Preseason is over and the kickoff to the 2017-18 NFL season is officially here. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will host the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium for the first game of the new season (8.30pm ET Thursday).
Considered to be whopping nine-point home favorites, which is tied for the biggest line of the week, New England also enters this season as the US sports betting websites’ pick to win it all once again.
The Patriots have the best odds at a best of +380 (5Dimes), followed behind by the Green Bay Packers (+1011, Bookmaker) and Oakland Raiders (+1678, Bookmaker). New England’s opponents on Thursday, have the ninth best odds (+2692, Bookmaker) to win the Super Bowl.
Kansas City has long since been a good team that has managed to fall just short of great, often finding ways to clutch defeat from the jaws of victory in the playoffs. Last year was no exception as the Chiefs played poorly against the Pittsburgh Steelers, losing in the first round of the postseason. But that hasn’t stopped Kansas City’s belief that they have the team in place to make a deep run in the playoffs.
The biggest things to look for from Kansas City include getting more production out of Tyreek Hill, who is expected to become an every down player in 2017. Hill is one of the most dangerous young wide receivers in football because of his explosive ability out of the backfield and when it comes to the misdirection plays that are a hallmark of head coach Andy Reid’s offense.
Another thing to watch for is Kansas City’s running game. The Chiefs were set to open the year with Spencer Ware, who led the team in yards per catch last season with over 13. However, Ware injured his knee in the preseason and will be out for all of 2017-18. Ware was a perfect fit for the screen game the Chiefs like to employ and his absence could very well be a factor this season.
Without Ware, look for the Chiefs to turn more toward their tight ends, of which Kansas City has three who can line up anywhere and cause problems for opposing defenses. Travis Kelce is the leader of this unit but he too is hampered by injury and may not be 100 percent going into Thursday’s game. Without Kelce, the Chiefs offense definitely suffers so his performance will be worth keeping an eye on.
While the Chiefs have reasons to like their offense, Thursday night can really be seen as the prime example of, “anything KC can do, New England does better.”
I mentioned Kelce for Kansas City but no team has a better tight end than the Patriots. Rob Gronkowski is far and away the best at his position in the league and has been one of the stalwarts of New England’s lethal offense over the past several years. Gronkowski played just eight games last year and posted career lows in all offensive categories and was also absent in the playoffs. But that’s how good New England is. Even without their best player, this team is still tough to contend with.
The Patriots should have Gronkowski back at full health this year, which will be important, especially because they’ve lost Julian Edelman for the season. Edelman was a big part of what New England did last year and his absence will be felt. However, the Patriots have long succeeded with a next man up strategy. Expect that to continue this year.
The biggest reasons for New England’s success however are the tandem of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The head coach-QB duo has established one of football’s greatest dynasties and somehow, over 15 years later, haven’t lost a single step. Brady turned 40 in August but shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, just last year, Brady’s 17th in the league, he helmed an offense which led the AFC in points per drive. Brady also posted his best postseason numbers since 2014, finishing with seven touchdowns (3rd highest in his career) and a career-best 1,137 passing yards.
Home Sweet Home Field Advantage
In 2004, the NFL began the tradition of having the Super Bowl winners host the first game of the season. In those last 13 years, the defending champs have lost just once, in 2012, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants. In that 13 year span, the Patriots have hosted this home opening contest twice, winning both games, but not by large margins.
New England defeated the Raiders in 2005 by 10 points and the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2015 by seven points. That puts their average margin of victory at 8.5, which falls just under the projected spread for this Thursday.
In addition to the Patriots’ recent track record at Gillette in their season openers as the defending champions, there is also another astounding stat which follows New England and that’s the team’s home record against the AFC in the Tom Brady era. The longtime signal caller for the Patriots, Brady has lost just once against an AFC opponent at home in his last 51 home games. That loss came in 2014 against the Buffalo Bills, in a game where Brady actually sat out the second half.
Needless to say, home field advantage will certainly play into this one but it’s not the only reason why this preview would advise betting the Patriots and the points on Thursday night.
In 2016, the Patriots were 13-3 against the spread during the regular season for the best such record of all 32 NFL teams. While impressive and trendworthy in its own right, what’s also worth noting is just how high those spreads New England beat actually were. New England faced favorable spreads all season long, including six of which were by six or more points. The Patriots covered all but two.
Our Preview’s Kansas City Chiefs vs New England Patriots Betting Picks & Predictions
As mentioned earlier in this preview, New England is staked as nine-point favorites for this home opening Thursday night game. While this may seem high given Kansas City is really not a bad team, that just goes to show how lethal New England really is. The Patriots have a great SU track record at home and a pretty strong one ATS as well. So with that in mind these are our betting predictions and picks:
- Bet on the Patriots -9pts @ best odds of -105 with 5Dimes Sportsbook. It is -110 with the likes of Intertops and Bookmaker and -115 with most others.
- Look for a points total for the game above the 48.5 points mark @ -110 with 5Dimes or Intertops. The odds are worse or the mark is at 49pts with most other firms.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.