Alex Smith

Patriots, Chiefs take long streaks into NFL season opener

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An impressive streak against the spread will end when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots are listed as nine-point favorites against the Chiefs on the NFL Week 1 betting lines with a 48-point total for their Thursday Night Football matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Defending Super Bowl champion New England is 11-0 straight-up in its last 11 conference games and is also 8-0 against the spread in its last eight games, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. However, Kansas City, which compiled the second-best record in the AFC last season, is 6-0 SU and ATS over its last six road games, suggesting they’re capable of earning the cover against a touchdown-plus line, if not winning outright.

Kansas City is 0-6 SU and 2-4 ATS in its last six road games against New England. Dating back to 2014, the Patriots are 10-4 ATS as a home favorite of 7.5 or more points.

The Chiefs were 12-5 and 9-8 ATS in 2016. Quarterback is Alex Smith is a game manager and few would try to argue otherwise, but will be surrounded by multiple weapons. If the Patriots focus on taking away the threat of TE Travis Kelce, that could create opening for long gains from both WR Tyreek Hill and rookie RB Kareem Hunt.

Kansas City is one of the best teams in the NFL at ball security, which could help with avoiding the early miscue that Brady and Co. turn into a lead that riles up the Gillette Stadium crowd.

The Patriots, who were 17-2 SU and 16-3 ATS overall last season, have surrounded Brady with a receiving corps built much more around speed, and also have TE Rob Gronkowski fully healthy. The main question is how much Brady, at this point, is on the same page with freshly arrived WR Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett, who have joined Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola.

New England will have to be in sync, especially against a Chiefs defense that is very good at limiting opponents to field goals on red-zone opportunities.

Kansas City and OLB Justin Houston have managed to apply pressure to Brady in the past (most notably in a 41-14 victory during the 2014 season). Houston was not healthy when Kansas City got zero sacks during a playoff loss at New England two seasons ago.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is 26-10 SU in his career in season openers or in games after bye weeks. That’s impressive, albeit not as much as Patriots coach Bill Belichick being 40-12 SU  in season openers or in games after bye weeks.

The total has gone over in five of the Chiefs’ last seven games on the road against the Patriots, and has also gone over in six of the Chiefs’ last eight September games.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

Sunday Night Football: Broncos hope for bye-week bump as favorites against Chiefs

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The Denver Broncos bring a post-bye week win streak into their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos are the 3.5-point betting favorite against the Chiefs with a 39.5-point total in the Sunday night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While Denver is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games as a favorite of 3.5 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, a more pertinent metric might be that the Broncos are 8-2 both straight-up and ATS in games after the bye week since 2006. The Chiefs also own an impressive trend of being 7-0 SU in their last seven divisional games.

The teams are tied for second in the AFC West and the winner will greatly improve its playoff prospects.

For Kansas City, which is 7-3 SU and 4-6 ATS, there could be added pressure on QB Alex Smith and the offense to perform since their 20th-ranked defense is maddeningly inconsistent. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, as a member of the Cleveland Browns last season, limited reigning Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to one quarterback pressure. Containing Miller will be essential.

Kansas City could be challenged in the passing phase since the possible absence of No. 1 WR Jeremy Maclin (groin) would mean that Broncos pass defenders such as CB Chris Harris, FS Darian Stewart and CB Aqib Talib can put more focus on WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Kelce has not scored a touchdown in four career games against the Broncos.

Denver’s third-ranked defense does allow a generous 4.4 yards per carry. As long as the time and score permit staying on the ground, Chiefs RB Spencer Ware should be able to grind out some tough yards.

Denver is 7-3 SU and 7-3 ATS. In their last outing, the Broncos won in New Orleans as the underdog and they happen to be 13-2 SU in their last 15 games after winning as the underdog. The Broncos’ offense, with starting QB Trevor Siemian, is the sixth-least productive in the NFL, but whether the Chiefs’ defense has the edge is questionable. Kansas City will have top CB Marcus Peters back to fortify their coverage against WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders.

Three core members of Kansas City’s front seven – DE Jaye Howard (hip), NT Dontari Poe (knee) and ILB Derrick Johnson – are probably going to play hurt. That might help facilitate some openings for RB Devontae Booker. Against a Chiefs team with an NFL-best +13 giveaway/takeaway ratio, Siemian is going to have to be disciplined in order to make sure Denver cashes in their scoring opportunities.

The total has gone under in the Chiefs’ last six games. The total has gone under in four of the Broncos’ last five games with a closing total of 40 points or less.