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BETTER BETTOR

Caesar's better bettor: Chiefs, rarely a home underdog, are this week against Bills

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Bills Chiefs Football

Bills center Mitch Morse, left, and Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce embrace after Kelce caught a touchdown pass in overtime to end an epic NFL divisional round playoff game on Jan. 23, 2022, in Kansas City. KC won 42-36. 

It has been about as unusual as an early October snowstorm in downstate Missouri, as strange as an hour passing without a political commercial appearing on TV a few days before a significant election.

Those can happen, but it would be a memorable occurrence.

You can add the chances of the Kansas City Chiefs being an underdog in a home game to that list of oddities.

It has happened only three times in the last eight calendar years (dating to September 2014), and there were extenuating circumstances each time. Two occurred in 2019, games in which QB extraordinaire Patrick Mahomes did not play. He was out with an injury for KC’s final game of October and first of November, with Matt Moore taking over.

Green Bay came to Arrowhead Stadium as a five-point favorite in the first one and won 31-24. The next week Minnesota rolled in as a 5 1/2-point choice but KC won 26-23. Mahomes was back after that, and the Chiefs returned to the favorite role for all their remaining home games not only that year but until the 2020 season finale. In that one they already had clinched the top seed for the AFC playoffs and rested many of their key players, including Mahomes, and lost 38-21 to the Chargers — who were favored by 6 1/2 points.

But the Chiefs have not been an Arrowhead underdog when they have been on normal footing with a foe not only in the Mahomes era, in which he is in his fifth season as KC’s starting quarterback, but also for the three years before that.

Until now, that is. The high-powered Buffalo Bills, who had the lead in two different occasions in the final two minutes of regulation time in an epic playoff game at Arrowhead last January before KC roared back both times then won in overtime 42-36, were tabbed as either a one- or two-point favorite (depending on the sportsbook) when this week’s lines were posted Sunday.

Then after the Chiefs had to rally at home from a big deficit to barely beat the Raiders on Monday, the line was 2 1/2 at two of the three local books (DraftKings in East St. Louis and FanDuel in Collinsville). Argosy (Alton) did not have the game on the board at the time.

By Friday afternoon, it was 3 at Argosy, 2 1/2 at the others. The over/under (combined points for both teams) was 54 at Argosy and DraftKings, 53 1/2 at FanDuel.

Of course there are a dizzying array of proposition bets available on the game, including some interesting ones on the quarterbacks — Mahomes and Buffalo’s Josh Allen. To wit:

Allen passing yards over/under: 296 1/2 at DraftKings, 294 1/2 at Argosy.

Mahomes passing yards over/under: 294 1/2 at DraftKings, 296 1/2 at Argosy.

Allen passing TDs over/under: 2 1/2 (+150) at DraftKings, 2 1/2 (+165) at Argosy.

Mahomes passing TDs over/under: 2 1/2 (+140) at DraftKings, 2 1/2 (+140) at Argosy.

Allen longest completion over/under: 38 1/2 yards at DraftKings

Mahomes longest completion over/under: 36 1/2 yards at DraftKings

Allen rushing yards over/under: 44 1/2 at Argosy

Mahomes rushing yards over/under: 22 1/2 at DraftKings

KU bandwagon rolls on

The surprising Kansas Jayhawks finally lost last week, 38-31 at home to Texas Christian, but they remain undefeated against the point spread.

KU was a seven-point underdog in that one, so while it was the first blemish on their betting resumé it was a “push” (tie), and the Jayhawks still haven’t lost in Las Vegas. They are 5-0-1. TCU also hasn’t lost to the spread, as that push vs. the ’Hawks has the Horned Frogs at 4-0-1.

Kansas heads to Oklahoma this week to face the swooning Sooners, who were mauled by Texas last week 49-0 to fall to 3-3 on the field and 2-4 against the spread. Nonetheless, OU is more than a touchdown favorite in this one. In the three St. Louis area sportsbooks on Friday afternoon, the number was 8 1/2 at FanDuel and Argosy, nine at DraftKings.

KU likely will go with second-string quarterback Jason Bean. But he looked good last week after Jalon Daniels was injured, throwing four touchdown passes.

TCU, meanwhile, is at home against Oklahoma State on Saturday in one of the feature games of the weekend. The Cowboys are coming off a 41-31 victory over Texas Tech that vaulted them to 5-0 in win-loss tallies, but they are just 3-2 in Vegas. The Horned Frogs are favored here, ranging from 3 1/2 points at FanDuel and DraftKings to four at Argosy.

James Madison is the only team that is perfect at the betting windows, at 5-0-0. The Dukes, who also are 5-0 on the field, pounded Arkansas State 42-20 last week, scoring the last two touchdowns of the game in the fourth quarter to cover the 11 1/2-point spread. This Saturday the Dukes hit the road to face Georgia Southern and were favored by 12 1/2 at all three area books. The Eagles are 3-3, but 4-2 in the sportsbooks.

Frog power

Weekend picks

We were 1-2 last week with our selections, losing two units (selections can range from one • to five •••••). That leaves the record at 6-10 and -10 units.

This week’s opinions (odds listed are the most favorable that were available Friday afternoon among the three area sportsbooks):

According to Brandon Anderson of actionnetwork.com, teams that play in Europe then return home to have a game the next week (no bye) have trouble slowing their foe. The opposing squad in that second game has gone “over” that team’s listed points total now in six of seven such instances. That hit in both games last week (the Vikings gave up 22 points to the Bears and the Saints allowed 32 to the Seahawks).

There are two more cases of this Sunday. The Giants are back stateside to entertain the Ravens and the Packers have returned to U.S. soil and are at home against the Jets.

Ravens at Giants, noon Sunday: The team total on the Ravens is 24 1/2, a score they have surpassed just twice in five games. And the Giants have not allowed more than 22 in any outing. But Baltimore should be able to move the ball against a jet-lagged defense that will have trouble containing elusive Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. Ravens over 24 1/2 points (Argosy). ••

Jets at Packers, noon Sunday: The Jets’ team total is 18, a figure they have eclipsed in their last two contests (40 last week vs. the Dolphins). Green Bay has allowed more than 18 in its last two games, and wasn’t exactly facing high-powered offenses — the Patriots and Giants. We’ll also hitch on this one in that London fog trend. Jets over 18 points (FanDuel). •

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