Kansas City Chiefs predictions, odds, and preview for the 2023 season

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Kansas City Chiefs 2023 season preview and predictions

This appeared in the original VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on June 29, 2023.

Matt Youmans: Patrick Mahomes became the full-time starting quarterback at the beginning of the 2018 season, and he has helped produce regular-season records of 12-4, 12-4, 14-2, 12-5 and 14-3. Mahomes has won two Super Bowls, lost one and lost two AFC title games. DraftKings listed Kansas City as the +175 favorite to win the AFC West last year when the perception was the other three teams were closing the gap. In the end, the Chiefs won the division by four games. Mahomes and coach Andy Reid are still kings of the hill and deserve to be odds-on division favorites.

Offense

When the Chiefs traded speed-burning wide receiver Tyreek Hill to Miami for five draft picks, many handicappers predicted a decline in the offense. Mahomes said he wanted to prove otherwise. The offense actually improved in 2022 and led the NFL in scoring at 29.2 ppg (up from 28.2 in 2021). Mahomes topped the league in passing yards (5,250) and passing touchdowns (41). The names of the receivers again will change, but expect more of the same from Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce, who totaled 110 receptions for 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns. JuJu Smith-Schuster, the No. 2 receiver, is gone to New England and probably will be forgotten due to the big-play trio of Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore. The running back roles are in good hands with Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The line should be a strength with guards Joe Thuney and Trey Smith and center Creed Humphrey returning. K.C. made big free-agent moves by signing tackles Jawaan Taylor (Jacksonville) and Donovan Smith (Tampa Bay). The return game suffered a setback when Mecole Hardman left for the Jets, but Toney can fill the role, which he showed with a 65-yard punt return in the Super Bowl.

Defense

Pressuring quarterbacks is the calling card of a K.C. defense that ranked second in the NFL with 55 sacks, led by tackle Chris Jones with 15.5. High-motor end George Karlaftis added six sacks as a rookie and has the potential to hit double digits as he refines his pass-rush skills. The Chiefs ranked 11th in total defense (328.2 ypg) and 16th in scoring (21.7 ppg). Veteran end Frank Clark was released, but the additions of ends Charles Omenihu (San Francisco) and first-round pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah should make the front line even stronger. There is plenty of depth and talent at the linebacker spots and in the secondary to make this defense one of the AFC’s best. The tests will come early from opposing QBs Jared Goff (Lions), Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars), Justin Fields (Bears) and Aaron Rodgers (Jets) in the first four weeks.

Outlook

DraftKings has opened Kansas City as the favorite in all 17 games. In a favorable scheduling quirk, three of the league’s elite QBs must visit Kansas City, which hosts Philadelphia (Jalen Hurts), Buffalo (Josh Allen) and Cincinnati (Joe Burrow) in November and December. The Chiefs have won the AFC West seven straight years, so it has become routine to conquer the division. Kansas City’s quest is to become the first repeat Super Bowl winner since the Patriots in 2003-04. It might be considered square to recommend a bet Over 11.5 wins, yet the Chiefs have topped that number in all five years with Mahomes as the starter so there’s no reason to buck the winning trend.

This appeared in the Updated VSiN NFL Betting Guide released on August 31, 2023.

Michael Lombardi: Chris Jones was the best defensive player in the NFL last year. He dominated games and made it impossible for the opposing quarterback to step up and throw. He led the league in quarterback knockdowns and deserves a raise or a new deal. Without him on the field, the Chiefs are vulnerable defensively, and defense is their concern. With Patrick Mahomes’ skill set and Andy Reid’s design of the offense, the Chiefs will score. But without Jones, they will allow points. 

Can they overcome this? Nine of the Chiefs’ 14 wins, including the Conference Championship game and the Super Bowl were within six points. Because of their offense and Jones’s ability to pressure, the Chiefs have found ways to win close games. Without him, it might be a challenge, and this summer, their offense hasn’t looked dominant, even though Mahomes has played. Last year, he attempted 26 passes and completed 18, for 8.5 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. So far this year, before the final preseason game, he has attempted 17 passes and completed 12 for 7.1 yards per attempt and one touchdown. You can say it’s preseason, but so was last year.

Player to Watch: WR Skyy Moore

Targets are available in this offense, as JuJu Smith-Schuster was second to Travis Kelce (152) with 101 tosses in his direction, but he’s now with the Patriots. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was third with 81 targets and running back Jerick McKinnon was fourth with 71. With Mecole Hardman gone as well, Mahomes will be looking for options. Could Moore be that guy? With Kadarius Toney hampered by a torn meniscus early in the preseason, he missed out on valuable reps with Mahomes. Moore, who had 42 targets over 19 games played last season, had four games with a snap share of at least 42% between the regular season and playoffs and had 19 of his targets in those games. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him benefit the most from the departures. – Adam Burke

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