Kansas City Chiefs vs. Seattle Seahawks Pick
Kansas City Chiefs (11-3 SU, 8-5-1 ATS) vs. Seattle Seahawks (8-6 SU, 8-4-2 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: Sunday, December 23, 2018 at 8:20PM EST
Where: CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Washington
By Loot Levinson, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC -2.5/SEA +2.5
Over/Under Total: 53
The Kansas City Chiefs come into CenturyLink Field for a big game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday Night Football. The stakes are high, as both teams look to bounce back from setbacks last week. The Chiefs were leading by 14 with less than 4 minutes against the Chargers at home and managed to lose the game. What looked to be a stranglehold on a top playoff seeding has now threatened to become a wild card spot. But this week features another tough spot, as the Chiefs have to come into Seattle to take on a Seahawks team that lost to San Francisco last week when a win would have guaranteed them a playoff spot. I see the ‘Hawks bouncing back this week to get the cover as home-dogs.
Stakes High for Both Teams
The Chiefs have been slipping some in recent weeks, with personnel losses and some setbacks on the field. The season began with nary a hiccup, as they won 9 of their first ten, covering almost every spread. They haven’t covered a spread now in any of their last five games and people are looking at them as something less than a leading conference contender. On Thursday Night Football, they couldn’t keep it together, losing a big lead late and allowing a divisional team to tie them in the standings. While this game comes out of conference, beating Seattle would put some well-needed wind into their sails. And it will also help in the standings.
Seattle has endured an up-and-down season in 2018. After winning four in a row to get themselves in the wild card driver’s seat, it was bemusing to see them fall in overtime to a Niners team they had smashed a few weeks prior. And with a lot of marginal wild card teams from their conference winning last week, the Seahawks can not afford another hiccup this week. While they are at home, it’s not an easy spot against a high-powered and irritated Chiefs team.
Chiefs Prisoners of Their Own Success?
At the end of the day, what’s so horrible about what has happened to the Chiefs? All this over just going 2-2 in their last four games? Sure, they lost defending rushing champion Kareem Hunt. That can’t help. Patrick Mahomes has been dialed-back in recent weeks a bit. Seeing a collapse at home with a lead against a divisional rival doesn’t speak well to the clutch-play of a maligned defense. But maybe there is a little too much panic in the air. They’re still 11-3 with a whole lot to be happy about in season where few were predicting success. They lost two FG games to the Rams and Chiefs, and by a single point to the Chargers, a team they also beat. So let’s temper the pessimism a bit. A twist here and a twist there, they could be unbeaten.
Whose Defense Can Rise?
The Chiefs’ defense looms as a problem-area for their season and in this game. They’ve given up 140 combined points in their last four games. It’s not good and one wonders how this side of the ball will look like on the road this Sunday night. No matter how well an offense plays, the defense can’t be disconnected and not helping. When you’re looking hard for a positive development, as the Chiefs were last week at home, and you’re up by 14 with less than 4 minutes left and you lose in regulation, it’s a hard pill to swallow. Losing CB Kendall Fuller is another issue, though the return of S Eric Berry should start paying off. The Chiefs will struggle to contain a powerful Seahawks run-game led by Chris Carson. The Seattle run-game is the top-ranked rushing offense in the league. The Chiefs’ secondary, ranked last in the NFL, will also struggle to contain Russell Wilson and his cast of weapons. Wilson has been playing well lately, with 13 TDs and just one pick in his last 6 games.
The Seattle defense also faces some unique challenges this week. I still think they’re a lot better than the numbers indicate. They are 20th against the pass and 15th against the run, but have given up an average of just 20.9 points this season. They have struggled against the better offenses they have played, giving up a lot to the Chargers and the two times they had to play the Rams. But it’s an improving young defense with increasing rigidity and playmaking ability. Only once in the last nine games has a team surpassed 27 points, not too bad. This week, with Mahomes coming into town with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and others, it’s a tough test for the Seattle “D.” Still, while it’s fair to say that most teams are a tick better at home overall, the Seattle defense has played their best ball at home by far.
Cutting Each Team Some Slack
One could harp on how neither team is peaking at the right time, not able to respond to the urgency of last week. It doesn’t reflect well. But the Seahawks were caught by surprise by a team that had stomped a few weeks prior. They saw a slew of penalties and other mistakes completely undermine their entire effort and they fell to a Frisco team that has a lot of heart. The Chiefs also fell apart, perhaps in less-forgiving fashion, but to a really good team in the Chargers that is on a big roll of late. Both teams have still overachieved this season according to most preseason projections.
Take the Points on the Home Underdog
Both teams enter this matchup at a heightened state of urgency. It’s perhaps more important for the home team, as their playoff futures are on the line, whereas the Chiefs’ concerns are more placement-oriented. This being in Seattle helps, as this is a tough environment for such a young AFC team to thrive. It’s not an easy game to call. Any number of different possibilities seems equally viable. But I see the Seahawks hanging in there and getting the cover at home.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Seattle Seahawks plus 2.5 points.