NFL experts pegged the Vikings & Chiefs as playoff teams in 2015. Maybe that can still happen for the Vikes, but not KC. Minnesota is a 3.5-point home favorite on the NFL odds board.
Devastating Injury For Chiefs
The Chiefs not only are not going to the playoffs -- after just missing last year at 9-7 -- but they might now be the worst team in the AFC because their best offensive player by far, Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, was been lost for the season to a torn ACL. There is probably no team in the league more reliant on one offensive player who isn't a quarterback than Kansas City is on Charles.
Kansas City (1-4) lost its fourth straight game Sunday, 18-17 at home to a pretty bad Chicago Bears team. The Bears did little offensively for much of the game but cut the score to 17-12 on a Jay Cutler pass to Marquess Wilson with 3:05 left; the two-point try failed. Chicago won it on a 7-yard pass from Cutler to Matt Forte with 18 seconds left.
Not coincidentally, the Chiefs led 17-3 before Charles went down. He was injured without contact while making a cut. Charles had 58 yards rushing on 12 carries and one catch for 26 yards. On the season, he has carried 71 times for 364 yards and four scores while catching 21 balls for 177 yards and a touchdown. How important is Charles to Kansas City? Over the last three seasons (Charles also tore his ACL in 2011), the only team more reliant on a player to gain yardage from scrimmage was the Bears with Forte (31.2 percent of team's yardage). Charles is second at 30.9 percent. He leads the league since 2012 with 38 touchdowns and has 32 games with 100 yards of scrimmage since then. Among active players, his 53 career 100-yard scrimmage games are 3rd among active players at the time of their 100th career game, trailing Adrian Peterson (61) and Forte (56).
Now the Chiefs turn most likely to undrafted Charcandrick West. He had seven carries for 31 yards Sunday and spent most of last season on the Chiefs practice squad coming out of little Abilene Christian. Kansas City also has Knile Davis, but he had fallen behind West on the depth chart. I'm not sure the Chiefs will alter their offense much because QB Alex Smith is mediocre at best and either can't or won't throw downfield. Smith's rating of 88.1 is 20th in the NFL.
The Chiefs are 1-4 against the spread on NFL odds this season and 4-1 'over/under.
Vikings Off Bye Week
Probably the team closest to Kansas City in terms of being so hugely reliant on one offensive player who isn't a quarterback would be the Vikings with Peterson. You knew Peterson was going to have a huge chip on his shoulder this season after being suspended all but one game last year for an off-field issue involving punishment of his young son. Peterson certainly is a leading candidate for Comeback Player of the Year as he has rushed 75 times for 372 yards and three scores.
Second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater is having a decent season, completing 67.0 percent of his passes for 774 yards, two scores and two picks. New addition Mike Wallace leads the team with 20 catches and 233 yards. But this is certainly a run-first club with Peterson.
There will be a new defensive starter for Minnesota in this game as rookie Eric Kendricks will get the call at middle linebacker. A spot opened for the former Butkus Award winner from UCLA when the team traded linebacker Gerald Hodges to San Francisco for center Nick Easton and a sixth-round pick last week.
Minnesota (2-2) almost surely isn't going to win the NFC North with the Packers in that division so the Vikings have to think wild card. And this game starts a stretch where Minnesota could go on a run. After the Chiefs, the Vikes go to winless Detroit, visit Chicago, host St. Louis and visit Oakland. Alas, the Vikings are 0-2 on the road this year. They have won both home games (Lions, Chargers) by double digits.
The Vikings are 3-1 ATS on NFL picks and 0-4 OU.
Minnesota has lost two straight in the series and hasn't hosted Chiefs since 2003. Kansas City prevailed 22-17 in the last meeting on Oct. 2, 2011. Matt Cassel was the Chiefs' starter then -- he would eventually play the for Vikings as well -- and threw for 260 yards and a touchdown. Donovan McNabb was the Vikings' QB. Peterson rushed 23 times for 80 yards.