Kansas City Chiefs at Cincinnati Bengals: 2022 Week 13 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-4)

A week ago on the early line, the Chiefs were favored by a field goal in Cincinnati, but this line has since fallen down to two, a significant shift, given that one in six games are decided by three points exactly. That line movement seems like an overreaction to a single week of play and a strange one at that, with both the Bengals and Chiefs both barely covering the spread last week, hardly results that would seem to result in a line movement. 

I don’t think the line should have moved, especially since a Kansas City win by a field goal seems like the single most likely outcome of this game, with the Chiefs being the better team and a field goal deciding about 1 out of every 6 games. The Bengals are better than their record, with three of their four losses coming by three points or fewer and a +54 point differential that ranks 6th in the NFL, but they’re still significantly behind the Chiefs in point differential (+83) and in schedule adjusted efficiency, with the 2nd ranked Chiefs holding a 4-point edge over the 6th ranked Bengals. 

The Bengals are getting healthier, with stud interior defender DJ Reader returning a few weeks ago and top wide receiver JaMarr Chase expected back this week, but the Chiefs are about as healthy as a team can be at this point in the season and also hold a 6-point edge in my roster rankings over the Bengals. There’s not enough here for the Chiefs to be worth betting, but we’re getting at least some line value with them and they seem like the better pick for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 34 Cincinnati Bengals 31

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -2

Confidence: Low

Los Angeles Rams at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 12 NFL Pick

Los Angeles Rams (3-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (8-2)

Entering the season as defending Super Bowl Champions, few expected the Rams would be 15.5-point underdogs at any point this season, but that’s where we’re at right now, due to all of the injuries suffered by the Rams’ offense. Already missing a pair of starting offensive linemen from last year’s team due to off-season departures, the Rams have lost the other three starting offensive linemen from last year’s team mid-season due to injuries, while starting quarterback Matt Stafford and his elite #1 receiver Cooper Kupp are also out, leaving the Rams with arguably the least talented offense in the NFL.

The Rams’ defense is still mostly intact, losing Von Miller this off-season, but adding another stud linebacker in Bobby Wagner, staying mostly healthy, and ranking 12th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency. However, even with an above average defense, I have the Rams nine points below average in my roster rankings and, with the Rams in Kansas City this week, it’s not hard to justify this line, even as high as it is. If anything, it might not be high enough.

At 8-2, the Chiefs have the best record in the AFC, which is the tougher of the two conferences, and they are arguably the best team in the league overall, ranking seven points above average in schedule adjusted efficiency and nine points above average in my roster rankings, suggesting this line should be closer to -20 than -15.5. This line is too big for the Chiefs to be worth betting, but I don’t see this game being particularly close, with the Rams fielding an offense that is made up of almost entirely backups at this point, so the Chiefs are the better side for pick ‘em purposes.

Kansas City Chiefs 28 Los Angeles Rams 10

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -15.5

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers: 2022 Week 11 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (7-2) at Los Angeles Chargers (5-4)

The Chargers are 5-4, but their only win by more than one score came by 10 points against arguably the worst team in the league in the Houston Texans, while two of their losses came by 14 points or more, giving them a point differential of -28 (23rd in the NFL). That’s despite a +2 turnover margin, which is not predictive, and they are even worse than that in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, ranking 30th, 5.5 points below average, which is much more predictive than turnover margin. 

The biggest problem for the Chargers has been their injuries, with stud left tackle Rashawn Slater, their two talented wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, stud edge defender Joey Bosa, and expected #1 cornerback JC Jackson, among others, all out for extended periods of time. It seems like Allen and Williams could return this week, after practicing throughout the week, but they only practiced in a limited fashion and they are returning from injuries that have cost them seven games and two games respectively, so it’s far from a guarantee that they’ll play, that they’ll play at full strength, and that they’ll play the full game.

With Allen and Williams at least somewhat likely to return in some fashion, the Chargers are only 1.5 points below average in my roster rankings, which isn’t great, but it’s better than where they are in schedule adjusted efficiency. However, the Chiefs still fare much better in both, ranking 2nd in schedule adjusted efficiency, about 8 points above average, and 4th in my roster rankings, about 9 points above average. Not only do the Chiefs rank 3rd in the NFL in point differential at +64, but they have done it despite a -4 turnover margin, which should improve going forward.

