Patriots vs. Chiefs Odds & Picks: Your Guide To Betting Monday Night Football
Getty Images. Pictured: Bill Belichick, Patrick Mahomes
Patriots vs. Chiefs Odds
How many times have the New England Patriots been underdogs of seven or more points over the last 20 years?
This is unfamiliar territory for the Patriots as they head on the road to face Patrick Mahomes and a high flying Kansas City Chiefs offense that’s coming off a 34-20 thrashing of the Baltimore Ravens last Monday night. Complicating that is the fact that the Patriots will also be without the services of Cam Newton, who tested positive for COVID-19, causing this game to be postponed and rescheduled for Monday night.
With veteran Brian Hoyer expected to start, can the Patriots thrive in their newfound role as underdogs, or will the defending Super Bowl champion Chiefs continue to assert their dominance?
With this spread moving from Chiefs -7 to -10.5 after the postponement and quarterback change, there could be value on the Pats at the right price. Let’s take a closer look.
New England Patriots
This game took a significant turn when it was announced Newton had tested positive for COVID-19.
Newton was the engine that powered a dominant New England rushing attack that leads the league in rushing, averaging 178 yards per game on the ground with a 57% success rate. Providing a dual-threat element that’s been absent for Patriots offenses over the past 20 years, Newton has rushed for 149 yards and four touchdowns on a league-leading 35 attempts for quarterbacks.
Although Hoyer isn’t the same dual threat as Newton, you have to assume the Patriots will stick with the ground game against a Chiefs defense that gives up 5.3 yards per rush and allows a 53% rushing success rate, 30th among all NFL teams.
In their Week 3 matchup against the Raiders, the Patriots ran the ball 38 times and controlled the time of possession 34:39 to 25:21. By comparison, after a run-heavy opening drive, the Ravens ran the ball just 21 times, holding the ball for 26:04 in Monday night’s loss to the Chiefs. James White’s return should provide a spark to a New England offense and you can expect offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to come up with a game plan to exploit weaknesses that Baltimore didn’t.
In 12 seasons as a pro, the 34-year-old Hoyer is 16-22 as a starter, completing 59.1% of his passes while throwing 52 touchdowns and 34 interceptions. He’s started just one game since 2017, and it was for the Colts in 2019. Hoyer went 18-of-39 for 204 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in a 16-12 loss to the Dolphins in that start. Hoyer also started in the Texans’ 30-0 loss in the Wild Card Round of the 2015 playoffs against the Chiefs, throwing 15-of-34 for 136 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions.
This isn’t particularly encouraging, but it’s worth noting the difference in coaching and organizational quality between the Patriots and some of the teams Hoyer has started for in the past such as the Texans, Browns, Cardinals and Colts — none of those teams have Bill Belichick and McDaniels, and while it’s not particularly quantifiable, that counts for something.
Look for Hoyer to lead a methodical short passing and run-heavy attack, controlling the pace to keep Mahomes and the Chiefs offense off the field.
After a historic 2019 season, New England’s defense was expected to take a step back through natural regression and key departures of Danny Shelton, Elandon Roberts, Jamie Collins, Kyle Van Noy and Duron Harmon. Then star linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns.
Needless to say, the Patriots aren’t the same defense as they were last season, allowing a 58% success rate on runs (24th) and a 59% success rate on passing plays (31st), down from 43% (sixth) and 38% (first) respectively. Although New England is just 22nd in points allowed (22 points per game), the Patriots are eighth in yards per play (6.2), sixth in net yards per attempt (7.4) and 26th in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA.
This defense is vulnerable, and both the Seahawks and Raiders have proved it can be beaten through the air — had the Raiders not turned the ball over three times via fumbles last week, they would have had a shot at winning.
That said, New England’s defense has taken a step forward in defending tight ends.
After a catching 12 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown against the Saints on Monday Night Football, the Patriots held Raiders tight end Darren Waller to just nine yards on two catches. They also held Miami’s Mike Gesicki well below his season averages with just three catches for 30 yards. The Patriots have had success defending Travis Kelce in the past, as he’s averaged just 65 yards per game against them, which is lower than his averages against the 31 other teams.
Despite not being the same defense as last season, the Patriots have proven they can remove a team’s first option. And they should have a chance to shut down Tyreek Hill given his past struggles against Stephon Gilmore — Hill has not caught a pass in four games in which Gilmore was the nearest defender in coverage as highlighted by ESPN’s Adam Teicher.
Kansas City Chiefs
With lackluster performances against the Texans and Chargers, it appeared the Chiefs were in the midst of a Super Bowl hangover. Newsflash: The Kansas City Chiefs are still the team to beat in the AFC.
Mahomes completed 31-of-42 passes for four touchdowns with a 133.5 passer rating on the way to a 34-20 victory over the Ravens, who many believed were the best team in the NFL.
The Chiefs entered last week’s game 22nd in explosive play rate and dead last in explosive pass rate in 2020. They were also 26th in net yards per pass pass attempt at just 6.1. Nevertheless, they answered all critics as they finished with 9.2 yards per pass against Baltimore, seeing their explosive play rate (plays of 20 or more yards) go from 22nd to 15th with their net yards per attempt going from 22nd to 12th (7.1) in just one week.
Although Mahomes has been Superman against most of the league, the Patriots have been his kryptonite as he’s just 1-2 against them and has a significantly worse Pro Football Focus grade in three games against them compared to the rest of the league:
Patrick Mahomes career PFF grades:
vs. Patriots: 63.8 (3 games)
vs. rest of the NFL: 95.0 (36 games) pic.twitter.com/VpQLBs03Bf
— PFF (@PFF) October 1, 2020
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones is questionable with a groin injury, and if he can’t go, the Chiefs will be without the defender who owns PFF’s highest pass rush grade, is second in sacks (3.5), has two forced fumbles and has 13 quarterback pressures — more than Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack.
Nonetheless, the Chiefs defense will have its work cut out stopping this Patriots rushing attack.
In addition, Kansas City placed rookie corner L’Jarius Sneed on IR with a collarbone injury. This is still a unit that is down Bashaud Breeland, who is serving his forth and final game of suspension, in addition to Charvarius Ward and Antonio Hamilton, who are injured. Given how snake-bitten the Chiefs are at cornerback, their offense will have to remain as explosive as it was in Week 3 as opposed to what we saw over the first two weeks of the season.
The underdog role isn’t a familiar position for the Patriots, but it’s served them well: Since 2006, they’re 20-6 against the spread (ATS) as road underdogs while Belichick is 44-20-1 (68.6%) ATS all-time when catching points.
I’m not a big trends guy, but the Patriots’ ability to over-perform the market speaks to Belichick’s coaching prowess, and thus there could be value on them here — even against a Chiefs team that can score at will.
The Patriots don’t have an answer for the Chiefs, no one does. But that doesn’t mean the Chiefs will beat every team by 14 points, either. On the flip side, they don’t have an answer for New England’s rushing attack and they are vulnerable at cornerback. The Ravens couldn’t exploit this, but the Patriots should be able to, even without Newton.
Given how Kansas City has performed through its first three games, I consider Week 3 as a bit of an aberration — it was a perfect storm of Baltimore abandoning a working game plan on offense and getting beat on the back end defensively.
The market is saying that Newton is three to four points better than Hoyer, and while New England will miss the quarterback run element, I think Hoyer can do enough to keep the Patriots inside of the number. At the current price of 10.5 this is a pass for me, but should this get to 13, I’ll be ready to buy in.
The public will overwhelming bet the Chiefs, so I recommend waiting until closer to game time to see where this number lands before jumping on the Patriots with the points.
LEAN: Patriots +13 or better