Kansas City Chiefs (2-3) at Washington Football Team (2-3)
The Chiefs are 2-3 right now, but there isn’t much real reason for concern. Their issues have almost entirely been concentrated on the defensive side of the ball, as they lead the league in first down rate, but also in yards per play allowed, and the offensive side of the ball is much more predictive week-to-week. The Chiefs have also been better on offense relative to how bad they’ve been on defense, as there is a bigger gap in first down rate between the Chiefs and the 4th ranked Chargers than there is between the Chargers and the 25th ranked Raiders.
The Chiefs have also faced a relatively tough schedule, with the Browns, Chargers, Ravens, and Bills all likely being playoff qualifiers and their only relatively easy game coming against the Eagles, who aren’t a bad team either. Despite that schedule, the Chiefs could easily be 4-1 if not for the turnover margin. Turnover margin is one of the least predictive metrics in the league and the Chiefs have the second worst turnover margin in the league at -7, which has cost them at least a couple games.
That would be unlikely to continue for any team, but that’s especially the case for the Chiefs, as having an elite quarterback is one of the few ways to consistently fare well in the turnover margin. Overall, the Chiefs were +23 in turnover margin in Mahomes’ first 3 seasons in the league prior to this season. Even this season, most of Mahomes’ interceptions have been off of drops or tipped balls, which are unlikely to continue recurring at this rate.
Washington, meanwhile, could be 0-5 right now, if not for close wins over below average teams in the Giants and Falcons, with their three losses coming by a combined 37 points. They are starting a backup quarterback on offense, while their defense hasn’t been nearly as good as a year ago, as they aren’t getting the same level of play out of their back seven. Their offense could be in even more trouble than usual this week, as their injuries are piling up.
Washington already lost top offensive lineman Brandon Scherff a couple weeks ago, but they will also be without promising rookie right tackle Samuel Cosmi, while their receiving corps will be without #2 receiver Curtis Samuel, tight end Logan Thomas, and could be without #1 receiver Terry McLaurin, who could be limited even if he plays, after injuring his hamstring in practice on Friday. That will make life even tougher for backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke.
The public doesn’t seem to be buying the Chiefs’ record, betting the Chiefs as touchdown favorites, even though this line has shifted up from Kansas City -5.5 on the early line last season, so we’re not getting great line value with the Chiefs. However, they should be able to handle this game pretty easily, as they still have a dominant offense and this is their easiest game of the season thus far. This isn’t a big play, but the Chiefs are still undervalued, as my calculated line has them as 9.5 point favorites, so they’re worth betting.
Update: Some -6.5s have popped up. This is a bigger play at this number. As long as the Chiefs can avoid fluky turnovers, there still isn’t a team in the league I trust more to score a touchdown on any given drive, so it’ll be tough for this underwhelming Washington team to keep it within one score.
Kansas City Chiefs 34 Washington Football Team 24
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -6.5