As per tradition, the new NFL season kicks off with the defending Super Bowl champion hosting the first Thursday night game of the year. That team is, of course, New England as the Pats welcome fellow 2016 playoff club Kansas City. Here is your Sports Interaction NFL betting preview.
Kansas City Chiefs at New England Patriots
When: Thursday, 8:30 PM ET Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass. Point Spread: Patriots -9 (UPDATE: Patriots move to -10 Sept. 7)
Point Spread and Betting Analysis
On the way to winning their fifth Super Bowl title in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Era, the 2016 Patriots tied an NFL record by covering the spread in 16 games (out of 19, including playoffs). The other team to go 16-3 ATS: the 1989 San Francisco 49ers. The Patriots were 8.5-point underdogs in their 2016 season opener without Brady at the Cardinals and won that. Once Brady returned from a four-game suspension, New England was never an underdog. It went 13-2 ATS with Brady, covering the final eight. Kansas City was 9-7-1 ATS overall in 2016 and 6-2 ATS on the road – only three teams had a better away cover percentage (Pats being one).
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs finished 12-4 last year, won the AFC West and were the No. 2 seed in the AFC playoffs. So had they won their divisional-round game vs. Pittsburgh, they would have visited New England in the AFC title tilt. However, the Steelers prevailed 18-16 despite not scoring a touchdown. This off-season, the Chiefs surprisingly released No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin in a salary-cap move. The team felt the emergence of then-rookie Tyreke Hill made Maclin expendable.
In the pre-season, the Chiefs lost starting running back Spencer Ware to a season-ending injury. However, that’s perhaps not the crushing loss it might seem as Kansas City has an exciting rookie tailback in third-round pick Kareem Hunt. If you haven’t partaken in your fantasy draft yet, try to get Hunt. Kansas City has lost six straight games (2-4 ATS) at New England, most recently 27-20 in the divisional round of the playoffs on Jan. 16, 2016.
New England Patriots
At +325 to win the Super Bowl, the Patriots are the heaviest opening favourites in years. They also have easily the highest Sports Interaction win total at 12.5. And why not? Brady is 40 but played at an MVP level again last year, finishing second in the voting. The Patriots also had a great off-season, trading for the likes of Saints receiver Brandin Cooks and Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, and adding free agents such as cornerback Stephon Gilmore and running backs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead.
On paper, this team looks more talented than the 2016 club even with No. 1 receiver Julian Edelman going down to a season-ending knee injury in the pre-season. He was by far Brady’s favourite target last year with 98 receptions for 1,106 yards. The Patriots will unveil Super Bowl banner No. 5 before this game. Commissioner Roger Goodell will be in attendance at a New England regular-season home game for the first time since “Deflategate.” He will not be warmly welcomed.
Chiefs at Patriots Prediction
Kansas City won’t win but can hang within a touchdown so take the points. The Chiefs are 6-0 ATS in their past six road games.