The Kansas City Chiefs are home team underdogs this week. Who would have predicted that the preseason co-favorite to win the AFC this year would be a point spread home underdog by midseason? What’s next, the Patriots getting points in Foxboro?
Well, if Tom Brady were to be knocked out of action with an injury and the 6-1 Green Bay Packers were headed to meet them … maybe. But, the Chiefs are a much more likely candidate to get points on the spread without their star quarterback for a couple huge reasons.
First, of course, is that Patrick Mahomes will miss his first game since taking over as the Chiefs starting quarterback on the final day of the 2017 season. In those 26 starts, the Chiefs have been favored in all 14 games played at Arrowhead Stadium. In those 14 contests, Mahomes had led Kansas City to straight-up wins in nine of the first ten games, but, beginning with last January's loss to the Patriots in the playoffs, Mahomes is 1-3 at home straight-up including losses in the two most recent home games, against the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
Having the Chiefs a home underdog is not so unlikely when you know the facts of his play since the Chiefs burst on the scene with Mahomes as a starting quarterback winning 10 of his first 11 NFL starts.
So, what happened to the Chiefs, and why do they have a losing record against the point spread with Mahomes as the starter since midseason last year? First, the Chiefs opened the 2018 campaign with seven straight point spread wins, which means the books were losing money every week while the public was becoming more and more comfortable betting on Kansas City no matter what the spread was.
The books know how to turn public sentiment into their favor. The Chiefs continued to win most of their games straight-up, they are 12-6 beginning at mid-season last year, but their record was reduced by the point spreads posted by the books to a losing 7-10-1. This week, the public has turned on the Chiefs like a bully attacks an adversary showing weakness.
With Mahomes sidelined, and the Packers coming in sporting a 6-1 mark and a healthy Aaron Rodgers, the books installed Green Bay a three point favorite at Arrowhead Stadium. That wasn’t enough for the public, who have piled on the Packers side of this wager to the tune of nearly 70% and driven the spread up two points. The Chiefs are currently getting five points at home for their game against Green Bay.
What we have here, for the first time in over a year, is a Chiefs team challenged on their home field while looking at the prospect of actually losing. The mystique of Mahomes breaking another passing record while putting up 40 or 50 points is replaced with the need for everyone to play their best to compensate for his loss.
Now, some will say when the Chiefs go into the bag of needing something other than Mahomes to win, their pickings are rather slim. No one has ever placed the Chiefs defense as the reason for their success, but rather counted on Mahomes to outscore opponents. And no one came into this season thinking Matt Moore was anything but a veteran backup quarterback that Kansas City hoped would never be called on for duty other than mopping up for a game already securely in the Chiefs favor.
But, life happens, shoots point blank on all of us every day. In the NFL, those highs and lows are on a stage for all to see and evaluate. And while most football followers think the loss of Mahomes is a detriment to the Chiefs chances this week, I contend that the need to compensate for his loss more than makes up for his departure.
I know Kansas City is not interested in working too long without their star quarterback doing his thing. But this Sunday night, after the books installed them three point underdogs and the public tagged on two more points, the Chiefs are in a positive motivational spot for the first time in more than a year.
As for the Packers, they think they are going to come into Arrowhead and hand the Chiefs a third straight home loss … they are not.
Qoxhi Picks: Kansas City Chiefs (+5) over Green Bay Packers