On the NFL handicappers’ calendar, this week is circled. It’s written about year after year, and those of us who write it never get tired of it. Andy Reid is coming off the bye, and that’s bad news for the other side.
When a bear comes out of hibernation, he’s hungry for a win.
In his coaching career, Reid is 15-2 the week after the bye, including 2-1 with the Kansas City Chiefs. Maybe it’s a random record, or the byproduct of fortunate scheduling, but anything that has hit 88 percent of the time will grab the attention of gamblers.
The Chiefs opened the week as 1-point underdogs Sunday at Oakland, and the line has moved to Kansas City minus-1½ at most Las Vegas books. Reid-ing between the lines, that’s partly due to bettors looking at the bye week trend.
Also consider these trends in the Chiefs-Raiders rivalry — the road team is 15-5 against the spread in the past 20 meetings, and the Chiefs are 10-3 ATS in their past 13 trips to the “Black Hole” in Oakland.
And, finally, think about how poorly the Raiders have performed at home under coach Jack Del Rio, who’s 2-8 ATS after failing to cover twice as a home favorite this season.
After reading all of that, one might ask, why would the Raiders even bother to show up this week?
Well, they will show up because this is a new and improved Oakland team — 4-1 and full of confidence — and this is not the same Kansas City team that reeled off 10 consecutive wins to finish the 2015 regular season. The Chiefs (2-2) were crushed 43-14 at Pittsburgh before the bye.
The Raiders will show up because Derek Carr is not Ryan Fitzpatrick, the clumsy New York Jets quarterback who was picked off six times in Kansas City’s most recent win in Week 3. Carr is completing a higher percentage of his passes (66.8) than in past years. He has 11 touchdowns, two interceptions and speed receivers in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree.
Still, off a bad loss and a bye, Reid probably will coach up the Chiefs and get their best effort. If not, this column topic will be buried next year. But this week, my money is riding on Reid, and I’m siding with Kansas City.
Four more guesses for Week 6 (home team in CAPS):
49ers (+9) over BILLS: Colin Kaepernick gets the start at quarterback for San Francisco, and while Kaepernick could be rusty, he should be better than Blaine Gabbert. The 49ers rank No. 8 in rushing offense at 121.4 yards per game, and their ground attack will be the key to staying in the game. Buffalo is rarely in this role as a big favorite.
Rams (+3) over LIONS: Detroit is riding high after a win as a home ‘dog. But this is a role reversal for the Lions, who have covered four of their past 11 home games. The Rams need to get Todd Gurley going, and he should have success against a Lions defense that ranks 30th in the league, allowing 4.9 yards per carry.
PACKERS (-4) over Cowboys: A dominant offensive line is Dallas’ strength. But will Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott find many running lanes against a Green Bay defense that ranks No. 1 against the run by allowing 2.0 yards per carry and 42.8 yards per game? At some point, the Packers will bust loose offensively. Uncharacteristically, Aaron Rodgers has squandered several scoring opportunities.
Jets (+7½) over CARDINALS: After a three-game losing streak, this is probably the Jets’ last chance to revive their playoff hopes. The heat is on coach Todd Bowles. Arizona, 4-8 ATS in its past 12 home games, appears priced too high.
Last week: 3-1-1 against the spread
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports betting columnist Matt Youmans can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts “The Las Vegas Sportsline” weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM). Follow on Twitter: @mattyoumans247