As Indianapolis gets ready to host the Kansas City Chiefs in the first playoff game of the year, my AFC wild card expert pick is ultimately coming down to a decision based on faith. Either you believe in Andrew Luck and Chuck Pagano, or you trust that Andy Reid has much more left in his bag of tricks than we’ve seen in recent weeks. It’s a harder choice than you might imagine.
On paper, the Chiefs are simply a better team but they haven’t looked like an elite squad in nearly two months. At just 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS in their last 7 games, the Chiefs basically cruised in to the playoffs after an undefeated start to the season. They lost two dog fights against Denver during that rough second half, and with those defeats came the reality that the division title was probably out of reach.
Kansas followed up a three game losing streak with two outright decimations of Oakland and Washington on the road. After that came a Week 16 playoff preview against Indy, who steamrolled Alex Smith 7-23 in perhaps the worst game that Kansas played all year.
If I made my AFC wild card expert pick on that game, the Colts would be the logical choice. But I think that the Chiefs have been playing possum. This is a staggeringly deep squad that will enter the post season with a fully healthy defense as James Houston makes his return to the lineup this weekend.
The Colts were a bit of a fraudulent team this year. When they played well, they played extremely well. But they also picked up horrifying, recent losses to Arizona, St. Louis and Cincinnati where they were blown out and never got their offense rolling. Of course, they finished strong with a +19.3 point differential over their last three games while going 4-1 SU and ATS in their last 5.
There are a lot of AFC wild card expert picks that will tell you that it’s not how you start the season, it’s how finish it. There’s a lot of credence to that expression and if you were to make a play on this AFC wild card betting line based on that phrase, the Colts would be the play. And they’re not a bad play at all.
I just haven’t forgotten the flashes of brilliance that Kansas City showed throughout the year. There was Jamaal Charles’ 5 touchdown game against Oakland, the fact that they went toe-to-toe with Denver twice and demolished opponents on the road this year with a 7-1 ATS record against the closing line.
We’ve seen this before: some teams play possum heading in to the stretch, just like Baltimore did in 2012. That’s why my AFC wild card expert pick is leaning towards the road dogs in this one. I have much more faith in Kansas City than most people do, and while I am a huge fan of Andrew Luck overall, I can’t bet against a Chiefs team that is stacked with Pro Bowlers and a coach that knows how to get the job done in the playoffs.