The NFL's hottest team will visit the defending Super Bowl champions to kick off the divisional round of the playoffs Saturday, as the Kansas City Chiefs (12-5) take on the New England Patriots (12-4). The Chiefs are riding a league-best 11-game winning streak after routing the Houston Texans 30-0 last Saturday, and they are 8-3 against the spread during that stretch. The Patriots have won five of the past seven meetings.
Point spread: The Patriots opened as five-point favorites; the total was 44.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).
NFL pick, via Odds Shark computer: 21.4-17.6 Chiefs
Why the Chiefs can cover the spread
Kansas City had the best overall performance during Wild Card Weekend in snapping an eight-game postseason losing streak both straight up and against the spread. The team got off to a perfect start—Knile Davis returned the opening kickoff 106 yards for a touchdown—and never looked back while dominating all phases of the game.
Defensively, the Chiefs also played outstanding on the road, constantly pressuring Houston quarterback Brian Hoyer, who was sacked three times and threw four interceptions. That could be the difference at New England, as Kansas City's opponent has a shaky offensive line and will have a difficult time trying to stop Tamba Hali, Justin Houston and the rest of the Chiefs pass-rushers. If Patriots quarterback Tom Brady does not have enough time to throw, it will not matter who is back on the field for him.
Why the Patriots can cover the spread
New England enters the playoffs coming off consecutive losses in the last two regular-season games, but the team has a perfect 9-0 mark SU under that scenario when playing its next matchup. Fortunately, the Patriots earned a bye and will host a Kansas City squad that embarrassed them 41-14 at Arrowhead Stadium on a Monday night early last season. That game had people questioning whether New England's dynasty was over and if Brady's career was coming to an end. Of course, the Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.
Motivation has always been the driving force behind Brady and New England head coach Bill Belichick, and they will no doubt remember that loss and use it to their advantage here. The home field of Gillette Stadium can only help, as the Patriots have won the past five home meetings SU, with four of them decided by six points or more. Brady will also welcome the return of wide receiver Julian Edelman, who was his top target before breaking a bone in his foot back in Week 10 against the New York Giants.
The Chiefs are a scary team right now and one of two nobody wants to play, along with the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC. They have covered the spread in three of the past four meetings with New England and will be confident heading into Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots have also lost three of their last four games SU and ATS when favored by less than six points, so they should be on upset alert. Back Kansas City to cover.
The Chiefs are 2-5 SU in their last seven games against the Patriots.
The Chiefs are 3-1 ATS in their last four games against the Patriots.
The Patriots are 9-0 SU in their last nine games after consecutive losses.