Kansas City Chiefs (4-2) at San Francisco 49ers (3-3)
The Chiefs have a pair of losses, but both of them were games they easily could have won. One of the losses came by 4 points on a late drive against a Bills team that is arguably the best in the league, while the other came against the Colts in a game in which the Chiefs lost the turnover battle by one and in which their backup kicker missed an extra point and a field goal, leading to a 3-point loss, despite the Chiefs winning the first down rate battle by 5.50% and the yards per play battle by 1.50, which are both significantly more predictive than turnovers or special teams. Even with their two losses, the Chiefs still rank 1st in the NFL in every major offensive category, points, first down rate, and schedule adjusted offensive efficiency, with the latter being a metric in which they are over two points better than any other team in the league.
That’s a great sign for the Chiefs going forward because offensive performance is significantly more predictive week-to-week than defensive performance, and the Chiefs haven’t been bad on defense either, ranking 15th in schedule adjusted efficiency, while their typically strong special teams unit should be better going forward with regular kicker Harrison Butker now healthy again. Even with a mediocre special teams unit taken into account, the Chiefs still rank 2nd in schedule adjusted overall efficiency, only behind the dominant Bills, who happen to be the only team to beat the Chiefs in a game in which the Chiefs had a healthy kicker this season.
The 49ers, on the other hand, are known for their offensive skill position players like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle, and Brandon Aiyuk, but rank below average in points per game (20th), first down rate (19th), and schedule adjusted offensive efficiency (20th). Some put the majority of the blame for that on their quarterback play, but the bigger culprit has been their offensive line, which hasn’t played nearly as well as a year ago. They’ll get left tackle Trent Williams back this week for the first time since week 3, a huge re-addition because he is arguably the best left tackle in the league when healthy, but the 49ers are still missing a trio of offensive line starters from a year ago, all of whom have been replaced by players who are not playing as well.
The 49ers acquired former Panthers feature back Christian McCaffrey in a trade this week to give them yet another offensive playmaker and, while he could easily have a big impact for them in the future, he’s unlikely to factor significantly into this game, having just joined the team a few days ago. The 49ers have dominant defense, ranking 4th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, which more or less matches how their defense ranks in my roster rankings, but their special teams has struggled again this season, ranking 27th in schedule adjusted efficiency after ranking 28th last season, and, overall, I have them 5.5 points behind the Chiefs.
With that in mind, my calculated line has the Chiefs favored by a field goal in this game, on the road in San Francisco. Given that, we are getting some line value with the Chiefs as mere 1-point favorites, but that’s not quite enough for the Chiefs to be betting. They are still the pick for pick ‘em purposes and, in matchups between dominant offenses and dominant defenses, the team with the dominant offense tends to win more often, but this is only a low confidence pick because we’re not getting significant line value.
Kansas City Chiefs 27 San Francisco 49ers 24
Pick against the spread: Kansas City -1