NFL Picks: Bet Well-Rested & Healthier Vikings -4 vs. Chiefs

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 15, 2015 5:49 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015 5:49 PM UTC

The Kansas City Chiefs were already having trouble beating the NFL odds. Now they'll have to face the Minnesota Vikings without their heart and soul on offense – and defense.

Jason's 2015 record as of Oct. 14: 18-11 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 12-18 Total

Uh-oh. The Kansas City Chiefs have just lost arguably the most important player on the team. That's right, we're talking about NT Dontari Poe. The two-time Pro Bowler suffered a high-ankle sprain in last week's 18-17 defeat at the hands of the Chicago Bears (+10 away). Poe didn't seem to know he was injured until the day after the game. He didn't practice Wednesday and could miss the next several weeks.

What, you were expecting RB Jamaal Charles? Yes, he's hurt too, but you knew that already. So did everyone else. The Poe injury hasn't generated nearly as much ink. This is why we're happy to recommend the Minnesota Vikings for Sunday's matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) at TCF Bank Stadium. The Vikings are 4-point home favorites on the NFL odds board at press time, up from –3.5 at the open, and two-thirds of bettors are still pounding Minnesota, albeit in light action.


Happy Feet
Not to diminish the quality of Charles' performance, but running back is one of the most overvalued positions on the football field. Remember how the Vikings had to do without Adrian Peterson for most of last year? They still finished fourth overall in run efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, with Matt Asiata (3.5 yards per carry) and Jerick McKinnon (4.8 yards per carry) carrying the load.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid summed it up best when he explained why RB Charcandrick West will be starting in Charles' place this week, ahead of Knile Davis. “(Charles) and (West) were closer together than what Knile was as far as the quick moves,” Reid told reporters on Monday, “you know, the feet and dancing and all of that stuff.” Reid has a system, and he's sticking with it.


Howard's Nose
Of course, there's a system on defense as well, and it's not like the Chiefs don't have anyone who can lace up Poe's shoes. Jaye Howard was given the starting gig this year while Poe was recovering from offseason back surgery; Howard was a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida in 2012, and has helped Kansas City stay firm against the run this year. Football Outsiders has the Chiefs D-line ranked No. 10 in overall run blocking and No. 1 in squashing third-and-short or fourth-and-short conversion attempts.

Well done, but Poe was taking more of the snaps as the year progressed. He'll be missed on Sunday against Minnesota's No. 6-ranked rushing offense, yet the betting public isn't likely to give Poe's absence much notice when they make their NFL picks this week. Let's try not to make the same mistake. Color us purple, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

NFL Picks: Take the Vikings –4 (–102) at Pinnacle

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