NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
Welcome to my first game prediction of the new season. I'll be here to look at every Thursday night game each week along with a marquee Sunday matchup and the Monday nighter (picking one of the two in Week 1).
It should be quite an atmosphere at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro this Thursday as the Patriots unveil their fifth Super Bowl banner - certainly the most unlikely one in terms of how badly they were getting stomped in the big game before staging that epic comeback. Just think about how Tom Brady's reputation would look differently today if the Falcons had won by 25 points as they were doing late in the third quarter. I don't think we are calling Brady the best quarterback ever with three Super Bowl losses on his resume. Shoot, maybe he's not even a member of the Patriots today.
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Yet somehow, the Patriots did win and they pretty much brought the band together while also adding some very interesting pieces like former Saints receiver Brandin Cooks, free agent running backs Mike Gillislee (Bills) and Rex Burkhead (Bengals), and cornerback Stephon Gilmore (Bills), among others. Yes, the season-ending knee injury suffered by No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman will hurt a bit. He's clearly Brady's security blanket and was targeted 158 times by the New England QBs (nearly more than double anyone else) and had 98 catches for 1,106 yards and three scores. He also had a crucial catch in the Super Bowl comeback. Bill Belichick made an interesting trade in the wake of that injury last week, sending third-string QB Jacoby Brissett to Indianapolis for former first-round WR Phillip Dorsett. Typical New England deal: sell its asset at its highest value (Brissett had an incredible preseason finale) and get a more talented player at his lowest. Why do I think this works out in spades for Belichick?
As for the Chiefs, the most interesting thing they did this offseason, in my mind, was surprisingly trade up in the first round of this year's draft to take Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes. He looked really good at times this preseason, but the Chiefs truly don't want the rookie on the field in 2017. They believe they can contend for a Super Bowl with game manager Alex Smith. Not sure I agree there, but this probably will be Smith's final season in red.
Chiefs at Patriots Betting Story Lines
On paper, I do think these Patriots are better than last year's team, but that doesn't mean I think they will go 16-0 or repeat - Brady will start showing his age eventually even if he is a cyborg. Bookmaker had an interesting prop asking when the Pats will lose their first game this season: Kansas City was the +360 favorite. I think it will either come Week 2 in New Orleans (+600) or Week 5 in Tampa (+450). To go 19-0, the Patriots were getting +2500.
Commissioner Roger Goodell already has said he would be on hand at Gillette Stadium for the Kickoff Game. That won't go well for him in terms of crowd support. Goodell hasn't been to a Patriots home regular-season game since Deflategate all started (he was there for the 2017 preseason opener vs. Jacksonville). In last season's playoffs, Goodell attended back-to-back playoff games in Atlanta instead of going to Gillette Stadium. He was booed heavily at the Lombardi Trophy presentation after the Super Bowl win in Houston.
Kansas City didn't avoid the injury bug this preseason, either, in losing leading rusher Spencer Ware to a season-ending injury. He rushed for 921 yards and three scores and caught 33 balls for 447 yards and two TDs in 2016. Good player, but the Chiefs seem fine there with Charcandrick West, who led the team in rushing two years ago, and emerging third-round rookie Kareem Hunt, who will start Thursday. The team also re-signed veteran C.J. Spiller. Defensively, Kansas City won't have starting cornerback Steve Nelson for at least half the season following core muscle surgery. Either Phillip Gaines or Terrance Mitchell wake take his spot. Linebacker Tamba Hali will miss at least the first six games as he was left on the physically unable to perform list.
New England last played Kansas City in the divisional round following the 2015 season. The Patriots won 27-20. Brady threw for two scores and rushed for one. K.C. cut it to a seven-point deficit on a West one-yard TD run with 1:13 to go but couldn't recover the onside kick.
Chiefs at Patriots Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New England is a 9.5-point favorite (+100) with a total of 48. On the moneyline, the Pats are -370 and the Chiefs +310. On the alternate lines, New England is -8.5 (-110) and -8 (-115). Kansas City was 9-7-1 against the spread last season including playoffs (6-2 on road) and 6-11 "over/under" (4-4 on road). The Patriots were an NFL-record-tying 16-3 against the spread in 2016 including playoffs (8-2 at home) and 9-10 "over/under" (6-4 at home).
The Chiefs are 1-4 ATS in their past five September games. The Pats are 5-0 ATS in their past five in the month. The over is 6-2 in Kansas City's previous eight in September. The under is 4-1 in New England's past five on Thursday. The Chiefs are 1-4 ATS in their past five in New England.
Chiefs at Patriots Betting Prediction
The Patriots are 8-0 when playing the season opener at home this century and have won their past six at home in this series. I'm sure you know by now that the defending Super Bowl champion usually dominates in these Kickoff Games with only two losses - never on a Thursday or at home. (NY Giants lost at home to Dallas on a Wednesday and Baltimore lost in Denver because the Ravens couldn't play at home due to the Orioles.)
The Patriots are 4-0 all-time in season openers after winning the Super Bowl, including a 30-14 Monday Night Football win vs. Pittsburgh on Sept. 9, 2002, the first regular-season game at Gillette Stadium. Just like you shouldn't bet against Nick Saban in season openers, I wouldn't bet against New England, at least on the moneyline. It will win, but 9.5 points seems a few too many - the Chiefs only have five losses by more than 10 points under Reid. I'll take the points. Go "under" the total.
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