Kansas City Chiefs (6-5) at New York Jets (4-7)
Entering the season, the Chiefs were near the top of my overrated list. They finished the 2016 season 12-4, but that was largely because of a +16 turnover margin (and a subsequent +7 return touchdown margin) and a 6-3 record in games decided by 8 or fewer points, two things that tend to be inconsistent on a year-to-year basis. They ranked just 24th in first down rate differential and looked poised for a disappointing 2017. That assessment looked incorrect to start the season when the Chiefs won their first 5 games, they were never as good as that record suggested.
Many of those wins were close and their offense was highly unlikely to continue its incredibly low turnover rate (1 turnover in the first 5 games) and its high yards per carry average (5.70 YPC). Those rates have dropped significantly in the 6 games since, as they have 7 turnovers and a 3.50 YPC average in those 6 games. On the defensive side, they’ve continued to struggle mightily without All-Pro safety Eric Berry, who tore his achilles in the opener in New England. They rank dead last in first down rate allowed at 38.21% and have struggled mightily to get off the field when they aren’t forcing turnovers.
As a result, they’ve lost 5 of 6 games, with their one win coming at home against Denver, a 3-8 team who outgained them by 100 yards. In their last 2 weeks, they’ve lost to the Giants and the Bills, who have both made quarterback changes in the last month. Once 5-0, the Chiefs are now 6-5 with a precarious 1-game lead over the Raiders and Chargers in the AFC West. The Chiefs rank just 19th in my roster rankings and just 22nd in first down rate differential at -2.02%, so I think they’re still a little bit worse than their record.
The spreads don’t seem to be catching up with how bad the Chiefs have been lately, as they are favored by more than a field goal here in New York against the Jets. They were 6 point favorites on the early line last week, but just 14% of games are decided by 4-6 points, so that’s not a huge shift, given that the Chiefs lost at home to the Bills, who were coming off 3 straight losses by a combined 80 points. As long as this line is higher than 3 points, we are getting great line value with the Jets, as about 25% of games are decided by 3 points or fewer.
The Jets were +6 at home for the Panthers last week and were leading them before two Carolina fourth quarter return touchdowns. Even still, the Jets came close to covering in a 8-point loss and that was their only non-cover of the year at home. They’ve beaten the Bills, Dolphins, and Jaguars at home and have played close games against the Patriots and Falcons. I don’t see why they couldn’t at least keep it within a field goal against the Chiefs and I think they have a good chance to win straight up as well. I locked this in at 4 earlier this week, but the Jets are a high confidence pick at 3.5 as well and a medium confidence pick at 3. The money line is also worth a bet at +160.
New York Jets 24 Kansas City Chiefs 23 Upset Pick +160
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +4