teams.
Jan. 1 at Chargers (TBA): Again, no Week 17 lines with too much potentially up in the air on the final Sunday. Kansas City comes off a probable huge Week 16 home game on Sunday night vs. Denver. This could be the Chiefs' final visit ever to San Diego if the Chargers don't get a stadium and move to L.A. next year. The Bolts are off a trip to Cleveland. Kansas City won in San Diego in Week 11 last year, 33-3. The Chiefs had two defensive touchdowns and Ware rushed for two. Key trend: Chiefs 4-6 ATS in past 10 as road favorite in series (I think they will be if game matters).
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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