The Chargers also have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles, which has been the case since they arrived in the city in 2017, as they lack a local fanbase. As a result of largely playing in front of crowds that favor the road team, the Chargers are 16-27 ATS at home since moving in 2017, as opposed to 27-16 ATS on the road. Chiefs fans especially show up to games in Los Angeles and, unsurprisingly, the Chargers are 1-3 ATS against the Chiefs in Los Angeles. I want to wait on the status of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen before locking in a bigger bet, but getting the Chiefs as just 5-point favorites in what amounts to a neutral site game against a still banged up Chargers team seems like a great value. This is a medium confidence pick for now, but could end up as a high confidence pick.

Kansas City Chiefs 27 Los Angeles Chargers 17

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -5

Confidence: Medium

Jacksonville Jaguars at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 10 NFL Pick

Jacksonville Jaguars (3-6) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-2)

Despite their 3-6 record, the Jaguars have a positive point differential at +21 and rank 9th in schedule adjusted efficiency, about three points above average. That’s in large part due to all six of their losses being decided by eight points or fewer. The Jaguars are 9.5-point underdogs this week in Kansas City, which might seem high, given that the Jaguars have yet to be blown out, but the Jaguars rank four points below average in my roster rankings, suggesting they’ve overperformed their talent level and are likely to regress going forward, and the Jaguars also haven’t played a game this tough yet.

Even after an underwhelming performance against the Titans last week, the Chiefs are still among the best teams in the league. In terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, the Chiefs rank 3rd, about eight points above average, led by an offense that leads the league in schedule adjusted efficiency by a wide margin, and my roster rankings support that, with the Chiefs about ten points above average. Overall, my calculated line has the Chiefs favored by 12, suggesting that we’re getting a little bit of line value with them as 9.5-point favorites. That’s not enough to bet on them though, especially with the Chiefs in a potential look ahead spot, with a matchup against the Chargers on deck after facing a 3-6 Jaguars team this week. I’m still taking the Chiefs, but for pick ‘em purposes only.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Jacksonville Jaguars 20

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -9.5

Confidence: Low

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 9 NFL Pick

Tennessee Titans (5-2) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Both of these two teams are 5-2, but they have arrived at that point in very different ways. While all five of the Titans’ wins have come by close margins, with no double digit victories, the Chiefs have three double digit victories in their five wins, which tends to be much more predictive than close wins. As a result, the Titans actually have a negative point differential at -6, while the Chiefs rank 3rd at +51. 

The gap between these two teams is even bigger than that suggests too, as the Titans have faced a significantly easier schedule and have benefited more from the turnover margin (+2 vs. 0), which is not predictive week-to-week. In terms of first downs and yards per play, which are much more predictive, the Titans rank 26th in first down rate and 20th in yards per play allowed, leading to them ranking six points below average in overall schedule adjusted efficiency, about 15 points behind the Chiefs (1st in first down rate and 16th in yards per play allowed). 

The Titans are underdogs of 12.5 points in this game in Kansas City, despite their record, and they could get regular starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill back from a one-game absence, after he got some limited practice work in this week, but, even if Tannehill plays, I think we are getting some line value with the Titans, as I have this line calculated at Kansas City -15 in that case. My calculated line would shoot up to Kansas City -18.5 if Tannehill sat, leading to third round rookie Malik Willis making his second career start after an underwhelming debut against the Texans last week. Unless we know Tannehill isn’t playing and the line doesn’t move, I probably won’t bet on this game at such a high number, but the Chiefs should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes either way.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Tennessee Titans 15

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -12.5

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers: 2022 Week 7 NFL Pick

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

Confidence: Low

Buffalo Bills at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 6 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (4-1)

You could make a strong argument that these are the two best teams in the league. Both have a loss, unlike the league’s lone remaining undefeated Philadelphia Eagles, but both losses were very close and they are the two highest ranked teams in terms of schedule adjusted efficiency, with the Bills leading the league and having a .7 point edge over the Chiefs. My roster rankings reflect that as well, with the Bills having a 1.2 point edge over the 2nd ranked Chiefs, especially now that they are getting healthy, with tight end Dawson Knox, center Mitch Morse, interior defenders Ed Oliver and Jordan Phillips, safety Jordan Poyer, and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds all in the lineup this week after missing time earlier this season.

The Bills may be a little overvalued though, as 2.5-point favorites on the road in Kansas City. These two teams are closer than that suggests and the Chiefs should at least be slight favorites at home in this matchup, with my calculated line at Kansas City -1.5. I would need a full field goal for the Chiefs to be worth betting against the spread, but the money line is a good value at +125 and the Chiefs should be the pick for pick ‘em purposes, as this game should be a toss up at worst.

