The Kansas City Chiefs don’t need any more validation.
They have road wins over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Charges and Denver Broncos. The first two were considered preseason contenders to win the AFC and the Broncos are tough to beat at home. Last week the Chiefs handled the Jacksonville Jaguars, who were in the AFC championship game last season. Also credit them for a win over the San Francisco 49ers; quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo played most of that game before tearing his ACL late.
There’s nothing flimsy about the Chiefs’ 5-0 start. They have quality wins, road wins, come-from-behind wins and blowout wins. They’re legit.
And still, everyone knows the New England Patriots are still the standard bearer in the AFC.
A loss to the Patriots on Sunday night wouldn’t change much when it comes to the perception of Kansas City, but a win would put the Chiefs far ahead as the favorite in the AFC. They’d have head-to-head wins, and therefore tiebreaker advantage, over many of the teams that could be chasing them for seeding. And there would be no better statement than rolling into Foxborough and beating the defending AFC champions.
The Patriots look better after a two-game losing streak, although the wins came against the Dolphins and Colts, a pair of mediocre teams. New England doesn’t need to legitimize anything either after years of winning, but knocking off a 5-0 Chiefs team would officially set to rest any concerns lingering from New England’s 1-2 start.
I’m sticking with the old guard this week and picking the Patriots. They seem to rise to these situations. New England has won 10 in a row at home, and covered the spread in nine of those games, according to OddsShark (of course, the Chiefs dealt the Patriots a rare home loss in the season opener last year). I’ll take the Patriots at minus-3 in the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em, and minus-3.5 in the SuperContest.
The result might be pretty important when it comes to seeding the AFC playoffs. If the Chiefs can win in New England, it’s hard to figure out who in the AFC might stop them.
Here are the rest of the against-the-spread picks for Week 6 in the NFL:
Chargers (-1) over Browns: I realize the Browns are very, very close to being a 5-0 team, as crazy as that sounds. And Baker Mayfield is going to be a star. Still, the Chargers are the better team. Don’t forget their two losses this year came against the Chiefs and Rams. (The spread is pick ’em on the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Jets (-2.5) over Colts: The Jets have either been horrendous or fantastic, with no in between. The Colts are playing hard and better than their talent level, but it’s still a banged-up team going on the road.
Jaguars (-3) over Cowboys: I’ll make this quick: I have no idea how the Cowboys move the ball in this game. (The spread is Jaguars -2.5 on the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
Broncos (+6.5) over Rams: The troubling part of taking the Broncos might be that their defense just isn’t good anymore. If you give up more than 500 yards to the Jets, you might have a terrible defense. Still, Denver plays better at home and this is a desperate spot for them. (The spread is Broncos +7.5 on the Yahoo Pro Football Pick’em.)
And here are the rest of the picks …
Eagles (-3) over Giants (picked Thursday): The Eagles needed this win to get back on track. It helped to be playing what looks like a terrible Giants team.
Buccaneers (+3.5) over Falcons: Well, I know there will be a lot of points scored. This is pretty much the Falcons’ last stand. If they can’t win this, I think their season is practically over at 1-5, given the tough division they’re in. I don’t have a lot of faith they can stop Jameis Winston in his first start back for the Bucs, so I’ll take the points.
Bengals (-1) over Steelers: It’s still tough to believe in the Steelers. Maybe their blowout win over Atlanta last week was the start of something good, but I’d need more confirmation before backing them on the road against a 4-1 Bengals team.
Seahawks (-2.5) over Raiders: Maybe this one being played in London gives the Raiders a better shot, because most of the vibes around that team are negative. Getting out of the country might help quiet all that down. I don’t love the Seahawks and they just had a tough loss to the Rams last week, but it’s hard to back the Raiders.
Dolphins (+3) over Bears: It seems like a trap. Everyone loves the Bears lately, the Dolphins’ last two games have been a blowout loss at New England and a collapse at Cincinnati. But the NFL is rarely as easy to predict as it appears. And home dogs are doing great this season. According to OddsShark, NFL home underdogs are 15-7 against the spread this season.
Cardinals (+11.5) over Vikings: Is the debacle against the Bills still in the front of my mind? Yep. Also, the Vikings come home off a huge win, getting that playoff revenge victory at Philadelphia last week. It’ll be hard for them to get up to play a bad Cards team.
Panthers (pick ’em) over Redskins: I don’t think Washington is a bad team because the Saints blasted them on a big night at the Superdome. But the Panthers are a little better, and that might be a tough loss for Washington to rebound from.
Bills (+10) over Texans: It’s not exactly soothing to back the Bills. But ask yourself this: What have the Texans done this season to justify laying double-digit points against anyone?
Titans (+2.5) over Ravens: The loss to the Bills last week pours a lot of cold water on the Titans’ good start. Still, as we said before, home underdogs have been very good in the NFL this season. Presumably the Titans will be refocused, and the Ravens are on their third road game in a row.
49ers (+10.5) over Packers: If you just looked at the score of last week’s 49ers-Cardinals game (nobody should have been forced to watch that), you probably assumed the Cardinals controlled the game. Nope. The 49ers more than doubled up the Cardinals in yards and had 33 first downs to 10 for Arizona. It’s one of the starkest examples you’ll find of a team dominating a game and still losing by 10. On the other side, Green Bay has been quite underwhelming this season. The 49ers have some injury issues, but I think they should cover a huge spread.
Last week: 7-7-1
Season to date: 37-37-4
SuperContest: 0-4-1 last week, 10-13-2 season to date
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