If you told me I absolutely had to win some random regular-season game in the 2017 NFL campaign and I can choose my head coach, I'd go with New England's Bill Belichick. Everyone probably takes Belichick because he might already be the greatest coach in NFL history.
That said, what would Belichick do if he had Alex Smith as his quarterback all those years and not the GOAT, Tom Brady? Yeah, I think you could subtract those five Super Bowl rings. If you don't believe me, check out Belichick's record when he was coaching the Browns.
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I mention this because my second coaching choice to win a regular-season game might be Kansas City's Andy Reid - especially after a bye week. He never has the most talented clubs, but they are always prepared and usually play mistake-free football. Reid is 173-114-1 in his 18-year career. However, the playoffs always seem to expose Reid's teams for what they are: overachieving and simply not as talented.
Thanks to Oakland QB Derek Carr's late-season injury, the Chiefs backed into the AFC West title last year at 12-4 by winning their finale 37-27 in San Diego - the Chargers' final game there - and the Raiders losing their finale in Denver without Carr. That gave Kansas City the No. 2 seed in the playoffs behind the Patriots. It also meant a divisional-round home game vs. Pittsburgh. That's when the Chiefs and Smith were exposed.
The Steelers didn't reach the end zone on a cold day but still won 18-16. Kansas City was held to 227 total yards. When the Chiefs can't run the ball and lose the turnover battle (they had two giveaways to Pittsburgh's one), Smith simply isn't good enough to win a game by himself.The Chiefs have not won a home playoff game since 1994, losing five in a row. Reid is now 11-12 in his postseason career. This season will likely be the end of the Smith era after the Chiefs drafted Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes in the first round this year, but I'll touch more on that when looking at Kansas City's home slate.
Kansas City was 6-2 on the road last season (same as at home), 6-2 against the spread and 4-4 "over/under." The Chiefs travel to four playoff teams in 2017: New England, Houston, Oakland and Dallas. That's a rough schedule. On the bright side, only two of their final six are away from home. I project a 2-6 record. Also interesting: no road games in back-to-back weeks. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 7 at Patriots (-7, 49): Thursday night Kickoff Game. Kansas City last played New England in the divisional round following the 2015 season. The Patriots won 27-20, with Reid having some questionable clock management.The Chiefs are winless in their last five games at New England. Their last victory came in 1990 when the Patriots finished 1-15 and were coached by someone named Rod Rust. Key trend: Chiefs 2-8 SU & 5-5 ATS in past 10 as road dog of at least 7 points.
Sept. 24 at Chargers (+1.5): Chiefs are off Week 2 home opener vs. Reid's former Eagles team. This will be Kansas City's first look at the 30,000-seat StubHub Center, where the Bolts apparently will play until the new stadium they will share with the Rams is ready in 2020. The Chiefs face their longtime rivals in Los Angeles for the first time since 1960. K.C. won its final three in San Diego. Key trend: Chiefs 4-6 ATS in past 10 favored "at" Chargers.
Oct. 8 at Texans (-1): Short week for Chiefs off Monday night home game vs. Washington. Kansas City was 2-0 in Houston in the 2015 season, including playoffs, but lost there 19-12 in Week 2 last year. Kansas City had just 14 first downs and three turnovers. Key trend: Chiefs 5-2 ATS all-time in Houston, including playoffs.
Oct. 19 at Raiders (-3): Thursday night. K.C. hosts Pittsburgh the previous Sunday. The Chiefs' only loss to the Raiders in four seasons coached by Reid happened in a Thursday night game in Oakland in 2014. Last year, Kansas City won 26-10 at Oakland in Week 6, maybe its best game of the year. Spencer Ware ran for a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown. Smith completed 19 of 22 passes for 224 yards. Key trend: Chiefs 7-3 ATS in past 10 as dog at Raiders.
Nov. 5 at Cowboys (-6.5): Chiefs on a short week again here off a Monday night home game vs. Denver in Week 8. This is also before the team's bye week. Reid is 18-11 all-time against the Cowboys from his Eagles days. Key trend: Chiefs 5-5 ATS in past 10 before bye (any location).
Nov. 19 at Giants (-2): K.C. off its bye week - no coach is better after a bye week than Reid. This ends a stretch of five games out of six against a 2016 playoff team for the Chiefs. Kansas City is just 3-10 all-time in this series but won 31-7 at home in 2013. Key trend: Chiefs have won and covered three straight after a bye (any location).
Dec. 3 at Jets (+4.5): Kansas City hosts Buffalo the previous Sunday. Second game in three weeks at MetLife Stadium for the Chiefs. This would be one of two road wins I project. K.C. beat the visiting Jets 24-3 in Week 3 last year. The Chiefs forced a whopping eight turnovers and returned two for touchdowns. Key trend: Chiefs 6-4 ATS in past 10 as road favorite of at least 4 points.
Dec. 31 at Broncos (TBA): Per usual, no Week 17 lines with too many intangibles. K.C. off three straight home games, concluding on Christmas Eve vs. Miami. The Chiefs won one of the best games of 2016 in Denver, 30-27 in OT in Week 12. Cairo Santos' 34-yard field goal hit the left upright and bounced through as the overtime period expired. Rookie Tyreek Hill was spectacular in scoring a TD on a reception, a rush and a return, something no one had done since Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965.Key trend: Chiefs have covered their past three in Denver.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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