NFL Picks: Look For Healthy Patriots Squad To Cover ATS Over Chiefs

Jay Pryce

Monday, January 11, 2016 8:14 PM GMT

Monday, Jan. 11, 2016 8:14 PM GMT

The Patriots see a bevy of starters return, making them the healthiest they have been since Week 10. Will it be enough to slow down the streaking Chiefs? Check out our NFL pick here.

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NFL Pick: Patriots -5
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

The Patriots see a bevy of starters return, making them the healthiest they have been since Week 10. Will it be enough to slow down the streaking Chiefs? Perhaps. Check out our game pick and analysis here.

 

Kansas City Chiefs (12-5 SU, 9-8 ATS)
After starting the year 1-5 SU, K.C. enters the matchup riding an 11-game winning streak, covering the spread in eight during this stretch. Defense has been the difference-maker. The Chiefs have been top-five in points allowed in all three years under head coach Andy Reid and defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, ranking second this season (16.9). Since Week 7, in fact, the unit is allowing a measly 11.6 points per game under its classic 3-4 scheme.

On offense, K.C. excels at controlling the clock and limiting mistakes. Reid’s West Coast offense employs a short, safe passing game. QB Alex Smith allowed just seven interceptions all season and the team was second in the NFL in the regular season at plus-14 in turnovers. Turnovers are difficult to predict, but they hurt some teams more than they hurt others, particularly conservative offenses that fail to generate many points. The Chiefs are 7-1 ATS in eight games they failed to cough the ball up and 2-7 ATS when gifting one or more to opponents.

The Chiefs will likely be without receiver Jermey Maclin, who is questionable after sustaining a high ankle sprain in the team’s 30-0 rout over the Texans last weekend. Tight end Travis Kelce, therefore, is the team’s only real offensive threat in the passing game, and may find it tough against one of the leagues best covering the position. Kelce, second on the Chiefs in targets, reeled in 72 of 103 passes for 875 yards and five TDs. New England allowed just 584 yards to tight ends, second fewest in the NFL, for 9.9 yards per catch.

 

New England (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS)
New England, hobbled by injuries all season, welcome back a bevy of starters: WR Julian Edelman, WR Danny Amendola, TE Rob Gronkowski, LB Dont’a Hightower, S Patrick Chung, and more. Tom Brady’s offense limped home in the second half of the season with most of his playmakers hurt, putting up just 23.6 points thorough the team’s final eight games as opposed to 34.5 to start the year. Will the Pats need some time for their returning players to gel, or will they pick up where they left off? This is the biggest question mark for New England entering the contest.

Look for the speedy Edelman and Amendola to be Brady’s main target in short underneath routes against a group of big, physical K.C. cornerbacks. Outside of Gronkowski, Edelman is the feature piece for the offense over the last two seasons. When he is catching the ball, the unit is clicking. Since 2014, when the seven-year pro picks up seven receptions or more in a game New England averages 34 points, going 13-1 SU and 11-3 ATS. Like the Pats, the Chiefs are one of the best at covering tight ends (594 yards and three TDs on 60 receptions) and will likely give Gronkowski fits. The running game has been on life support for weeks.

The Patriots are 14-3 straight up in the playoffs under Belichick, and 7-1 when coming off a wild-card bye in the Divisional round. In these eight games, they are 4-4 against the NFL odds. For what it is worth, their four failed covers occurred in the five games that kicked off at a game total set less than 50 points.

There are a few grey areas headed into this contest that make handicapping a chore. Will the Chiefs be able to move the ball with Maclin hobbled by injury? What about New England’s patchwork O-line, can it keep Brady upright? Will Edelman be able to cut and move like before breaking his foot? The list goes on….

One has to imagine, the Pats’ offense will need some time to oil the machine, but under Belichick with a bye week, you never know. The game sets up as if it will be devoid of big plays, which may keep scoring at a minimum, making the Chiefs plus the points intriguing. Nevertheless, the Pats should win, and with the line (-5) sitting at a dead number, I’ll take a gamble that New England finds an extra score or two against an anemic K.C. offense. Take New England -5 as the sharp NFL pick.

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