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.

Two teams are set to dominate the 2019 NFL Draft: Patriots and…the Raiders?

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The owner of the 2019 NFL Draft? Oakland, with rookie GM Mike Mayock, who counts Bill Belichick as one of his best friends in football.

The power broker, potentially, of the 2019 NFL Draft? New England, which will have the ammo to move up, down and sideways—and Belichick has always loved wheeling and dealing on draft weekend.

The Raiders have four picks in the top 35. The Patriots have one pick in the top 55. But that’s a misleading part of the story. There’s great depth in this draft from pick 25 to 100 and even deeper, some scouts at the Senior Bowl thought. So there could be fine value in the Patriot picks when they are slated to choose five times in a 45-pick span from 56 to 101.

Raiders and Patriots picks in the top 110 overall choices of the draft, as of today:

• New England: 1st round, 32nd overall; 2-56; 2-64; 3-73; 3-97^; 3-101^

• Oakland: 1st round, 4th overall; 1-24; 1-27; 2-35; 3-66; 4-106

^ Projected compensatory picks for the losses of Nate Solder and Malcolm Butler in free agency, as calculated by Over the Cap’s Nick Korte.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America by clicking here

Bengals coach Zac Taylor has had no time to process the Rams’ crushing Super Bowl LIII loss

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Don’t you always wonder what it’s like for a man to coach in the Super Bowl, then, a day or two later, get introduced as the new coach of Team X? It’s crazy. Happened twice last week. The Patriots found it odd that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was in their Atlanta lobby at 9 a.m. Monday, 5.5 hours after the Super Bowl victory party ended, to ferry new coach Brian Flores (ex-Patriots defensive coordinator) to south Florida to be introduced as coach Monday afternoon. Zac Taylor had a few more hours to get his family to Cincinnati. The former Rams quarterback coach’s introductory press conference was Tuesday.

So it was interesting to hear Taylor’s reaction over the weekend when I asked him: “How disappointing was it to play the way your offense played in the Super Bowl?”

“I haven’t had a chance to process it, quite honestly,” he said from Cincinnati. “There just hasn’t been time. I haven’t watched the game. Honestly, I’m conflicted. It’s devastating to work so hard to get to the championship game, and for your entire team to pour everything they’ve got into it, and then to lose like that.

“But five or six hours after the game, I’m on a plane to Cincinnati, on the way to fulfill a dream I’ve had for so long—to be a head coach in the NFL. And then your brain goes there. It’s just … it’s just the way it is, and you’ve got to turn the page.”

There was some discomfort in his voice, bordering on pain. It’s easy to sit back and say, Buck up, buddy. You’re about to make millions to coach a football team. True, but if you’ve been a football coach for a while, and you help your team get to the Super Bowl, regardless of the outcome, it’s got to be odd to just walk out the door a few hours after the biggest game of all of your lives, no time to process or adjust, and you move on while everyone else wallows.

One other question. I asked Taylor if he’d had much of a chance to consider how close the Rams came to taking a lead with four minutes left in the third quarter, when Jason McCourty, panic-stricken, ran 20 yards in 2.4 seconds (per NFL Next Gen Stats) to bat a decisive touchdown away from Brandin Cooks in the back of the end zone. If Jared Goff was a millisecond quicker with his throw, the touchdown would have given LA a 7-3 lead and put huge pressure on New England. Instead, the Rams settled for a field goal to tie it, 3-3.

Taylor: Sigh.

“In football, you just miss by inch sometimes,” he said. “You can be an inch from … “

Sigh again.

“That’s football in a nutshell. That’s football.”

I thought that would be it from Taylor, but he brightened, as his mentor Sean McVay would have. Taylor continued, “Criticism, pressure, adversity. We want our staff and our players to understand that this is the NFL. This is why you do this job. The energy, the camaraderie, can’t be duplicated, except maybe at the craps table in Vegas when you’re on a roll.”

The Bengals have needed some energy, and an offensive spur. I’m looking forward to seeing what Taylor can provide.

Read more from Peter King’s Football Morning in America by clicking here