2021 Betting Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

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2021 Betting Preview: Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs fell short of becoming the first repeat Super Bowl champions since the Patriots did it in 2003-04, but they’ve firmly established themselves as the league’s new elite franchise over the last half-decade. They’ve reeled off double-digit wins and playoff appearances in six straight seasons (-1000 to make the playoffs), and they’ve done both in seven of Andy Reid’s eight seasons in Kansas City. The Chiefs also won their fifth straight AFC West title (-400) last season. Kansas City entered last season as +450 favorites to have the league’s best record, and they did it with a franchise-best 14-2 record (7-9 ATS), which included a loss to the Chargers in Week 17 when it rested key players.

Kansas City had a franchise-record 13-game winning streak between 2019-20, which started in Week 11 in 2019 and ended with an unexpected loss to the Raiders as double-digit point favorites in Week 5 this season. Kansas City also became the first AFC team to host three straight Conference Championship Games, which resulted in consecutive Super Bowl appearances (and a Lombardi Trophy in 2019).

The Chiefs scored the sixth-most points per game (29.6) and they allowed the 10th-fewest points per game (22.6), which led to an 8-8 totals mark. Kansas City finished with a remarkable 8-1 mark in one-score games and just a 2-1 record in games decided by three scores or more. They finished with only the sixth-best point differential (+111) despite their league-best record.

Kansas City’s 2021 win total (12.5) climbed by one victory thanks to the additional game on this year’s schedule. The Chiefs cruised past their 2020 win total by 2.5 victories and they passed their total with their 12th victory of the season over the Dolphins in Week 14. Entering this season, I have the Chiefs power rated as the best team in the NFL (+500 to win Super Bowl LVI), in the AFC (+250 to win the conference), and in the AFC West (-250).

2021 Schedule

Spreads are first-look lines from the SuperBook, which were released in early June.

WeekOpponentSpreadTime
1Cleveland Browns-6.54:25
2@Baltimore RavensPK8:20
3Los Angeles Chargers-7.51
4@Philadelphia Eagles-81
5Buffalo Bills-4.58:20
6@Washington Football Team-6.51
7@Tennessee Titans-4.51
8New York Giants-108:!5 (Mon)
9Green Bay Packers-74:25
10@Las Vegas Raiders-7.58:20
11Dallas Cowboys-7.54:25
12Bye
13Denver Broncos-9.51
14Las Vegas Raiders-10.51
15@Los Angeles Chargers-6.58:20 (Thurs)
16Pittsburgh Steelers-8.54:25
17@Cincinnati Bengals-7.51
18@Denver Broncos-34:25

The Good

Kansas City has easier matchups against the Eagles, Giants, Raiders (x2), and Bengals this season to soften the blow of some tough matchups in the first half of the season. The Chiefs will leave Kansas City just once in Weeks 8-14 with their only road game coming against the Raiders in Week 10 during that seven-week span. Kansas City is one of 11 teams that won’t face a single opponent coming off of a bye, and they also have a league-high three games against opponents coming off MNF games the week before in the Ravens (Week 2), Eagles (Week 4), and Titans (Week 7).

The Bad

The Chiefs will face the 13th-toughest schedule this season based on 2021 win totals (per Sharp Football), and their revamped offensive line will get tested right out of the gates. They’ll face the Browns, Ravens, and Bills in the first five weeks of the season, and each of those teams is lined at 10.5 wins or better. To no one’s surprise, the NFL scheduled the Chiefs for five primetime games this season, which includes a pair of road SNF affairs against the Ravens in Week 2 and the Raiders in Week 10.

Key Off-season Moves

AdditionsDraftDepartures
Joe Thuney (OG)Nick Bolton (LB)Damien Williams (RB, Chi)
Kyle Long (OG)Creed Humphrey (C)Anthony Sherman (FB, retired)
Austin Blythe (C)Joshua Kaindoh (DE)Sammy Watkins (WR, Bal)
Jarran Reed (DT)Eric Fisher (OT, Ind)
Jerick McKinnon (RB)Mitchell Schwartz (OT)
Will Parks (S)Kelechi Osemele (OG)
Kamalei Correa (LB)Austin Reiter (C)
Tanoh Kpassagnon (DE, NO)
Bashaud Breeland (CB, Min)
Damien Wilson (OLB, Jax)

2021 Season Odds

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Team FuturesOdds
Season Win Total (O/U)12.5 (+105/-125)
AFC West-250
Playoffs (Y/N)-1000/+600
AFC Championship+250
Super Bowl+500

Season Prop Movement

  • Win Total: 12 (-110) in late March to 12.5 (+105)

  • Super Bowl: +550 in early February to +500

Reasons to Bet Over the Season Win Total

The Chiefs have one of the all-time best combinations of quarterback in Patrick Mahomes and offensive-coaching minds in Andy Reid, and the duo has produced spectacular results through their first three seasons together since Mahomes took over as the starter in 2018. They’ve racked up a 37-8 regular season record (.822 winning percentage) and a 6-2 postseason mark with a Super Bowl title in 2019. The Chiefs have the longest streak of overs in the league as they’ve topped their season win total in all eight of Andy Reid’s seasons since he took over as head coach in 2013. They also own the second-longest streak of winning records at eight seasons, which ranks behind only Russell Wilson and the Seahawks at nine.

Mahomes already has an MVP award and Super Bowl title to his name at just 25 years old, and he’s the clear front-runner to win another MVP this season at +400 odds. The Chiefs have the most dynamic passing attack in the league thanks to Mahomes and the most dangerous wide receiver-tight end combo in the league between Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. Both receivers are each going in the first round of fantasy drafts this summer after they both finished inside the top-eight in receiving yards per game last season. In a passing-dominated league dominated, the Chiefs are the team to beat with their three-headed monster, and it’s reflected in their status as early spread favorites in all 17 of their games this season.

