Indianapolis Colts (9-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (11-3)
I’m completely split on this one. Not only do I not have a convincing argument for either side, but both of these two teams are essentially locked in to their current seed. Kansas City would need Denver to lose to either Houston or Oakland for them to move up (not happening) and they can’t move down, while the Colts would need the Bengals to lose at home to either the Vikings or the Ravens (probably not happening) to move up and they can’t move down.
On top of that, not only are they locked into their current seeds, but they will almost definitely be playing each other in the 1st round in the 4/5 matchup. Sure, these two teams might still have hope about moving up, but, at the same time, their coaching staffs could be realistic and believe it makes more sense to concede this game and stay in their current spot than to let their opponent get a firsthand look at their best stuff. They might not do that, but the fact that either could makes this game so uncertain, especially since we don’t know which team would be to the one to do so.
Moving on to not having a convincing argument for either side, there are two conflicting trends here. On one hand, the Chiefs scored a ridiculous 56 points last week. Teams tend to carry that over into the next week, going 45-29 ATS since 1989 as favorites off of a game in which they scored 48 or more points. On the other hand, this is the last tough game on Indianapolis’ schedule, while Kansas City still has a trip to San Diego coming up. The Colts host the Jaguars next week. Teams are 116-86 as non-divisional road underdogs before divisional home favorites since 2002.
Gun to my head, I’m taking Kansas City. They rank 7th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 72.23% rate, as opposed to 67.12% for their opponents, a differential of 5.11% that ranks 7th in the NFL. The Colts, however, are all the way down at 17th, moving the chains at a 71.86% rate, as opposed to 72.25% for their opponents, a differential of -0.39%. That suggests this line should be closer to 8.5, instead of 7, and that doesn’t even take into account that the Colts are not playing good football of late. They have a point differential of -37 since the bye, 7 games, despite a 22 point win over the lowly Texans last week. The Chiefs also are probably going to get back Justin Houston from injury. He looked like the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner before he got hurt and they’ve noticeably missed him defensively, so that’ll be a big re-addition. I’m not confident in the Chiefs at all though.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 Indianapolis Colts 17
Pick against spread: Kansas City -7