As a group, Arrowhead Pride contributors turned in their second-best predictions of the season for the Week 8 game against the New York Jets. Their composite prediction of a 36.9-15.6 Chiefs victory had 13.3 points of error against the final score of 35-9. Meanwhile, 95% of our readers predicted a Chiefs win — and more than three-quarters of them predicted the blowout. Nice.
So let’s see how the staff — and our readers — think this week’s game against the Carolina Panthers will shake out.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
Christian McCaffrey returns for the Panthers, but I don't think his return has any bearing on the end result. The Chiefs are starting to look like the best team in the league again, and they will continue to do so on Sunday. Patrick Mahomes will get to 100 touchdowns before the end of the third quarter (career not in this game), and then for the third consecutive game, we'll get a healthy helping of Chad Henne. Chiefs 34, Panthers 20
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
If he plays on Sunday (as expected), containing Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey might be the biggest wild card in this game. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo might even consider having versatile Chiefs safety Daniel Sorensen simply shadow McCaffrey wherever he goes. Note to Spags: Dirty Dan should make McCaffrey remember every single tackle — although he probably doesn’t really need that guidance. Otherwise, both the Chiefs offense and defense should be able to simply do what they do. Chiefs 35, Panthers 17
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
Heading into their bye week, the Chiefs’ schedule has played out favorably. They’re fresh off two dominant victories — and have the chance for another one heading into the bye. They’ll need to be fresh for the upcoming stretch: four of the following five games are on the road against teams with winning records. To have another low-intensity victory, the offense will need to have their way with the young Carolina defense. They’d be wise to over-cover the big plays of the Chiefs’ passing attack — which would leave them vulnerable against the run, where they haven’t been performing well. Teddy Bridgewater has not overcome good pressure this season, so the Chiefs’ pass rush will have an important role in securing the team’s eighth win. Chiefs 41, Panthers 21
Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina)
When the Panthers have the ball, they will pose a matchup problem with their quality run game — and if the game is called strictly, their three quick wideouts should have the advantage over Charvarius Ward and potentially Bashaud Breeland. Heading into this game, the Chiefs could have been in for a little bit of bad luck on the defensive line — but now that Chris Jones is no longer on the Reserve/COVID list, that fear has dissipated. Jones’ availability is huge because the Panthers’ offensive line hasn’t been great in protection — especially up the middle — so I expect defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to challenge their blitz pickup throughout the game. When the Chiefs have the ball — with the Panthers playing a lot of soft zone coverage — it might resemble the games against the Houston Texans or Buffalo Bills. The Chiefs’ pass protection will have to hold up in order for receivers to find soft spots — or they’ll have to be willing to take advantage of the light boxes on the ground. In this last game heading into the bye, the Panthers’ offense may come out to play — challenging the Chiefs more than some may expect — but ultimately, the Chiefs offense will just be too much for such a young secondary. Chiefs 34, Panthers 27
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
The Panthers are a difficult team to predict. They’ve logged quality wins against the Los Angeles Chargers and Arizona Cardinals, but lost to the Chicago Bears and split two games with the Atlanta Falcons. They seem like a team still figuring things out under their new head coach and quarterback. There are some pieces there — especially on offense — that will give the Chiefs’ linebackers and secondary a challenge. But with the best player in the universe, the Chiefs are clearly the better team. There could be some fireworks on Sunday, but I expect the champs to come out on top. Chiefs 42, Panthers 27
Craig Stout (@barleyhop)
Christian McCaffrey’s return to the Panthers lineup looms large over this game. The Panthers have some quality weapons on the outside, but McCaffrey changes the complexion of the offense and attacks one of the Chiefs weaknesses: their linebackers. I do expect that the Chiefs offense can move the ball at will and put up points against a young Panthers defense, putting the onus squarely on Steve Spagnuolo’s group. If he can corral McCaffrey — and Joe Brady’s play-calling — the Chiefs can pull out a closer-than-it-looks victory. Chiefs 31, Panthers 21
Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson)
This seems like a trap game. Not in the sense that the Chiefs will lose but more that it may not be pretty. The players are going into this game three hours from their bye week. In a bizarre season, this break will be welcome. I expect the Chiefs to win, but it could be uglier than you would like. Still, the talent level in KC is too high. This game is closer than you want it to be, but the offense scores late to extend a small lead. Chiefs 31, Panthers 21
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
Sunday’s game between the Chiefs and Panthers is difficult to project, given the anticipated return of running back Christian McCaffrey. Mike Davis has done an ample job replacing McCaffrey — but simply said, there is not anybody in the league who comes close. And if you want to pinpoint a weakness about the Chiefs, it’s defending dynamic running backs. Two of the Chiefs’ worst games this season have come while trying to stop dynamic rushers: the lone loss against the Las Vegas Raiders (182 scrimmage yards between Josh Jacobs, Devontae Booker and Jalen Richard) and the overtime game against the Chargers (261 scrimmage yards between Austin Ekeler and Josh Kelley). McCaffrey is those tandems wrapped into one — and without a doubt, he will be a problem. I’m still taking the Chiefs — their offense as a whole provides too much firepower for the Panthers’ 15th-ranked defense. But something just tells me this may be a game in which the Panthers are still involved in the fourth quarter. Chiefs 34, Panthers 24
Which team wins the Chiefs-Panthers game?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout
Chiefs in a close game
Panthers in a close game
Panthers in a blowout.
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
For the third time this season, Craig Stout turned in the best staff prediction. His 38-13 pick from last week missed by only eight points — tied for the second-closest prediction of the season. Tom Childs’ 41-10 prognostication was Week 8’s second-best with 12 points of error. Craig’s victory broke the tie with John Dixon at the top of the standings, putting him in sole possession of first place. John was third in Week 8 — the sixth time this year he’s had the second or third-best pick.