Reasons to Bet Under the Season Win Total

The Buccaneers exposed Kansas City’s makeshift offensive line in the Super Bowl and the Chiefs set out to retool the group this off-season. Kansas City traded for an unhappy Orlando Brown and they’ll give him his chance to play left tackle and they handed LG Joe Thuney a massive contract in free agency. They also lured Kyle Long out of retirement and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will return after working on the front lines against COVID-19 in Montreal. They added their final piece to the puzzle in the second round of the draft when they selected C Creed Humphrey to challenge Austin Blythe for a starting spot. The Chiefs are hoping their biggest weakness from 2020 turns into a strength in 2021 but they have plenty of moving parts and it could take some time for the group to build some continuity.

The Chiefs will try to buck recent trends and kick the Super Bowl hangover by being the first Super Bowl loser to surpass their season win total the following year since the Denver Broncos topped their 11.5 win total by half of a win back in 2014. The Chiefs have quite the hangover too after they failed to score a touchdown and they failed to reach double-digit points in the Super Bowl for the first time in Mahomes’ 54 career starts (playoffs included). Kansas City had +6000 odds to score zero touchdowns in the Super Bowl, a wager that saw almost no action after they scored 63 touchdowns in their first 18 games (3.5 TDs/game) last year. Kansas City has little room for error with the league’s highest win total entering the 2021 season, and they can’t afford an injury to the likes of Mahomes, Kelce, or Hill with their top-heavy roster.

Notable Player Props

Patrick Mahomes: passing yards (5050.5), passing TDs (39.5) MVP (+500)

Fantasy Points Projection: passing yards (4895), passing TDs (39)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Kansas City spent the off-season upgrading an offensive line that got exposed in last year’s Sper Bowl, and the moves pay off by giving Mahomes more time to pick apart opposing defenses.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: The Chiefs’ offensive line isn’t significantly better than the 2020 version, which in turn exposes their thin receiving corps behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, which didn’t get any major upgrades this off-season.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire: rushing yards (900.5), rushing + receiving yards (1250.5), rushing TDs (7.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: rushing yards (920), rushing + receiving (1355), rushing TDs (5)

  • Best-Case Scenario: CEH finds his footing in the Chiefs’ offense in his second season with expectations lowered a bit from his rookie season, and he finds more success at the goal line and in the passing game

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: After handling 21+ touches per game through the first six games of last season, CEH continues to split the backfield work as he did at the end of last season, this time with the likes of Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon.

Tyreek Hill: receiving yards (1325.5), receptions (89.5), receiving TDs (10.5), OPOY (+2500)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1345), receptions (90), receiving TDs (13)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Tyreek backs up his WR1 fantasy draft status with another dominant season, and the passing attack goes to another level with improved offensive line play in front of Patrick Mahomes

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Hill fails to play in a full complement of games for the fourth time in his last five seasons, which makes his margin for error on his props too much to overcome.

Travis Kelce: receiving yards (1300.5), receptions (100.5), receiving TDs (10), OPOY (+1600)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (1250), receptions (100)

  • Best-Case Scenario: Kelce and Patrick Mahomes are once again the top TE-QB duo in the league and he leads all tight ends in fantasy scoring for the sixth straight season.

  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Kelce, in his age-32 season, begins to slow down a bit in his ninth season and he’s unable to maintain his blistering season averages of 100+ catches and 1300+ yards with Mahomes from 2018-20.

Mecole Hardman: receiving yards (700.5)

Fantasy Points Projection: receiving yards (765)

  • Best-Case Scenario: The Chiefs showed some trust in Hardman by not adding to their receiving corps in the off-season, and he pays it off by dusting his old previous bests as the team’s #2 WR.
  • Worst-Case-Scenario: Hardman fails to show significant improvement in his third season and he can’t make much noise stuck in a rotation with Demarcus Robinson, Bryon Pringle, and Cornell Powell.

Brolley’s Bets

Best Bets

No wagers.

Leans

Kansas City Chiefs over 12.5 wins (+110, PointsBet) — My instinct is to fade teams that have the highest win totals on the board because all it takes are a few injuries and/or a little bad luck and that team has no prayer of going over their total — e.g. the 2020 San Francisco 49ers. I’m going against my instincts when it comes to the Chiefs and specifically when it comes to Andy Reid-coached teams. Reid is the most respected coach when it comes to win totals, and his Chiefs’ teams have topped their win total in all eight of his seasons since he took over as head coach in 2013 — the longest streak in the NFL. The Chiefs won 14 of the 15 games in which they played their starters last season, and they could have an even better roster this season after they aggressively attacked their major weakness along their offensive line. Oh yeah, they also still have the best player in the league in Patrick Mahomes. My one concern with this roster is that their receiving corps is pretty ugly after Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce and they can’t afford to lose either one of them for a significant chunk of time. Even then, I could see the Chiefs being aggressive around cutdown day so this receiving corps could look a bit different by the time Week 1 rolls around. I can only look toward over when it comes to Reid’s Chiefs but this massive win total will ultimately keep me away.

Tom is a Senior Writer at Fantasy Points who specializes in fantasy and betting analysis. He’ll be helping you to navigate the waiver wire and manage your fantasy teams while also keeping our betting content robust all year long, especially during the season. Tom's Best Bets against the spread won at 61.5% clip in 2019 and he was a perfect 8-0 on his Best Bets for season win totals in 2020.