Are the Kansas City Chiefs blossoming for bettors as an NFL version of the LSU Tigers?
Through the latter stages of the season, LSU reached a level of play that might never have been seen in college football: Exquisite, virtually unstoppable execution led by star quarterback Joe Burrow. Aggressive play-calling. A defense that had learned to disrupt opponents and get stops. And a string of victories that crushed market expectations as so-called experts behind the counter and sharps kept insisting the public was overreacting to blowout scores.
LSU’s gravy train for backers didn’t stop until the season ended.
Kansas City is less extreme but has been cashing tickets consistently since mid-November. The Chiefs have won seven straight, going 6-0-1 against the spread. They won at New England by a touchdown in a double-digit cover. They steamrolled Houston last week 51-7 in the final 40 minutes after digging an early hole.
Great execution featuring an elite quarterback? Check. Aggressive play-calling? Check. A defense that figured things out? Check. Strength of schedule is a potential red flag. K.C. isn’t crushing consecutive powers the way LSU was. But in the AFC championship game against Tennessee (3:05 p.m. Sunday, CBS), the Chiefs are facing only a wild-card team that was outgained in its two playoff victories.
Nobody would be shocked if Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs run the table just like Burrow and LSU.
Normally, we’d post the stat box we’ve been using throughout the football postseason. But both teams are playing better in recent weeks than their full-season rankings would imply. Kansas City is superior across the board, but Tennessee has proven its playoff legitimacy.
— The case for Kansas City: The explosive Chiefs are much better rested. If Tennessee’s defense loses its legs, this will be a rout. Tennessee and Houston are comparable in team quality. K.C. gained 7.6 yards per play on offense vs. Houston and scored touchdowns on seven of eight red-zone opportunities.
— The case for Tennessee: The Titans hope to hang tough by continuing the run-heavy game plan that has positioned them for upsets. Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been needed much yet, but he is capable of coming through the back door with garbage-time passing if the team is down 10 to 14 points in the final minutes.
Betting through the week has shown Kansas City support at -7, which flips to Tennessee at 7.5. Sharps are traditionally dog lovers in big TV games. But they will take Kansas City -1.5 in two-team six-point teasers with San Francisco in the NFC title game. Basic strategy for teasers is to take every opportunity to cross both key numbers of 3 and 7 in one fell swoop. Sharps and squares alike will love the Sunday combo of Kansas City -1.5 and San Francisco -1.5.
While it’s generally true that recreational bettors fall in love too easily with favorites, many great teams have peaked in the playoffs. Bettors must determine whether Kansas City will be next on that list.