For the first time in what seems like forever, the Kansas City Chiefs are coming off a fantastic win over a good team with a future-Hall of Fame quarterback. The Chiefs punished New England on Monday night, and now travel to California to take on the San Francisco 49ers in Levi's Stadium. This will be the first time Alex Smith plays his former team, so this will be a good one.
Here are a few quick-hitters to think about going into the weekend.
-The Chiefs rank 16th in yards per game; the 49ers are 19th.
-The Chiefs are fourth in rushing yards per game at 145.3; the 49ers are seventh at 138.5.
-Both Kansas City and San Francisco are tied for fifth in third-down conversion rate at 50 percent.
-The Chiefs have taken the fourth-fewest penalties with 18; the 49ers have taken the most with 46.
-Kansas City's defense is third on third down, allowing a 33.3 percent conversion rate; San Francisco is 21st at 47.7.
The moral of all this? Don't underestimate your own team, they're good.
Onto the picks...
Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers (-7)
Matt Verderame: Chiefs 20, 49ers 17
The Chiefs are simply playing really, really good football right now. Kansas City has confidence and it shows, something that elevates every player to greater heights. The difference in this game will be who can control the other team's ground attack. Kansas City needs to limit Frank Gore and contain Colin Kaepernick. Conversely, the Chiefs will have to rely on the two-headed monster of Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles. I want to see Anthony Sherman early and often in this game. It's going to be a throwback to the 1990's when teams lined up and hammered away. This will come down to the very end, and Kansas City's confidence gets it over the top.
Joel Thorman: 49ers 24, Chiefs 23
Picking against the Chiefs worked last week. Why not try it again?
Seth Keysor: Chiefs 31, 49ers 17
I understand that the Niners are a better defensive team than the Patriots when at full strength. But the thing is, they're not. Their secondary is actually significantly worse-off than the Patriots. Navarro Bowman is not walking through that door Sunday. Neither is Aldon Smith. Yes, they've done pretty well for themselves so far defensively. But what happened on Monday night was not a fluke. Andy Reid rolled out formations and play calls even Chief fans hadn't anticipated, and showed he's willing to build the offense around Travis Kelce and a brutal ground game featuring the best backfield in the NFL. It's a whole new Andy Reid, baby.
Clay Wendler: 49ers 28, Chiefs 14
The 49ers receivers against KC's secondary scares me.
Matt Conner: 49ers 33, Chiefs 30
I want to believe. I believe more than I did. I’ll believe a lot more if they can march into Levi’s Stadium and pull off the win. There was enough of a team-already-limping versus New England on Monday. Sorry, I just still have a bit of Tennessee-flavored aftertaste in my mouth.
Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers (-9.5)
Green Bay got back on track last weekend with a resounding win over the Bears at Soldier Field. There is no way Aaron Rodgers and the boys take a step back against the Vikings at home in primetime. I like Teddy Bridgewater, but he is going to have a tough time beating the Packers in this spot with limited weapons.
Pick: Packers 30, Vikings 20
Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers (-2.5)
This is a very intriguing game. The Panthers are the more talented team but have played ugly football the last two weeks. Conversely, the Bears could easily be 0-4 but have done just enough to have a 2-2 mark. Frankly, I'll roll with Carolina because its home and due to play decently.
Pick: Panthers 23, Bears 20
Houston Texans at Dallas Cowboys (-7)
Dallas was very impressive last Sunday against the Saints, destroying New Orleans from the outset. Houston is off to semi-surprising start but has yet to beat anybody worth talking about. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a lousy quarterback, and Tony Romo isn't. There is the difference in this one.
Pick: Cowboys 31, Texans 19
Buffalo Bills at Detroit Lions (-9)
The Lions look like a contender, although Jim Caldwell still horrifies me like a white guy hitting the dance floor. Detroit is playing great defense and has a bevy of offensive weaponry, led by Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. Then there is Buffalo, led by Doug Marrone and Kyle Orton. Okay then.
Pick: Lions 35, Bills 16
Baltimore Ravens at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
Of all the early games, this is the best matchup. Indianapolis will exploit a lousy Baltimore secondary while the Ravens will have a field day attacking the Colts defense. The big question here is if Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata can be held at bay by Indianapolis' offensive line. If not, Andrew Luck will be sore Monday, and sad.
Pick: Colts 27, Ravens 24
Pittsburgh sustained perhaps the worst loss of any team this year, losing to the winless Buccaneers at home in the final seconds. There is no way a team coach by Mike Tomlin loses to Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in consecutive weeks. The Jaguars are horrendous and likely are staring down the barrel at another top-three pick this spring.
Pick: Steelers 33, Jaguars 17
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (-11)
How is the line this high? New Orleans has played like hot garbage every game this year including in its lone win over the Vikings. Tampa Bay stinks, but has a good coach and better talent than most realize. The Buccaneers won't win, but this will be closer than expected ... unless it isn't.
Pick: Saints 31, Buccaneers 26
Atlanta Falcons at New York Giants (-4.5)
The Falcons have three offensive linemen out for the season. Even before the injuries, the line was a major question mark. Now? Atlanta is going to have a very difficult team beating anybody with a decent defense. The Giants can play ball and Jason Pierre-Paul looks like the old Pierre-Paul. Scary times for Matt Ryan.
Pick: Giants 27, Falcons 13
St. Louis Rams at Philadelphia Eagles (-7.5)
Philadelphia is coming off a tough loss and returning home to face a team with zero ability on offense. LeSean McCoy has been averaging barely over a yard per carry the past two weeks, and that is bound to change. The Rams will cause issues with their excellent defensive front, but it won't be enough.
Pick: Eagles 24, Rams 15
Cleveland Browns at Tennessee Titans (No Line)
Just seeing the name "Tennessee Titans" makes me sad. Since this game sucks, let's skip to the prediction.
Pick: Browns 20, Titans 17
Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos (-8)
It would be great if the Cardinals could walk into Mile High and knock off the Broncos. However, that is not happening with Drew Stanton leading the charge. Stanton is a decent backup but he isn't going to be enough to top the Denver Mannings. It could stay close, but Arizona finally falls.
Pick: Broncos 27, Cardinals 21 *PICK OF THE WEEK*
New York Jets at San Diego Chargers (-7)
The Jets are a rancid mess with Geno Smith tossing interceptions as though it's for charity. New York's secondary isn't much better, setting up for a Philip Rivers masterpiece. I hope I'm wrong, I really do, but this game reeks of a major blowout. One can only hope Rex Ryan comes up with a confusing scheme.
Pick: Chargers 34, Jets 16
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots (EVEN)
Damn, the Patriots looked bad last week. Who were they playing again, some team in all red, right? Oh yeah, the Kansas City Chiefs. All that said, New England is going to bounce back at home. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are humiliated and won't allow it to happen twice. We will also see the difference between Alex Smith and Andy Dalton.
Pick: Patriots 23, Bengals 20
Seattle Seahawks (-8.5) at Washington
Seattle is going to beat Washington to the point where people are already calling for Jay Gruden to be replaced by anybody other than Jim Zorn. Hell, even Zorn might get a look. The Seahawks are coming off a bye week and get to have the Legion of Boom square off against Kirk Cousins. Put the children to bed early and save them the horror.
Pick: Seahawks 29, Washington 9
Last Week: 7-6