New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs (-3)
Sun. 1/20, 6:40 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Patriots-Chiefs:
1. While Kansas City’s primary strength is a passing game that led the NFL with 8.8 yards per attempt during the regular season, New England is 7-0 straight up and 6-1 against the spread since the start of 2016 when facing an opponent that’s averaging at least 7.5 yards per pass attempt. The Patriots are 8-2 against the spread (9-1 straight up) in that same time frame when facing an opponent that’s averaging at least 260 passing yards per game. New England has also consistently beaten up on teams that struggle defensively, going 18-2 straight up and 16-4 against the spread since the start of 2016 when facing an opponent that’s allowing an average of at least 350 yards per game.
2. Kansas City’s win over Indianapolis in the Divisional Round was impressive, and it was arguably even more dominant than the relatively lopsided 31-13 final score indicated. The performance makes it difficult to put much stock in the Chiefs’ 2-11 record (both straight up and against the spread) over its past 13 playoff games dating back to January 1994 (which includes a 1-6 mark in home games), primarily because quarterback Patrick Mahomes gives Kansas City a far more dynamic playmaker at the game’s most important position than the team has ever had. But after having begun the 2018 regular season with seven consecutive against-the-spread victories, the Chiefs ended it by going 2-6-1 ATS over their final nine games. That nine-game stretch included only four games against teams that ended 2018 with a winning record, and Kansas City went just 1-3 straight up and 0-3-1 ATS over those four contests, with the lone straight-up victory being a 27-24 overtime win as a 6.5-point home favorite against Baltimore. The Chiefs’ only ATS victory over its last five home games of 2018 came in the season finale against an Oakland squad that was coming off a short week and finished with a 4-12 record.
3. A lot will be made about New England’s drastic home/road split, as the Patriots are 9-0 straight up at home and 3-5 on the road this season. In their lone road game against an opponent that reached the playoffs, however, New England handed Chicago its only home loss of the season in Week 7, 38-31—it was the most points the Bears allowed all season. The Patriots certainly showed signs in their convincing win over the Chargers on Sunday of returning to their dominant ways on the offensive side of the ball. Since the start of 2016, New England is 7-0 against the spread on the road when coming off a game in which the team scored 35 or more points, and the Patriots are 12-1 against the spread in that same time frame when coming off a game in which they had a turnover margin of +2 or better.
Pick: Patriots +3
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)