Monday Night Football: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New England Patriots

The New England Patriots (6-3) host the Kansas City Chiefs (4-5) for Monday Night Football at Gillette Stadium, in the top online sports betting option at one of the best online sportsbooks reviewed here. It’s an interesting match-up between one of the most proficient and high-scoring offenses for New England, against the much more conservative game plan of the Chiefs, which will have to play even more on the side of caution as first-time starter Tyler Palko makes his debut for the Chiefs in place of the injured Matt Cassel.

There are plenty of connections between these two squads heading into tonight’s game, including the Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who was widely regarded as an essential piece to building the New England Patriots’ personnel into a football dynasty during his time there in the 2000’s. Also, Romeo Crennel, who served as Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator for 3 Super Bowl wins in 4 years, will have the unenviable task of shoring up his Chiefs defense against the #2 ranked offense in the NFL tonight, but will certainly have an advantage of knowing Belichick’s game plan and assets throughout the years, and preparing accordingly for tonight’s big Monday Night Football game. Along with Matt Cassel, who backed up Tom Brady in New England before being brought to Kansas City and led them to the AFC West title in 2010, the familiarity between these two teams is evident, however for tonight’s game the biggest question mark has to be the absence of Cassel who suffered a ‘significant injury’ to his throwing hand, and is looking likely to miss the remainder of the season. In his place tonight, Tyler Palko will face a tough challenge, having thrown the ball just 13 times in the NFL in his short 2-year career with Kansas City, but at least will have the benefit of facing the league’s 32nd ranked passing defense, which is allowing 308.9 yards per game through 9 contests.

With an already conservative game plan like Kansas City is used to running, the inexperienced Tyler Palko may not get much of a chance to throw the ball downfield against the Patriots biggest weakness, and that may be one of the biggest concerns for a Kansas City team that has struggled to score touchdowns, even with their 9th-ranked rushing offense in tow. Though both Jackie Battle and Dexter McCluster have been running well (averaging 4.6 yards/carry each this year), it’s very concerning to see them ranked tied for last in the NFL with only 3 rushing touchdowns on the season, as converting 7 points in the red-zone has been a problem for the Chiefs even with starter Matt Cassel behind center. Kansas City has also struggled to produce touchdowns via the air, accumulating 10 TDs to receivers despite having a crop of talent including Dwayne Bowe and Steve Breaston, putting them at 27th in the league in passing touchdowns and 26th overall in total offensive production. With New England having a fairly solid defensive line putting the rushing defense at 13th while allowing just over 100 yards per game, the biggest challenge for the Chiefs tonight will be how to generate enough offense meanwhile limiting the effectiveness of New England’s Tom Brady and his outstanding cast of receiving threats.

New England on the other hand is firmly in the drivers’ seat in the AFC East after beating the second place New York Jets for the second time this season last week, while simultaneously avoiding their first 3-game losing streak in a decade. Though many have questioned the shaky defensive play especially in the Patriots secondary, no one questions the potency of the Pats offense, which features Wes Welker (72 catches, 1006 yards, 6 TDs) as well as the best tight end tandem in the league with Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez (89 catches, 1083 yards, 13 TDs combined) making life extremely difficult for even the best defensive backfields. While the New England running attack led by BenJarvus Green-Ellis has slowed down from a decent season start (amassing just 60 yards last week against New York), Tom Brady’s comfort with his receivers is scary for any opposing defense to engage, especially when on any given night a different star might come out to shine. Despite the Chiefs being reasonably good against the passing game, allowing 230 yards per contest this season, what could be interesting in this match-up is to see whether Coach Belichick opts for a more balanced attack on offense featuring more of the run, against a Chiefs team that has struggled in allowing 134 rush yards/game (27th in the league). Seeing more out of Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead alongside the Law Firm of BenJarvus Green Ellis in the backfield could be an interesting play to mix up the offensive attack, and  if the Pats can run the ball in order to set up the passing game in tonight’s contest, it could get ugly very early for the Chiefs, who certainly don’t want to find themselves playing catch-up against the best passing offense in the nation.

Betting Lines for New England vs. Kansas City

These are two teams that seem to be moving in different directions heading into the final 7 games of the regular season, despite the fact that Kansas City, losers of 2 straight, sits just 2 games out of the hunt for the AFC West. Losing 3 straight, then winning 4 in a row, then 2 again does not a confident, balanced NFL team make. Therefore, without a seasoned starting quarterback this evening, it comes as no shock to see the Chiefs as heavy underdogs on the road for Monday Night Football, getting +900 odds to win on the money line against the Patriots massive -1500 odds as favorites at home. This is by far the most lopsided set of betting lines for NFL Football this season, however there is room to take advantage of these odds by picking the right wager on the right lines at Sportsbook. With the Chiefs knowing their defense has to stand on its head to compete tonight, and sports betting fans knowing that K.C. struggles on offense even despite having a green quarterback making a start (K.C. is averaging 15.7 points/game, 28th in the NFL), the over/under wager at 47 points could be worth a stab at especially if the ground game is sought out by both teams in the early going. Also, with a lofty 16.5 point spread (-110 odds for either the favorite Pats or the underdog Chiefs) being the highest we’ve seen for an NFL game to-date this year, a lower scoring game could favor the Chiefs to pull within a two-touchdown margin, if Kansas City can put together a dink-and-dunk kind of game against a susceptible Pats defensive secondary. With so many if’s and questions on the Kansas City side of the ball though, it’ll certainly be a tough call to expect anything other than pure New England domination in tonight’s MNF match-up.

Our Pick to Win:

If it isn’t obvious via team comparison and observation, we’ll spell it out for you. Patriots win big tonight. Getting to improve the defense against a first-time starter is a big plus for the lowly New England secondary, who will need to have much better play against opposing offenses if they are to stand a legit run through this year’s playoffs. Much like Green Bay was able to do over the past few weeks, we expect the New England D (while certainly not nearly as talented as the Packers) to show many areas of improvement tonight, and take advantage of some likely miscues at the Chiefs’ QB position that help put this game way out of reach. While I think Kansas City gives New England a better run for their money than most expect in a critical game for both teams’ seasons, the Chiefs will struggle to generate first downs and get into scoring position, giving Tom Brady way too much time on the field to inflict his damage through the air. Final score for Monday Night Football tonight, New England 35, Kansas City 17.

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