The Kansas City Chiefs are coming into Monday night's showdown with the New England Patriots after an impressive road victory. Kansas City is 1-2 but very much alive in the AFC if they can take a major step toward playoff contention with a win over the favored Patriots.
This is the first time the Chiefs have hosted a Monday Night Football game since 2011, the night Philip Rivers forgot how to take a snap. In fact, it was his worst night ever. Will Monday be Tom Brady's worst night ever?
New England Patriots (-3) at Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Verderame: Chiefs 27, Patriots 24
Frankly, this is a gut feeling. The Chiefs always play very well at night in Arrowhead Stadium and appear to be getting healthy at the right time. Kansas City will be able to exploit New England's middle linebackers with Travis Kelce, while Knile Davis and Jamaal Charles will slice through holes for ample yardage. The Patriots are set up to take away receivers downfield, something the Chiefs are fine with.
Defensively, I watched the tape from New England's win over Oakland. The Patriots' offensive line is brutal, leading me to expect Dee Ford's first career sack among many others.
Joel Thorman: Patriots 24, Chiefs 23
I would love to be wrong. The Patriots are the better team right now but Arrowhead can bring it. It will be tight.
Matt Conner: Patriots 24, Chiefs 10
Simply put, I gotta see it to believe it. The injuries, the frustrating snap counts and play calls from the first couple of weeks, the Patriots. I gotta make sure this isn’t 2012 all over again.
Clay Wendler: Patriots 20, Chiefs 13
Never count out Touchdown Tom.
Seth Keysor: Chiefs 27, Patriots 17
Somewhere along the way Tom Brady stopped playing at an elite level. If any other quarterback were completing 58% of his passes while averaging a paltry 5.54 yards per attempt, people would say he's not that good. But Brady gets a pass because he's played at a high level for years. The truth is, Brady didn't play as well last year as he had in previous years, and that slippage has continued. He's still a good quarterback, but he's not "Tom Freaking Brady" anymore. And these aren't THE PATRIOTS. They're the Patriots, a team that struggled to beat Oakland and lost to a Dolphins team the Chiefs just blew out of the water. The Chiefs continue to right the ship, though that interior run defense could make it dicey.
New York Giants at Washington (-3)
Neither one of these teams are any good, but I think Washington gets it done at home. Kirk Cousins is going to be a massive story this year, when he stays in the starting lineup despite Robert Griffin returning later this year.
Pick: Washington 27, Giants 17
Carolina Panthers at Baltimore Ravens (-3)
Steve Smith is going to have a huge game against his former team, but I'm not sure that is enough. Carolina has to be embarrassed and motivated after the pounding it took on Sunday night. Cam Newton and his running backs should have a good day on the ground and will help the Panthers earn their third win.
Pick: Panthers 23, Ravens 20
This is a very intriguing game. The Bears are 2-1 but have generally looked awful. The Packers are 1-2 and perhaps are truly awful. Aaron Rodgers and the offense did nothing against the Lions, scoring seven points and crossing the 50-yard line only three times. Still, I like the Packers to bounce back and regain their footing in the NFC North.
Pick: Packers 30, Bears 24
Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans (-3)
Ryan Fitzpatrick faces his former team ... or you don't care about that either? Well, both of these teams are pretty talented but lack any talent at the quarterback position. EJ Manuel and Fitzpatrick are basically going to rifle poorly thrown passes all day until somebody takes this puppy by the reins and throws a horrendous pass which can't be topped.
Pick: Texans 20, Bills 16
Tennessee Titans at Indianapolis Colts (-9)
Indianapolis is going to pummel Tennessee. Why? Andrew Luck and his trio of talented receivers are going against Zach Mettenberger and a bunch of guys. The Titans are a bad football team which should be 0-3 if not for the Chiefs laying down due to placed bets. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I saw Ken Whisenhunt stuffing money into Andy Reid's pockets before the game.
Pick: Colts 34, Titans 17
Detroit Lions at New York Jets (EVEN)
The Jets aren't very good and lack a solid secondary. This becomes a problem when Matthew Stafford comes into town with weapons like Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, along with Reggie Bush. The Lions are going to score points and I can't fathom Geno Smith keeping pace with Eric Decker and a bunch of soon-to-be-releases.
Pick: Lions 26, Jets 17
Miami Dolphins (-3.5) at Oakland Raiders
Does this become the final stand for Ryan Tannehill? The Dolphins oddly tried to pin last week's loss against the Chiefs on Tannehill, apparently feeling it is his fault that the offensive line couldn't block and the defense almost allowed 200 rushing yards. The Raiders have been competitive in two of their games, but their offensive line will hold them back from winning this one in London.
Pick: Dolphins 23, Raiders 20
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Pittsburgh Steelers (-9)
Pittsburgh surprised me by playing so well on Sunday night. The Steelers can really run the ball behind second-year back Le'Veon Bell and have a top-notch receiver in Antonio Brown. The offense will continue to score, but will the defense hold up its end of the bargain with Ike Taylor and Jarvis Jones out for the foreseeable future? Who knows, but they will win Sunday.
Pick: Steelers 28, Buccaneers 20
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers (-14)
For once, the Chargers might not be a paper tiger. I'm still not sold that this team is winning 12 games and challenging for the Super Bowl, but San Diego is clearly a good club. Jacksonville is clearly not, and perhaps the worst team in football. I've defended Gus Bradley, but how much longer can the Jaguars look like this before he gets canned?
Pick: Chargers 30, Jaguars 17
Atlanta Falcons (-3) at Minnesota Vikings
The Falcons look awfully good on offense, making my prediction of Mike Smith as the first coach to be fired look foolish. Atlanta is going to pound Minnesota because of three things: Teddy Bridgewater's first start, no Adrian Peterson (who if he's guilty of his alleged crimes, is a complete disgrace to humanity), and because they are the Vikings.
Pick: Falcons 35, Vikings 20
Philadelphia Eagles at San Francisco 49ers (-4.5)
This is my favorite matchup of Sunday's games. Philadelphia has put up 30+ points in every game this year, but has faced three brutal defenses. Conversely, the 49ers look like hot garbage and could implode at any moment. By the way, give me Alex Smith over Colin Kaepernick every day and 38 times on Sunday. Smith isn't flashy, but Kaepernick makes crushing mistakes. He will make another one this week.
Pick: Eagles 31, 49ers 27 *PICK OF THE WEEK*
New Orleans Saints (-3) at Dallas Cowboys
Drew Brees must be looking forward to this game like it's Christmas. Dallas makes the 2003-era Chiefs defense look like the Steel Curtain hopped up on Barry Bonds-levels of HGH. I can't wait for the obligatory shot of Jerry Jones sitting in his suite, looking like he wants to take a swan dive. Good times baby, good times.
Pick: Saints 41, Cowboys 24