Football picksJune 18, 2021

Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Top 2 Targets for Chiefs QB Mahomes

Chiefs QB Mahomes has the perfect combination in WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Playmaking ability, speed and reliability are the trademarks of this Kansas City offense and it gives bookmakers an easy decision when it comes to listing AFC Conference favorites.

Chiefs QB Mahomes

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill led the NFL in Yards per Touch in 2018 (15.0) & 2020 (14.0)


Chiefs QB Mahomes has Top Pass Catching Duo

If you want to talk about a full-on receiving corps in the NFL, Tom Brady’s talented group in Tampa Bay gets the top spot. For one thing, they are looking as good – if not better – in 2021 than they did last year. And then there’s those fresh Super Bowl rings so, uh, case closed. But if it’s the top 1-2 punch you want, the kind of thing that causes sleepless nights for defensive coordinators, Kansas City gets the nod.

Tyreek Hill’s 2020 Highlights: In his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl season (out of five), Hill had 135 targets and tied a career-high with 87 receptions. He set a new high in touchdowns (15) and receptions per game (15). Hill led the NFL in yards per touch with 14.0, only a yard off his career-high and league-leading mark of 15.0 set in 2018, and Hill extended his unbelievable tally of TDs on 20-plus-yard targets over the past four years to 25.

Hill’s speed gives Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy the ability to take all of their ingenuity, bore out the cylinders, and then hand the keys to Chiefs QB Mahomes.

Add Travis Kelce to the mix, and Chiefs QB Mahomes has the best of both worlds. Kelce led all tight ends in 2020 in Yards Above Replacement, DYAR, and Effective Yards. He set career-highs in yards per touch (13.5), yards from scrimmage (1,416) and TDs (11).

  • Kelce caught 72.4% of every ball Chiefs QB Mahomes threw his way and KC led the NFL with 303.8 passing yards per game.

The workhorse has notched 1,000 yards in five consecutive seasons and will continue to dominate matchups ahead in 2021. Especially against teams that sit back and let the play come to them.

Circle KC’s Week 5 game against Buffalo and Week 17 matchup vs. Cinci as two spots where Kelce could have big games. The Bills ranked 28th vs. tight ends and Bengals 27th. Buffalo will be in double-revenge mode, which should make for a great game, and it’s a Sunday nighter. Double bonus!

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Kansas City Chiefs Odds

I’m tracking NFL offseason betting odds for you throughout the summer. Every time a new team preview is added or the futures market takes a significant swing, I’ll post on social media and you can stay up to date as we countdown to kickoff.

For preseason power rankings and Super Bowl odds, visit my NFL Team Previews HQ!

2021 NFL Season Win Total Odds: 12.5 UN -130
Pre-draft NFL Win Total Odds: 12 OV -115
2020 Record: 14-2
Average Wins 2018-20: 12.7
Odds to win the Division: -310 (1st)
Net Strength of Schedule: 18th best

Kansas City doesn’t have the most favorable schedule in 2021, but they have a couple games worth circling for early line value. One of those games is Week 8 vs. the New York Giants.

  • Projected Line for Week 8 = Giants vs. Chiefs -12

The Giants were 25th in opponent completion percentage (67.6), 26th in time of possession and they allowed the eighth-most first downs via passing.

  • Record for Chiefs QB Mahomes at home off a road game = 13-1 SU and 8-6 ATS

Kansas City outscored opponents 28.6 to 15.1 in those games. When favored by more than -10 points, KC won all seven times by an average score of 26.3 to 9.9.

Kansas City Chiefs Trends

The post-divisional letdown spot is a great team trend to look at when perusing the schedule in the offseason. If a team has struggled with divisional games of late, has a new coach or perhaps one whose seat is starting to get hot, they could dump a lot of effort into the more important rivalries. No matter how the game turns out, it’s realistic to think they’ll be a bit off next week, but not all teams are created equal. Here’s an example.

Andy Reid started with the Chiefs in 2013. The Chiefs went 11-5 SU that season but lost both games against the San Diego Chargers. Those two games sunk KC’s record vs. the Chargers to 5-15 SU over the past 10 seasons!

  • Kansas City’s record after facing the Chargers from 2007-13 was 3-11 SU, including 1-7 SU at home. KC only covered the spread in two out of eight home games during that span and averaged just 16.2 points per game.

And then along came Chiefs QB Mahomes. His first real season was 2018 and since then, Kansas City is 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS with 3 OVERS, 2 UNDERS and a push after the Chargers.

  • Patrick Mahomes is 16-1 SU and 11-6 ATS (65%) all-time when following any divisional matchup.

The point of all this is that when betting trends, it pays to look beyond the numbers.

Another trend to consider with HC Reid is that when it comes to so-called ‘winnable’ games, he takes no prisoners.

  • Reid has a road record of 19-7 ATS (73%) against teams with a .500 or worse record.

One cautionary spot with Chiefs QB Mahomes is when he’s coming off a game in which he wasn’t picked off.

  • Mahomes is 4-10 ATS as a favorite up to -7 points following a game where he threw zero interceptions.

The smallish pointspread lets you know this is a formidable foe. Yet because of his reputation, and the fact he was likely in the zone last week, books will charge a premium on KC in this spot. Last year, this situation arose three times and KC won all three straight up but they went 0-3 ATS. The spread was just too generous.

Chiefs Bottom Line

With an offense that features Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, Kansas City already has the most reliable, consistent and talented mix of playmakers in the NFL. Add RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire into the mix, with a proper training camp for HC Reid to impart his knowledge, and the ground game that was 13th in rushing DVOA last year will jump into the Top 10.

Chiefs QB Mahomes is also going to have a new offensive line in front of him this season after the trade for LT Orlando Brown out of Baltimore. Brown has started 42 games the past three years, earning Pro Bowl recognition in 2019 and 2020. He was also named Big 12 O-Lineman of the year in back-to-back seasons at Oklahoma and once this group gets settled, they will be one of top units in the NFL. KC also signed free agent Joe Thuney (Patriots) and brought in Austin Blythe (Rams) for depth at center.

HC Reid is one of the greatest coaches all-time with extra prep, and he’ll have this team ready to make a run back towards the Super Bowl. Bettors can expect some pricey lines on the Chiefs, so we’ll have to pick our spots. But winning 12-13 games this season is well within the realm.

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