The AFC West looks to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. Between Derek Carr, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and now Russell Wilson, it’s a who’s who of quarterbacks, which makes it difficult to predict which team could come out on top. You could make a case for every team to win the AFC West, but instead of playing the guessing game with preseason futures, I’ll be looking for in-season opportunities to … fade the Chiefs.
Kansa City was one of the worst defenses in the league last season, ranking 26th in total defense, 28th in opponent yards per play, and 30th in quarterback pressure. Still, the Chiefs went 12-5 in the regular season, crushed Pittsburgh in the wild-card game and narrowly escaped the Bills in the divisional round before losing to the Bengals in the conference championship game. In the six total losses, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's unit surrendered an average of 32 and 412 yards of total offense, including 481 yards from the Ravens in Week 2 and 475 yards from the Bengals in Week 17.
The Chiefs had a struggling defense and that was against the fifth-toughest schedule of opposing offenses. Now, the Chiefs are projected to play the third-toughest schedule of opposing offenses, which includes quarterbacks like Matthew Stafford, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Tom Brady in addition to the AFC West stars. Mahomes and Co. are projected to play the toughest schedule overall in the NFL.
I know Mahomes is good. Despite some losses, Mahomes was still elite, posting a No. 1 rating in points scored per drive, touchdowns per drive, yards per drive and plays per drive. I’m not worried about the offense. The defense has progressively gotten worse over the last few years, and it’s unlikely to see much improvement facing a tough schedule and having new pieces like rookie CB Trent McDuffie and edge George Karlaftis. This is after the team lost Tyrann Mathieu, Anthony Hitchens and Charvarius Ward this offseason.
Fade the Chiefs ATS
Mahomes may produce magic to win games, but this team is not built to cover spreads. In the last two seasons, the Chiefs are 26-7 SU but 14-19 ATS overall, 13-18 ATS as favorites, and 7-10 ATS at home. In the first seven weeks of the season, Kansas City will face Herbert and the Chargers, Carr and the Raiders, Allen and the Bills at home. The Chiefs will then, later in the season, face Stafford and Wilson, and have road games against the Bucs, 49ers, and Bengals.
During the same two-year span, the Chiefs have a 22-11 six-point teaser record. That’s a lot of juice to be paying for a two-leg teaser on a team that doesn’t hold the same strength it did back in 2019.
Perhaps Mahomes and this offense can produce enough wins for another postseason push, but I would not be putting my money on Andy Reid’s squad to cover spreads. Be wary and look for fade spots (which could be often).
Taking Chiefs under 10.5 wins (-105) is intriguing, but it is Mahomes. If I were looking for value in the futures market, it would be something at plus-money like "Chiefs to miss the playoffs” at +190.