Kansas City Chiefs 31 Buffalo Bills 30 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Kansas City +2.5

Confidence: Low

Las Vegas Raiders at Kansas City Chiefs: 2022 Week 5 NFL Pick

Las Vegas Raiders (1-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-1)

The Chiefs are 3-1 and could easily be 4-0 if not for missed makeable kicks and turnovers in a 3-point loss to the Colts, a game in which the Chiefs won 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. In terms of overall efficiency, which is based on first down rate and yards per play, the Chiefs rank 5th and my roster rankings have them as the most talented team in the league overall.

The Raiders, meanwhile, are 1-3, but all four of their games could have gone either way and their roster is middling overall. Despite that, they are only 7-point underdogs on the road in Kansas City, so we’re getting some line value with the Chiefs, who I have as 8 points better than the Raiders and 10-point home favorites on my calculated line. That being said, the Chiefs are in a bad spot this week, with a much tougher game against the Bills on deck, so I can’t be confident betting them. They are the right side for pick ‘em purposes though.

Kansas City Chiefs 34 Las Vegas Raiders 24

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -7

Confidence: Low

Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 2022 Week 4 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)

I’ve mentioned this in the Buccaneers’ first three games, but Tom Brady led teams have been a strong bet as underdogs or favorites of less than three in his career, going 59-29 ATS in that spot, including 2-1 ATS this season. The one loss was last week against the Packers, but Tom Brady was missing wide receivers Mike Evans, Julio Jones, and Chris Godwin, as well as stud left tackle Donovan Smith. This week, Evans is set to return from a one-game suspension, while Jones, Godwin, and Smith are at least gametime decisions. 

Just Evans’ presence alone will be a big boost for this offense, but if all three of those players are active, the Buccaneers will be healthier than they’ve been since early in week one before Smith and Godwin went down. Their offense has struggled thus far this season, but their defense is the real deal, ranking third in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency and, if their offense can bounce back, which they easily can with Brady and a healthier supporting cast, the Buccaneers should still be considered among the top teams in the league.

Despite that, the Buccaneers are 1-point home underdogs here against the Chiefs. I do have the Chiefs a little higher in my roster rankings, but my calculated line is Tampa Bay -1.5, so we’re at least getting some line value with the Buccaneers, in addition to getting Brady in a spot where he’s been an almost automatic bet in his career. Brady has also been close to an automatic bet off of a loss in his career, going 36-11 ATS unless he’s favored by more than a touchdown. The Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes is also an elite quarterback, but he doesn’t have the same track record after a loss (6-7 ATS) and I would give the edge to Brady at home in this matchup, especially if any of the aforementioned gametime decisions play. Without a better option this week, the Buccaneers are my Pick of the Week.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 24 Kansas City Chiefs 20

Pick against the spread: Tampa Bay +1

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts: 2022 Week 3 NFL Pick

Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) at Indianapolis Colts (0-1-1)

The Colts have gotten off to a 0-1-1 start, but they still rank 17th in overall efficiency, with their biggest problem thus far being a -4 turnover margin, which is not predictive week-to-week. However, they have faced one of the easiest schedules in the league across the first two weeks of the season, playing the Texans and Jaguars, two of the least talented teams in the league on paper, so their performance has been pretty underwhelming overall. 

Their underwhelming performance is not terribly surprising though, considering the Colts lost a pair of offensive line starters this off-season and are playing without their most important defensive player Shaq Leonard to begin the season. The Colts do get top receivers Michael Pittman and Alec Pierce back from one-game absences this week, but are still a below average team in my roster rankings, especially with Matt Ryan seemingly showing his age, in his age 37 season.

The public and odds makers seem to be catching on that the Colts are not as good as expected this season, with this line shifting significantly from favoring the Chiefs by 3 on the early line last week to 5.5 this week, but I still think we are getting significant line value with the Chiefs, who I have calculated as 10-point favorites. That has as much to do with the Chiefs legitimately being one of the top teams in the league as it has to do with the Colts being a below average team without Leonard. 

Overall, the Chiefs rank 2nd in the league in overall efficiency, only behind the Bills, led by an offense that leads the league in efficiency by about 1.5 points over the next best team and a defense that is significantly improved over a year ago, ranking 11th in defensive efficiency, despite facing a pair of high level quarterbacks in Kyler Murray and Justin Herbert. That largely mirrors my roster rankings, in which the Chiefs actually rank first, ahead of the currently banged up Bills. This isn’t a huge play, but the Chiefs are worth betting, even with this line shooting up in the past week. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to beat the Colts by multiple scores.

Kansas City Chiefs 30 Indianapolis Colts 20

Pick against the spread: Kansas City -5.5

Confidence: Medium