Arizona Cardinals (2-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
The Cardinals have been pretty terrible this season, but their offense looked much better in their first game under new offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were better in their first game out of the bye as well, with Leftwich now having another 2 weeks on the job. The schedule doesn’t do them any favors, as they have to head to Kansas City to play the AFC leading Chiefs, but they could definitely keep this game closer than the 16.5 point spread because the Chiefs are in a major look ahead spot, with a trip to Mexico City to play the NFC leading Rams on deck.
Teams tend to struggle before international games like that anyway, but the Chiefs are especially in a tough spot because of how big that game is going to be for them. Favorites of 12+ are just 18-37 ATS since 2002 before being underdogs. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have arguably their easiest game of the season on deck, as they host the Raiders next week, a game in which they will almost definitely be favored. Underdogs are 86-53 ATS since 2014 before being favorites when their opponent will next be underdogs. Coming out of a bye with an easy game on deck, the Cardinals should be fully focused for this game against one of the NFL’s best, while the Chiefs could easily not give their best effort and let the Cardinals hang around.
The Cardinals wouldn’t be the first team the Chiefs have let hang around. In fact, if the Chiefs were to cover this 16.5 point spread, it would be their 2nd biggest margin of victory of the season. They obviously have an incredible offense, but their defense ranks 30th in first down rate allowed at 42.19% and could allow the Cardinals to move the ball with ease in garbage time and keep this one within the 16.5 points. This isn’t a huge play because of the significant talent disparity between these two teams, but this should be closer than expected.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Arizona Cardinals 21
Pick against the spread: Arizona +16.5