Here's Why We Like Kansas City to Cover -9 vs. Jacksonville

NFL Jan 20, 2023

Historically, the top-seeded teams coming off a bye week have dominated in this round, since they enjoy the home-field advantage, extra prep time, and the luxury of playing the lowest-seeded opponents. These advantages will clearly favor both Kansas City and Philadelphia. The big question is, will the Chiefs and Eagles cover high pointspreads? In the last four seasons, top seeds are just 3-5 ATS.

What about the generous number of points being given to Cincinnati and Dallas in the other two games? Are those two live underdogs worth taking?  Both pups are getting more than a field goal and -- unlike the Jags possibly upsetting the Chiefs and Giants upsetting the Eagles, either of which would be shocking -- these underdogs look like teams very capable of pulling off outright upsets.

Here's our analysis and picks, starting with Saturday's JACKSONVILLE at KANSAS CITY matchup:

Sat: 4:30 ET / 1:30 PT
Line:  Chiefs -8.5
Total:  53

No team is a bigger shock than the Jacksonville Jaguars. They were 150-1 to win the Super Bowl when the season kicked off, and now are just three victories away from the impossible dream. The Jaguars have won 6 consecutive games and also won 8 of the 13 games in which they were underdogs this season. Not sure of its relevance, but let's also note that as a head coach, Doug Pederson is 6-0 ATS as an underdog in playoff games.

However, these two teams are in completely different classes--both in talent and experience. In the Patrick Mahomes era, KC is 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS at home in the playoffs and 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in the Divisional and Wild Card rounds, covering the spread by an average margin of 6.9 points. The Chiefs also beat the Jags earlier this season by 10 (as -9.5 faves). The Jaguars won the turnover battle 3-0 and still lost 27-17. JAX has improved since then but is not anywhere near the class as KC.

The tipping point for us taking KC and laying points is the awful play of the Jaguars early in their previous two games. They were damned lucky to get the win vs. Tennessee two weeks ago, then fell behind 27-0 last week, ultimately rallying for a 31-30 win. It was the first time ever a team won a playoff game with a -5 turnover ratio.

Then, there's the consistent power that is the Kansas City Chiefs, especially at Arrowhead. In the last four seasons, KC won its first playoff game by margins of 18-20-5-21 points. The Chiefs are 8-3 in playoff games overall in that same span since 2018. The Chiefs also led the NFL in scoring this year with 29.3 PPG.

It must be pointed out that KC carries a heavy burden in this game as the top seed and a big favorite. In fact, it's been profitable to fade these teams in the Divisional Round since they're just 13-25-1 ATS over the last 20 seasons. Such teams favored by less than 10 points fare even worst, just 8-22-1 ATS.

For totals bettors, the UNDER is 54-38-1 at Arrowhead with Andy Reid as KC coach. When the Chiefs are 7-points favorites or higher, UNDER is 31-14-1.

The Picks:

Kansas City -9
Teaser: Kansas City -3 / Cincinnati +11.5