September 4, 2017 Staff Writer

NFL News

Thursday Night Football Betting Preview: Chiefs at Patriots Odds

There are no locks in betting the NFL. That said, there has been one ironclad trend in the NFL since the league started staging its Kickoff Game where the defending Super Bowl champion opens the season in a prime-time game. On a Thursday and at home, the reigning champ is unbeaten in 11 tries.

That information is relevant as the 2017 NFL season kicks off from Gillette Stadium in Foxboro on Thursday as the New England Patriots host the Kansas City Chiefs, with the Patriots as 9-point favorites on the NFL betting lines and the total set at 48.

There have been 13 Kickoff Games, so why did we mention the reigning champ is unbeaten in 11 of those? Because of the Thursday and home qualifiers. In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys won at the defending champion New York Giants, 24-17, but that game was played on a Wednesday night because of the Democratic National Convention and a speech by President Obama on Thursday night.

The only other time the Super Bowl winner lost was the next year when Baltimore was routed 49-27 at Denver. The Ravens were forced to play on the road because of a scheduling conflict with MLB’s Baltimore Orioles. Peyton Manning tied an NFL record with seven TD passes in that win.

If you bet on New England each week last year, you cashed in big time as the Patriots were an incredible 16-3 ATS, including playoffs. That tied the NFL record for most ATS wins in a season with the 1989 San Francisco 49ers. The Pats covered their final eight games, including that shocking Super Bowl LI comeback over Atlanta when down 28-3 late in the third quarter. The only three non-covers: Week 4 at -3.5 vs. Buffalo, a 16-0 loss with Tom Brady still suspended; Week 10 at -7.5 vs. Seattle, a 31-24 loss; and Week 12 at -8.5 at the NY Jets, a 22-17 win.

The Patriots are 3-0 in the Kickoff Game, last playing in 2015 and beating Pittsburgh 28-21. The team will unveil Super Bowl banner No. 5 before this one and Commissioner Roger Goodell will be in attendance. That should be interesting. Goodell did show up to a Patriots game this preseason but hasn’t been to one that matters at Gillette Stadium since the “Deflategate” mess.

Kansas City was no slouch last year at 12-4, the AFC West champion and conference’s second seed, although the Chiefs lost at home in the divisional round to Pittsburgh despite not allowing the Steelers to score a touchdown.

The 2017 Chiefs will be what they always are under Coach Andy Reid: conservative, ball-control offense led by game manager QB Alex Smith. However, two key offensive performers from last year, running back Spencer Ware and receiver Jeremy Maclin, are gone. Ware suffered a season-ending injury this preseason and Maclin was surprisingly released. As usual, the Chiefs’ defense should be a Top-10 unit.

New England has won its past six home games vs. Kansas City, covering four. They last met at Gillette in the divisional round of the playoffs following the 2015 season and the Patriots won 27-20 as 6-point favorites.