Washington Redskins (2-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-0)
The Chiefs have gotten off to a hot start, winning each of their first 3 games. The most surprising part is how they’ve done it. The Chiefs have been a defense first team for several years, but they rank 2nd in first down rate through 3 games at 41.92% and they are tied with the Patriots with 12 offensive touchdowns. Their defense, meanwhile, actually leads the league in first downs allowed with 76 and ranks 4th worst in first down rate allowed at 38.86%, so they’ve been winning in spite of their defense, not because of it.
Unfortunately, it’s unlikely they’re this good all season offensively. They currently have a quarterback rating of 132.7, just 1 turnover on 167 offensive plays (the first play of the season ironically), and a 6.85 yards per carry average on the ground. They’re on pace to break all sorts of offensive records if they keep on their current pace, but it’s highly unlikely that this is one of the greatest offenses of all time, so they’re likely to fall off their current pace significantly. Last season, they finished just 20th in first down rate. They’re obviously better than that now with Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill emerging as big playmakers and Alex Smith playing as well as he ever has, but they might not be a top-5 or even a top-10 offense when all is said and done.
If they’re going to keep winning at a high rate, they’re going to have to play better defensively. That’s definitely a possibility, as their schedule gets easier, after starting the year with New England, Philadelphia, and the LA Chargers, but this defense is simply not the same without safety Eric Berry, who is out for the season with a torn achilles. Berry isn’t the only injury the Chiefs are dealing with, as center Mitch Morse and outside linebacker Tamba Hali remain out, while left tackle Eric Fisher and Dee Ford could join them on the sidelines after missing practice time late in the week. The Redskins are relatively healthy and an above average team that should be able to keep this game close. I have this line calculated at about -4, so we’re getting significant line value at -7. The Redskins are worth a bet if you can get a full touchdown.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Washington Redskins 20
Pick against the spread: Washington +7