BetOnline went a step further and officially crowned the Chiefs as AFC West champions Tuesday, paying out all division futures early on Kansas City, which was -350 at the offshore sportsbook before the season started.
“With the way the AFC West is unfolding, we felt very comfortable moving forward and rewarding Chiefs bettors early,” BetOnline manager Dave Mason said in a statement. “The only way Kansas City doesn’t come out on top is if Andy Reid eats too many hamburgers or Patrick Mahomes suffers a season-ending injury, and nobody wants to see that.”
In the intervening 16 years, only four teams began the campaign following their Super Bowl triumphs as the bookmakers’ favorite—or joint-favorite in Kansas City’s case—to win back-to-back titles. The Seattle Seahawks were 9/2 favourites in 2014, while the Patriots were 11/4 and 4/1 favorites at the beginning of the 2017 and 2019 seasons respectively.
Significantly, the Patriots in 2017 were the only defending champion who made it as far as the Super Bowl.
“Only one of those champions—the Patriots in Super Bowl LII—made it to the Super Bowl showing just how difficult it is for a team to sustain their dominance in the NFL,” a Unikrn spokesperson told Newsweek.
If history spells out how difficult it is to win back-to-back Super Bowls, it also offers the Chiefs some reasons to be optimistic as each of the last back-to-back winners began the season among the bookmakers’ top-two favorites.
Las Vegas (2-2) at Kansas City (4-0)
1 p.m. ET (CBS)
Point spread: Chiefs -13
Another game that’s absolutely a “maybe” on being played this week, thanks to COVID-19 concerns with both teams. The Raiders have had a positive test — and have been disciplined for attending a Darren Waller charity function without masks and while intermingling with fans — and the Chiefs just played the Patriots. The last time we saw Patrick Mahomes, he was getting an on-field hug from Stephon Gilmore, who has since tested positive for coronavirus. There’s plenty of reason to believe the NFL might postpone this game with all that’s going on. If it is played and everyone is healthy, I would expect the Chiefs to go wild here. Andy Reid dominates the Raiders against the spread, going 10-4 ATS since arriving in KC in 2013. The Chiefs are on a HEATER right now, going 11-1-1 in their last 13 games against the spread as well.
Pick: Chiefs 42, Raiders 21
4 - Patrick Mahomes
Kansas City Chiefs · Year 4
2020 stats: 4 games | 67.3 pct | 1,134 pass yds | 7.6 ypa | 11 pass TD | 0 INT | 108 rush yds | 1 rush TD | 0 fumbles lost
It was a treat to watch New England’s Bill Belichick spending Monday evening trying yet again to thwart the golden child. Mahomes is one of the most talented and accomplished young quarterbacks the NFL has ever seen. Belichick might be the smartest football mind, period. The Chiefs have gone without a touchdown in the opening half only three times in the Mahomes era, per NFL Research. All three of those instances came at the hand of Belichick. When Mahomes is in the zone, though, not even Belichick can stop him — as New England saw when Mahomes racked up 31 points in the final 30 minutes of the 2018 AFC Championship Game.
Bold prediction: Carr will not be picked off and will extend his interception-free streak to nine games. The last time Carr was intercepted was Dec. 1, 2019, when he was picked off twice ... at Arrowhead Stadium. But he is completing passes at a 73.6% clip this season with short, safe throws, and he will have to control the ball to keep Mahomes off the field. — Paul Gutierrez
Around the NFL
“We have seen multiple occasions where head coaches have removed their masks to communicate with game officials during games,” Fewell wrote in the memo. “Doing so creates unnecessary, increased risk for the game official, the head coach, and others, and is inconsistent with the requirement that face coverings be worn at all times. ... Consistent with all other individuals on the sideline, game officials are entitled to your respect as they perform their job duties during the pandemic.”
For the sake of this piece, here are the starting lineups I would trot out, based on an 11-personnel look on offense and a nickel front on defense. I think the exercise did give me a broader appreciation of Gettleman than I carried going into the writing. For example, the Giants’ defensive line is formidable, even if their offensive line needs work. They are 12th in run stop win rate, a respectable number even if the amount of draft capital and salary cap space they’ve thrown at the problem should have yielded a better result. Also, James Bradberry, who was drafted by Gettleman in his second-to-last year in Carolina and was signed to a three-year deal in free agency, is playing like one of the two best cornerbacks in football despite being paid like the seventh (in terms of his $14.5 million APY salary). Toss in Blake Martinez, who is also playing well and not making a ton of money relative to some of his peers, and there seems to be a foundation there, especially when considering we have Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams to throw into the mix on our combined team.
“This evening, we received negative PCR COVID-19 test results for all players, coaches and personnel,” the team said in a statement. “Following a presumptive positive COVID-19 test and out of an abundance of caution to ensure everyone’s health and safety, we sent all players and personnel home this morning. We also initiated all NFL mandated protocols including player isolation, subsequent testing, and contact tracing. As we have thus far, we will continue to follow required health and safety protocols in the best interests of our coaches, players, staff and community. We look forward to our game this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals.”
The Bears swarmed Brady, sacking him three times and generating a season-high 19 pressures, per NextGen Stats. Mack himself sacked Brady twice — his first two-sack game since Week 3, 2019, snapping a 17 games streak without two-plus sacks, the longest period of his career — and singlehandedly generated six pressures.
“I just know that we smelled a little blood in the water,” Mack said.
The Bears’ front-four did the damage, with 16 of the 19 pressures on Brady coming with four or fewer pass-rushers. Not needing to blitz to discombobulate the Bucs allowed Chicago to play coverage on the back end.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
“It was a bittersweet moment, not being able to be out there,” Breeland admitted to reporters in his Friday press conference. “I was disappointed for myself for allowing my team to be out there without me. Seeing what they were doing, it really cheered me up at the same time, I really watched some good football, guys are really doing some great things. I’m just excited to join back.”
Breeland is right: the defense has played good football. The pass defense has allowed the third-fewest passing yards in the league while also nabbing the fifth-most interceptions with five. Their success so far has energized Breeland.
“I was excited,” Breeland responded when asked about his cornerback teammates’ play this year. “The adrenaline rush from them, I was just ready to get back and join those guys. I knew during camp those guys were going to do something special. I knew that they had all the talent and the capability to hold that spot down and help make this team something great. They shocked me with what they’re doing right now but it’s a long road to go, I’m just happy to be a part of it so we can continue.”