NFL nut Kyle Robins (@AhhYeahKyleYeah) shares his expert opinion on the best bets available for Thursday night's curtain-raiser between the Chiefs and the Patriots.
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots | Friday 8th September 2017, 01:30 | Sky Sports
How long till the start of the regular season? Is it week one yet?
How many times those questions must have been asked over the past few months is beyond me. Fortunately, after the longest off-season in professional sports, America’s game is back, as Tom Brady and his defending Superbowl champion New England Patriots look to protect home field as the Kansas City Chiefs come to town.
After the madness that is the NFL off-season, worryingly for the rest of the league, the Patriots look to be a stronger unit than last year, after the additions of Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore. They simply put, ‘won the off-season’ as some people have been saying…
Being clear frontrunners to repeat the success of last year and take home another Lombardy in February, they’re strongly fancied at 1/4 with SkyBet to kick-off this campaign with a comfortable win over the Chiefs.
The Patriots have dominated this match-up over recent years, winning three of the last four meetings, holding the Chiefs below 20 points in each of those three wins, and I too can’t see past a Patriots win on Thursday night.
With the over and under mark being set at 48 points, SkyBet offer a Handicap and Total Points combined market, so I’m certainly taking Patriots -7.5 and Under 49.5 Total Points at 2/1.
Kansas City as an offensive outfit, are about as unpredictable as they come. Led by Alex Smith, they ranked 13th in points per-game (23.4), 19th in passing yards per-game (234) and 15th in rushing yards per-game (15th). All pretty unflattering numbers.
Put that unit up against a Patriots defence that allowed the fewest total points in the league (250) whilst allowing the least points per-game (15.6), Kansas City under 14.5 points at 9/4 with SkyBet looks good.
Despite seemingly dropping the nickname ‘Captain Checkdown’, Smith still leads one of the least explosive offenses in the league. After releasing Jeremy Maclin and losing starting running back Spencer Ware to season ending injury, outside of Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the offense lacks any other real playmakers.
Here’s hoping rookie running back Kareem Hunt can step up and add another dimension to this offense, but that may take some time.
The Patriots, on the other hand, have an abundance of playmakers all over the field, even after losing star wideout Julian Edelman for the year. With four running backs, It’s the best kept secret as to how the Patriots will line up week one.
Their unofficial depth chart has Mike Gillisee atop the running back position, followed by James White and Dion Lewis, with off-season acquisition Rex Burkhead another potential weapon.
If we take anything from the history of patriots and running backs, is they seem to always go with the hot hand, regardless of stature. So whilst its impossible at this point to say who will break out, they’ve got plenty of options coming out of the backfield, and given the Patriots efficient passing game you know for sure someone a running back will be catching an awful lot of passes.
They may be 16 touchdowns worse off after losing red zone merchant LeGarrette Blount to Philadelphia, but again, its just a case of next man up in the Patriots offense.
Whilst the season ending injury to Julian Edelman is definitely something of a sour note after the Patriots stellar off-season, they’ve still got more than enough weapons for Mr. Brady to target.
With all the attention this off-season being on new deep threat wide out Brandin Cooks and the returning Rob Gronkowski, people are seemingly forgetting the rest of the receiver core who led this team to the Superbowl just last February. Amendola, Mitchell and Hogan combined for 18 receptions and 204 yards in that game, and all still remain key parts to this offense.
The fact Cooks will likely draw coverage from no1 corner Marcus Peters, coupled with Gronkowski’s return, it might open up passing lanes for the rest of the receiving core, and whilst I like Malcom Mitchell, 2/1 with SkyBet on an anytime Chris Hogan touchdown appeals to me greatly, considering its 6/5 elsewhere.
If you fancy him to repeat his feat of a year ago, in scoring the first Patriots touchdown of the season, 18/1 with SkyBet also seems a great price.
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots – New England Patriots -7.5 handicap and Under 49.5 Points (2/1 with SkyBet)
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots – Kansas City Under 14.5 Points (9/4 SkyBet)
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots – Chris Hogan Anytime Touchdown (2/1 SkyBet)
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots – Chris Hogan First Touchdown (18/1 SkyBet)