Gametime: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday 9/7
Patriots -9, 48.5
After storming back from a 28-3 deficit and making history in Super Bowl 51, the Patriots come into Thursday night’s Week 1 game with history on their side – Super Bowl winners playing in the opening Thursday night game the following season have gone 14-3 straight-up and 11-4-2 against-the-spread since 2000. It’s no easy feat coming to an opponent’s home on opening night and beating them in front of a raucous crowd but the Chiefs will come into Foxborough and try to go against the odds and beat the Patriots by leaning on their defense.
The Chiefs are currently listed as 9 point underdogs and will have to play this game without starting RB Spencer Ware. Rookie RB Kareem Hunt has looked very good in preseason and will be backed up by a very competent back in Charcandrick West so the Chiefs shouldn’t miss a beat in the running game. The challenge for the Chiefs is that they don’t have enough weapons in the passing game to keep up with the Patriots – with Jeremy Maclin now in Baltimore the Chiefs have just two true weapons in the passing game in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Even with Maclin the Chiefs didn’t have enough offensive firepower to match the Pats so focusing on offense and keeping up with the Patriots offense is not a winning recipe for the Chiefs.
So what’s the gameplan for the Chiefs?
Winning at the line of scrimmage and pressuring Brady consistently without blitzing is one of the only ways the Chiefs keep this game competitive. The Chiefs strength is their front 7 – Chris Jones is a very good pass rusher on the edge and having Justin Houston healthy opposite him can put pressure on the Patriots tackles. Having Edelman in this game would be helpful for Tom Brady to be able to get rid of the ball quickly but the Patriots can make up for his loss by running the ball more at a defense that ranked 27th against the run last season. With a backfield mix of Mike Gillislee, Dion Lewis, and Rex Burkhead the Patriots will likely test the Chiefs to see if the addition of Bennie Logan at DT and Derrick Johnson’s return from injury will improve the Chiefs’ run defense. The Patriots, of course, could also feature guys like Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola in the slot more to setup big plays for Brandin Cooks and Rob Gronkowski down the field.
Here’s a look at Chris Hogan’s numbers in the slot from 2016:
Hogan was targeted 80 times in 2016. Of those 80 targets, 26 came from the slot. He caught the ball 20 of those 26 times and 9 of those catches resulted in a gain of 20+ yards. (source: Kevin Duffy)
The last time the Patriots faced the Chiefs, Edelman was targeted on 16 of Brady’s 42 passes (38.1%). The Patriots won that game 27-20.
The Chiefs will get the ball in the hands of Tyreek Hill as much as they can. The speedy WR will be the fastest player on the field and if this game is close it is most likely because Hill’s 4.24 40 speed was on display for a score or two.
Bottom line: This likely won’t be the blowout a lot of people expect as the Chiefs defense is as healthy as they’ve been in a while. Kansas City’s defense should get to Brady a few times but ultimately the Patriots have too much firepower on offense – with or without Edelman – and the G.O.A.T. should lead the Patriots to an opening night win in front of 70,000 fans waving Roger Goodell clown-faced towels.
Props to Barstool and #OperationClownFace. Ironic that the new “IT” movie is coming out this week.
Patriots win 27-16.
Numbers to note:
- Patriots are 5-2 SU and 2-2-3 ATS the last 2 seasons when favored at home by 7-9 points.
- Chiefs have lost by 9 or more just 3 times since 2015 (35 games).
- Andy Reid is 12-5 ATS as an underdog of 6.5 or more since 2000.
Sidenote: the Patriots are not an official release for a pick ATS, this is just a preview. Official picks will be marked as such throughout the season and will be rated from 1 to 5 confidence points.
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