The Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings are two of the most run-happy teams in the NFL, but are the Chiefs a viable NFL pick this Sunday without Jamaal Charles?
Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 13: 18-11 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 12-18 Total
Andy Reid has had better days. His Kansas City Chiefs are better than their 1-4 record SU and ATS would have you believe, but it hardly seems to matter now that their star player is out for the season. RB Jamaal Charles (5.1 yards per carry) suffered a torn right ACL in last week's 18-17 loss to the Chicago Bears (+10 away). Charles is second at his position this year with +78 DYAR rushing, behind only Atlanta's Devonte Freeman (+88 DYAR).
Despite this injury, the Chiefs have opened as 3.5-point road dogs for Sunday's matinee (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) against the Minnesota Vikings, who know a thing or two about losing their star running back. Adrian Peterson (5.0 yards per carry) is back to his old self, and the Vikings have been profitable thus far at 2-2 SU and 3-1 ATS. They're also coming off the bye week. Why aren't the Vikings bigger favorites this week? Should we automatically put them in our NFL picks?
Let's take a closer look at the NFL odds board first. The early consensus is indeed very much on Minnesota, at about a 2:1 ratio. We're also looking at 61 percent of bettors preferring the UNDER on the posted total of 44 points, which seems reasonable given how much both teams like to run. The Vikings have the UNDER at 4-0 this year – but the Chiefs have driven the OVER to a 4-1 record. Hmmmm.
We'll be looking at the total later this week in our never-ending quest to get to .500 on the over/under. Meanwhile, for some reason, the market thinks the Minnesota Vikings are only slightly better than the Charles-free Chiefs on neutral ground. Presumably this isn't because of any optimism surrounding Charles' replacement. That would be Charcandrick West, who went undrafted out of Abilene Christian in 2014. A converted cornerback, West has 48 yards on 12 carries this year with a couple of catches. He's an unproven commodity to say the least.
Meanwhile, the Vikings have covered each of their last three games after somehow making the San Francisco 49ers look good in the season opener. Peterson has been a big part of that, although his +40 rushing DYAR only ranks No. 11 overall through five weeks. Even worse, if you look at DVOA, Peterson falls to No. 17 overall. What gives, Football Outsiders?
Try strength of schedule. Looking at their past opponents (San Fran, Detroit, San Diego and Denver), the Vikings only rank No. 30 in this category, while the Chiefs (Houston, Denver, Green Bay, Cincinnati and Chicago) rank No. 10. Maybe Minnesota isn't really all that. We'll take a closer look at the numbers and come back later this week with our verdict.