Kansas City Chiefs (1-7) at Pittsburgh Steelers (5-3)
The Chiefs have yet to lead in regulation through 8 games, the first time a team has done that since 1929 and that team folded after the season. Actually, they were also the first team to do that through 7 games since 1929 as well. However, they aren’t the worst team in the NFL. They don’t rank dead last in either rate of sustaining drives differential or yards per play differential (that distinction belongs to Jacksonville). They rank 24th and 31st respectively in those two statistics and that’s including sometime that the inferior Brady Quinn spent at quarterback.
The reason that those two important statistics say they’re slightly better than their record is their turnover differential. Through just 8 games, they are -20 in turnovers. Even if they tied the NFL single season record of -30 (record is -28 since merger), their turnover differential would be -10 in their final 8 games, two times better than it was in their first eight games. Besides, turnover differentials tend to be inconsistent on a week to week basis, as you can see here. Turnovers aside, they’re not completely horrific.
We are getting line value with them even if you don’t take into account that Brady Quinn spent some time at quarterback. Cassel is the better quarterback and, at the very least, his interception rate will go back to his career average. If you average out those two real line calculations, you get -12 and this line is -12.5. The Chiefs are also in a good spot as road dogs off a road loss, coming off a loss in San Diego this week. Teams are 78-47 ATS since 2008 in that spot. Meanwhile, as well as the Steelers are playing, they’re still not a team built to blow people out and cover a 12 point spread like this without Troy Polamlau, with whom they allow about a touchdown less per game than without over the past few years.
We’re also getting a chance to fade a heavy public lean with Kansas City. As some of you may know, the public killed the odds makers in unprecedented fashion last week, going 12-2 and winning every heavy lean. The odds makers aren’t going broke or anything. They killed the public for the first 8 weeks of the season and are still up on the year, but given that, I would be very nervous to bet on a heavy public lean this week because the odds makers, regardless of whether or not you believe in conspiracy theories, always have a way of bouncing back.
That being said, it’s only a one unit play. Kansas City is too horrible to put more than that on them. They seem to have a knack for being blown out and it’s not just this season. Dating back to 2010, they’ve lost 14 games by 16 or more games, out of 23 total losses. Even from 2010-2011, a stretch in which they went 17-16, they still lost 9 or more by a blowout score. That could happen again here, but I do like the dog. The Steelers are also my survivor pick.
Public lean: Pittsburgh (new thing I’m adding, siding with the odds makers on bets is not a bad thing to do since they make so much money, so I’m listing this here to allow readers to “fade” the public, if they so choose, in this example, the odds makers win if Kansas City covers)
Sharps lean: KC 5 PIT 1
Final update: Sharps lean is exactly what I expected. People don’t like Pittsburgh, but no one really wants to take Kansas City either.
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Kansas City Chiefs 16 Survivor Pick (HOU, NE, NO, BAL, SF, ATL, CHI, GB, SD)
Pick against spread: Kansas City +12.5 (-110) 1 unit