Kansas City Chiefs (0-0) +16.5, 45 O/U at New England Patriots
(0-0) -16.5, 45 O/U, Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass., 1 PM
by Badger of Predictem.com
Will Tom Bradys sore foot allow him to play?
That has become the million dollar question as the New England
Patriots get set to kickoff the 2008 NFL season by hosting the Kansas
City Chiefs in Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Sunday.
Theres little doubt the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick held
Brady out of the preseason because the two-time Super Bowl MVP
doesnt have anything to prove, so why risk injuring himself further.
But even without Brady the Kansas City Chiefs would have to play a
near flawless game to pull off the upset, especially since the Chiefs
ended 2007 with a 4-12 record (7-8 ATS) and initiated a complete
overhaul of the franchise in the offseason.
The sportsbooks must suspect that Brady and Belichick are sandbagging it too, because they opened the game Sunday with the Patriots as
whopping 16.5-point favorites. That number has dropped to 15.5 at a
few offshores, but it has also gone up to 17 at 5Dimes.com. The over/under total opened at 48, but has since dropped
to anywhere from 44 to 46 at most books. The moneyline has the Pats
listed at -1800, with the Chiefs listed at +1200.
If you followed the NFL at all last season, heck, even if you didnt, you are well aware that the Patriots nearly pulled off the miraculous
feat of an undefeated season. They ran through the regular season
16-0 (10-6 ATS) and ended up just one game away from 19-0 when they
and the world were stunned by the New York Giants in Super Bowl 42.
Brady was flawless during the regular season, setting a new mark for
touchdowns in a season with 50 while throwing for nearly 5,000 yards
(4,806). But Brady hurt the same foot he is now tender on all the way
back in the Super Bowl versus the Giants and has yet to take a live
With Brady at the helm the Patriots offense ranked No. 1 in just
about every offensive category recorded, including points scored
(36.8), total yards per game (411.2) and yards per play (6.22). Brady
has a full arsenal of weapons at his disposal, including the homerun
threat in Randy Moss (1,493 yds., 23 TD) and the scrappy Wes Welker
(1,175 yds., 8 TD). When hes not playing pitch-n-catch with those
two, hes handing it off to Laurence Maroney (835 yds., 6 TD).
The Chiefs on the other hand will be giving the starting job to third-
year man Brodie Croyle fulltime in 2008. Croyle was the definition of
average in his three starts last season, throwing as many picks as
touchdowns (six) while completing just 56 percent of his throws.
Croyle will need running back Larry Johnson to have a rebound year in
08 to help take some of the heat off of him. Johnson missed a lot of
time with injury and rushed for only 559 yards and three scores,
which explains why the Chiefs ended up 4-12. After Johnson there
isnt a heck of a lot of superstar talent on the Chiefs roster.
Receiver Dwayne Bowe had a nice rookie season (995 yds., 5 TD) and
tight end Tony Gonzales continues to be a premier pass-catching
threat in the middle of the field (1,172 yds., 5 TD), but after that
it is bare.
Defensively the Patriots surprised a lot of people with a solid
regular season, ending up ranked 4th overall in points allowed (17.1)
and total yards per game (288.3). But the unit was exposed late in
the season as slow and old, which is why five of the teams seven
draft picks were spent on the defensive side of the ball. Linebacker
Jarod Mayo is expected to step into the middle right away, but the
secondary will be tested early and often since they lost corners
Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson all to free agency in
The Chiefs also spent a good portion of their draft picking up
defensive help, and two of their picks, DT Glenn Dorsey and CB
Brandon Flowers, will be expected to contribute right away to a unit
that ended up in the middle of the pack in most categories (14th in
points allowed 20.9; 13th in total yards allowed 319.4). The
Chiefs however gave up the leagues top pass rusher in Jared Allen to
amass all of those draft picks, and no one is exactly sure how they
plan on replacing his production.
These two teams last met back in November of 2005, a 26-16 win by Kansas City at home in Arrowhead as 3-points favorites. My how times
Despite chasing some really huge spreads last season, the Patriots
still covered the number 10 times in 07. But most of those covers
came during an 8-0 ATS start, as they fell apart down the stretch
going 2-9 ATS in their last 11 games including the playoffs.
The Chiefs closed out 07 with back-to-back covers, but that was it as they were just 2-4 ATS in Croyles six starts. However, they were
a solid 6-2 ATS on the road last year and 7-5 ATS as underdogs.
Betting trends on the over/under are conflicting, as the Chiefs have come in under the total in 10 of their last 11 September games and
eight out of their last 11 games on the road. But the Patriots sport
a rock-solid 9-2 record on the over in their last 11 week one openers.
Badgers Pick: I am not a fan of huge spreads in the NFL, and even
if you shop around and find just a 15- or 15.5-point spread, I still
think its too large to chase. If you need to bet on this game, take
the chance that Brady is rusty and that Croyle is shaky and take the
under of 45. If you can still find a house with 48 as the total, jump
all over that and take the under all the way.