At this writing on Wednesday, the Kansas City Chiefs are 19.5-point favorites in their game against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. FiveThirtyEight.com lists the Chiefs with a 92% chance to win, which translates to a 17.5-point spread. Using Pro-Football-Reference’s SRS model, the Chiefs are 28.5-point favorites.
But Chiefs head coach Andy Reid just doesn’t care about your point spread — wherever you found it.
“This league is all about parity,” he declared in his Zoom call with reporters on Wednesday. “That’s what the league strives for. So [a team] never as good as you think and never as bad as you think. Whether it’s driven by the gambling or whether it’s driven by the media — whatever it’s driven by [to] present those numbers — I don’t pay attention to them.”
In Reid’s mind, there’s a very good reason to ignore the odds: they mean nothing.
“Every week, somebody gets picked off that was one of these ‘favorites’ — or whatever — so you go back and you focus on your agenda,” he said. “You study the opponent. You respect the opponent. And then you get yourself right — to make yourself get better every week. If you lose focus on that, then you have a problem in this league. These are good football players and good coaches — best in the world, right? So you don’t lose focus on that.”
That’s why Reid begins every press appearance with a statement saying that his team “looks forward to the challenge” of playing their next opponent — to remind his listeners that he, his coaches and his players take each opponent with equal seriousness.
And Reid’s players have received the message.
“I think people understand that in this league, you can’t overlook anybody,” said quarterback Patrick Mahomes on Wednesday. “If you watch the tape (and don’t look at the record) you understand that [the Jets are] a good football team — a team where a lot of guys are making a lot of plays, and a lot of guys who have made plays on other teams.
“So you understand that it’s going to be a great challenge for us. We have to go out there and play our best football if we want to win. That’s not an overstatement; that’s just true. It’s how this league works.”
His teammate Travis Kelce said that it all comes down to focusing inward — rather than outward.
“[We] have to focus on ourselves,” he explained. “That’s the biggest thing. I think we can take that from every game we’ve played this year. When we play to our ability... when we let the game come to us... [when] we don’t try to do too many things offensively or try to go above and beyond.”
But Kelce also made it clear that respecting each opponent doesn’t mean the team lacks confidence it can prevail — whether it’s over the Jets or any other opponent.
“We have all the players that we need,” he chuckled. “We’ve got the best weapons in the National Football League right here in this building. When you have that — plus the quarterback that can sling it around land get the ball in everybody’s hands and make the right plays, the right decisions — you’ve got to just kind of trust the scheme and trust what you’re doing is good enough. And play your tail off. As long as we focus on ourselves and how we play the game of football, I’ve got a lot of confidence we’ll go in and take care of business.”
Of course, this fine balance — between respect for their opponent and confidence in themselves — is precisely why the Chiefs are expected to beat the Jets on Sunday. Any experienced bettor will tell you there’s no such thing as a sure thing — but in the NFL, Sunday’s game is about as close as it gets.