New York Giants (2-5) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-4)
The Chiefs shockingly scored just 3 points last week against a Titans defense that was mediocre statistically coming into last week. Despite that uncharacteristically poor performance, the Chiefs still rank 1st on the season in first down rate at 39.5% and 5th in yards per play at 6.2. Their defense has been the problem for most of the season, ranking dead last in first down rate allowed at 38.3% and in yards per play allowed at 6.6, but defensive performance is much less predictive week-to-week than offensive performance and the Chiefs are much healthier on defense now than they have been all season.
Last week was the Chiefs’ first game with interior defender Chris Jones, cornerback Charvarius Ward, edge defender Frank Clark, and safety Tyrann Mathieu active at the same time, resulting in a solid defensive performance that was wasted by their terrible offensive performance. Assuming the Chiefs can bounce back on offense, their defense has enough talent to be a complementary unit going forward. The turnover margin has also been a problem for the Chiefs, as they rank tied for last with the Jaguars with a -10 turnover margin, but many of their turnovers have been on tipped balls or drops and turnover margin is not a predictive stat on a week-to-week basis in general.
I would expect any team in the Chiefs’ turnover margin situation to bounce back going forward, but the Chiefs are better equipped than most teams to bounce back, as having an elite quarterback like Patrick Mahomes is the best way to consistently perform well in the turnover margin. Prior to this season, the Chiefs were +23 in turnover margin across Mahomes’ first three seasons in the league combined and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see their turnover situation swing dramatically over the remainder of the season. This line shifted from favoring the Chiefs by 13 on the early line last week to favoring them by 9.5 this week, as a result of the Chiefs’ disappointing performance in Tennessee and the Giants win over the Panthers last week, but that is a little bit of an overreaction.
Unfortunately, we’re not getting quite enough line value with the Chiefs for them to be worth betting because I do think the Giants are still a little underrated, as two of their losses came by a combined four points, while their loss to the Cowboys was a tied game when they lost Daniel Jones to a concussion. My calculated line is Kansas City -11.5, so we’re getting some line value with the Chiefs, but they’re also in a bit of a questionable spot, with a much tougher game against the Packers on deck after a short week, following this Monday Night Football contest.
Favorites of a touchdown or more cover at just a 42.6% rate all-time before facing an opponent who has a winning percentage over 50% higher than their current opponent, which applies to the Chiefs this week. It’s possible the Chiefs won’t overlook the Giants, given that the Chiefs are coming off of an embarrassing loss, but they also might feel this will be an easy game to “get right” with and not focus as much as they would if this was a tougher opponent. There is enough uncertainty here for the Chiefs to not be worth a bet, even if they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 New York Giants 20
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5