Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs have officially rejoined the chat. Four straight wins, including a defeat of a true contender in the Cowboys on Sunday, have given the Chiefs legitimate championship buzz and promise that they have resolved their earlier issues, particularly on defense.
Super Bowl odds
Kansas City (+750) is the second favorite behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (+600) and certainly had some intriguing value a month ago at 13-1 odds. In my eyes, the Chiefs still seem too sloppy, and Mahomes is still not the amazing version who won the 2018 MVP. But the defense, which has not allowed more than 17 points during this four-game run, has shown drastic improvement.
With five straight wins and covers, the New England Patriots (15-1) just might be the AFC's best team. Bill Belichick is pushing all the right buttons on defense, and rookie Mac Jones is evolving into a respectable quarterback. The Pats are now in first place in the AFC East and still have two remaining meetings with the Buffalo Bills.
Following their upset win in Buffalo, the Indianapolis Colts (30-1) seem like a team that is destined for the playoffs. A week ago, I supported a play at 30-1 to win the conference, and they demonstrated that potential by winning at The Ralph.
The NFC still feels like a mess at the top, but the Arizona Cardinals (+900) flexed their muscles again, improving to 2-1 without Kyler Murray. The Los Angeles Rams (+850) have shorter odds, but the Cardinals are well positioned to win the division and maybe even earn the conference's top seed.
Tampa Bay snapped its two-game skid and seemingly has the easiest remaining schedule. Then again, the Bucs are 0-5 ATS on the road this season, so let's not overreact to a home win over a reeling Giants squad without a competent quarterback.
Super Bowl futures
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +600
Kansas City Chiefs +750
Buffalo Bills +800
Los Angeles Rams +850
Arizona Cardinals +900
Green Bay Packers +1000
Dallas Cowboys +1100
Baltimore Ravens +1200
New England Patriots +1500
Tennessee Titans +1800
Anyone else kicking themselves for not firing on Mahomes at 60-1 a couple of weeks ago? He's now the fifth favorite at 9-1 and could continue this run. That's because the AFC is wide open, so K.C. can actually still land a top-two seed, which is typically a requirement for an MVP quarterback.
It's hard to find value with anyone else right now. Tom Brady (+275) is rightfully the favorite, but the other NFC first-place teams all lost or the star QB did not play. As for the AFC, Mahomes delivered, but Josh Allen (6-1) and Lamar Jackson (13-1) did not advance their campaigns. Let's not even start legitimizing rookie Mac Jones (300-1) as a candidate.
Along those lines, we also need to pump the brakes on the Jonathan Taylor (20-1) hype. To me, it's a preposterous notion. I agree he's going to lead the league in rushing and is a major part of Indy's offense. However, he's a running back, and they just do not get the love that quarterbacks do. Eventually a QB from a top-two seed will assert himself.
I would need Taylor at 35-1 or better to become even remotely interested in a wager. Obviously racking up five touchdowns in one game is amazing, and if he continues to do that, he will deserve the award. But I am going to go out on a limb and say that type of production will not continue. Saying he's the MVP so far is laughable, considering Indy is not even a playoff team right now. Projecting him to win the award is another conversation, but it's not one I am willing to have just yet.
Other awards to watch
The Coach of the Year Award race looks like it will come down to three guys. I championed Belichick at the beginning of the season at 18-1 and even last week at 12-1. At DraftKings, Belichick is the second favorite at +500 behind Kliff Kingsbury (+400). Mike Vrabel (+600) has done an amazing job, but he might fade in this race if Tennessee struggles down the stretch without the injured Derrick Henry. I think Belichick eventually wins this thing because he will get all the credit for the stout defense and grooming a rookie QB. He can still win it, even if New England qualifies for the postseason as a wild-card team.
I have mentioned this in previous columns, but it's hard to envision Dak Prescott not winning Comeback Player of the Year. He's -400 right now at DraftKings. It is never fun to lay that kind of juice, but serious injury is the only thing preventing this ticket from cashing. Joe Burrow (+600) and James Conner (10-1) could conceivably win this award, but it would take a lot.