Kansas City Chiefs (5-0) at New England Patriots (3-2)
After last week’s win over a tough Jacksonville team that improved their record to 5-0, the Chiefs were anointed by many as the clear favorite in the AFC, but now they have to turn around and face another tough test in New England. The Patriots lost in Jacksonville earlier in the season, but they’re much improved since then. They’ve gotten top pass rusher Trey Flowers and valuable safety Patrick Chung back from injury on defense, wide receiver Julian Edelman has returned on offense, fellow wide receiver Josh Gordon has gotten more integrated into this offense, after being acquired via trade week 3, and first round rookie Sony Michel has broken out as the lead running back.
This game is also in New England, where the Patriots are virtually unbeatable, with just 22 losses in 150 games started at home by Tom Brady. It’s even tougher to win in New England for young quarterbacks like Pat Mahomes, who is in just his 7th career start. Remarkably a quarterback under the age of 25 has never beaten Tom Brady in Gillette in the regular season. Even more remarkable is Brady’s record in his career against teams with a better record than his. The league average winning percentage is 38.3% against teams with better records, but Brady is 35-12 straight up (74.5%) and 37-10 ATS. It’s going to be much tougher for the Chiefs to beat the Patriots this week than it was for the Jaguars to beat them in Jacksonville week 2.
The Chiefs’ offense is obviously dominant, but their defense remains a major concern. The common narrative seems to be that their defense is fixed because they held Jacksonville to 14 points last week, but they still allowed 29 first downs. They did force 5 takeaways, but other than takeaways they’ve had real trouble getting off the field this year, allowing a league high 142 first downs (13 more than the next closest team). Tom Brady and company are unlikely to turn the ball over much, so the Chiefs figure to have a really tough time getting them off the field, especially now that they’re missing top pass rusher Justin Houston.
This game will be a shootout, but the Patriots defense is underrated at full health and ultimately I trust them to get some stops against a young quarterback on the road in a hostile environment more than I trust the Chiefs to slow down this New England offense with Eric Berry and Justin Houston on the sidelines. I have this line calculated at New England -6, so we’re getting good line value with them at -3 and they’re in a great spot because they always get up for these big games against tough opponents. This is my Pick of the Week if you can get -3, even if you have to pay extra juice, but it’s worth a big bet even at -3.5 too if you’re getting less than normal juice.
New England Patriots 38 Kansas City Chiefs 30
Pick against the spread: New England -3
Confidence: Pick of the Week