By Abraham Gutierrez
The Oakland Raiders and the rest of the AFC teams still in the hunt for an NFL playoff berth will be rooting for the Miami Dolphins in Week 16. That’s because on Sunday, the Fins will travel to a hostile Arrowhead Stadium to try and upset the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s worth noting that Miami will have to defy some serious NFL Week 16 odds if it wants to get out of KC with an improbable road victory. The last time the Dolphins went into a game as double-digit underdogs was less than two weeks ago versus another playoff-bound team—the New England Patriots.
In a game that left most observers scratching their heads, the Fins dominated Tom Brady and the Pats on their way to a shocking 27-20 win. Needless to say, head coach Adam Gase and his staff must be meticulous in their game-planning in order to have a repeat performance.
Luckily, there are some areas the Fins can exploit going up against a Kansas City team that, thus far, have had nothing short of a rollercoaster-type of season.
Chiefs 2017 NFL Record: 8-6
In his fifth season as Chiefs head coach, Andy Reid will be looking to lock in the team’s second straight AFC West title and the franchise’s seventh divisional crown. After getting off to a blistering 5-0 start, everything appeared to be in place for KC to run away with the division.
However, Reid’s bunch hit a rough patch midway through the season, undoing their early work by losing six of their following seven contests. Luckily, this team has shown a great deal of resiliency by coming into Week 16 riding a two-game win streak and in control of their destiny in the AFC West race.
Chiefs on Offense
Offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is in charge of a Chiefs unit that’s full of weapons, which will make things very difficult for the Fins defense. With quarterback Alex Smith (466-of-316 passes, 3738 yards, 25 TDs, 5 INTs, 105.4 QBR, 56 rushes, 70 yards, TD) running the show, Kansas City’s offense comes in ranked sixth in points (25.6), fifth in total yards (373.1), seventh in passing (252.4) and 10th in rushing yards per game (120.7).
Chiefs on Defense
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is in charge of a resistance that’s sure to give Miami some scoring opportunities. Easily considered the Achilles heel of this organization, Kansas City’s defense is currently ranked 28th in total yards (368.6), 27th in rushing yards (122.9), 26th in passing yards (245.7) and 14th in points per game (21.6).
Nevertheless, Jay Cutler and the Fins’ fragile offense must be weary of where certain players are on the field at all times. Strong safety Daniel Sorensen leads the team in tackles with 85 (63 total, 22 assist; 1.5 sacks, 4 PD, INT), while outside linebacker Justin Houston will be trying to get to Cutler as he leads the team in sacks (9.5) to go along with 56 tackles (44 total, 12 assist).
Chiefs Players to Watch: Kareem Hunt, Marcus Peters
On offense, there’s no doubt that the Chiefs will rely heavily on speedy running back Kareem Hunt. The rookie out of Toledo is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 1,201 on 242 carries and six touchdowns to go along with 49 receptions for 440 aerial yards and three additional scores.
On the opposite side, cornerback Marcus Peters (44 tackles) will be licking his chops anticipating this matchup. In his third year out of Washington, the team-leader in interceptions (5) and forced fumbles (3) could be in for a career-day with Dolphins quarterback Jay Cutler (14 interceptions, 5 fumbles) under center.
NFL oddsmakers have very little faith in Miami’s chances of getting out of KC with a victory. In fact, NFL Week 16 point spreads indicate that the Kansas City Chiefs (-10) are favorites by a touchdown and a field goal against the Miami Dolphins (+10). The OVER/UNDER for this intraconference clash is set at a combined total of 44 points and straight-up money-lines go as follows: Dolphins (+330) vs. Chiefs (-420).
Miami comes in with an ATS record of 5-7 on the season, while Kansas City mirrors its straight-up mark of 8-6 against-the-spread as well. For what it’s worth, ATS trends dictate that the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings, which means the smart money might be on the Dolphins. The Fins are 5-1 in their last six games played in the month of December and the Chiefs are 5-2 in their last seven contests that took place in final month of the year.