It's fun to jump on the bandwagon. Sparks fly as the hype train leaves the station, hopefully heading to a gold rush. If this was a movie, everyone would reach the end game happy. But sometimes, the hype train is a one-way ticket to disappointment along with the rest of the public. You don't want to be left holding a losing bet slip, muttering, "would've, could've, should've."
In the sports betting world, there's a delicate balance between a smart bet that the public is on, and a line that has taken on so much public steam that it's time to go look somewhere else for value. That's what I'm setting out to do for you this season -- help you spot those differences and think critically when you see something on TV, hear it again on a podcast, and then see it all over your social media feeds the rest of the week.
When I told my editor how many Taylor Swift song titles I could potentially fit into one article (not seven, not 15, not 22, but likely over 80), he should've said no to this idea. But James is the man, and I appreciate him for letting me have some fun with this piece this week.
I know there are a bunch of John Doe's and Stephen Q's out there complaining about the Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift hype, upset about all the buzz this is creating. So it goes ...
Dear John. Hey Stephen. I can see you being upset. But you need to calm down. Let people have their happiness. Don't blame me just because everything has changed. A relationship like this just hits different when two pop culture worlds collide. Long story short, you need to stop being mean about this potential love story and accept that it's going to be part of the discourse for the near future.
The Kelce-Swift news certainly took social media by storm, but it had other widespread effects. DraftKings offered a special "Red Zone Romantic" same-game parlay on Sunday that included Kelce, before it was even announced that she was at the game. Over 11,000 people placed that bet.
It's safe to say that Kelce had the best day ever on Sunday, catching a touchdown in a blowout win over the Bears with Swift in attendance. The two left together in a getaway car after the game, so it's about as official as it can get.
Erin Andrews had the postgame interview with Patrick Mahomes following the victory, and one of the two questions was about getting Kelce a touchdown because Swift was in the building, which Mahomes admitted was on his mind.
Kelce's jersey sales spiked nearly 400%, according to Fanatics. He moved up into the top-five-selling jerseys on Sunday.
The buzz has continued all week long. At Caesars Sportsbook, the line opened at -8.5 for Kansas City's next game against the New York Jets on Sunday night. That has already been bet up a full point to -9.5, and I wouldn't be shocked if it moves past that when the public starts betting more heavily on the weekend.
As of Tuesday, 94% of bets on the KC-NYJ spread at DraftKings were backing the Chiefs, the most lopsided spread bet in Week 4.
Early public Week 4 NFL sides (70%+ of bets) at @DKSportsbook:— Ben Fawkes (@BFawkes22) September 26, 2023
94% on Chiefs -9.5
85% on Vikings -3.5
83% on Bengals -2.5
79% on Seahawks +1.5
78% on Lions -1.5
77% on Chargers -6
76% on Eagles -8
72% on Broncos -3
71% on Dolphins +3
If you were hoping to catch a lull in Chiefs futures, you probably missed the boat on that, too. The Chiefs have the second-shortest odds of any team in the NFL to win their division, conference and the Super Bowl, and Mahomes trails only Tua Tagovailoa in the MVP betting market.
Welcome to New York, Travis Kelce! The hallowed, holy ground of MetLife Stadium beckons.
The Chiefs haven't had any champagne problems coming off last season's Super Bowl win; the one-point loss to the Lions on the very first night of the season is the most adversity they've faced all year (Kelce didn't dress for that game). But Kansas City was able to shake it off.
For once, the Jets didn't have a cruel summer. Aaron Rodgers even played in a preseason game in August. But in Week 1, the offensive line couldn't keep a clean pocket and New York lost its superstar for the season. It lost last week to Bill Belichick's Patriots, the last great American dynasty, and it wasn't pretty.
Zach Wilson has shown the Jets that "this is me trying," and Robert Saleh and the Jets have essentially responded "you're on your own, kid," with no mention of acquiring a veteran quarterback to come in on a white horse to save the team's season. This is why we can't have nice things. Zach, as a Jets fan, I hope that sometime soon, you'll get better so the season isn't a loss. All New York needs to succeed at quarterback is Mr. Perfectly Fine, not Superman.
This game feels like a lopsided affair at first glance, but dear reader, are you ready for it?
I may be sent into exile after this take, but I'm not sure I'm willing to take a side on this game. Call it what you want, but the numbers don't lie.
Mahomes knows all too well what it's like to be a heavy favorite; this is nothing new. It would be the 27th time in his career that he's favored by at least 9.5 points, including the playoffs. He's only 13-13 ATS in those 26 games (and 4-4 ATS since the start of last season).
Only three of those games came on the road. The Chiefs failed to cover in all three games. In my wildest dreams, I would not have expected Mahomes to fail to cover against the likes of Jeff Driskel and Drew Lock, but sometimes the truth is sweeter than fiction.
If you lower the threshold to 7 points, Kansas City is 8-14 ATS in its past 22 games as a touchdown-or-better favorite. On the road, the Chiefs have failed to cover five of the past six instances.
The Chiefs' defense is significantly worse on the road over the past two seasons compared to at Arrowhead Stadium, where the crowd and weather conditions often play into Kansas City's favor. The Chiefs allow 20% more points on the road and allow opponents back into games.
If we want to play into the narrative angle, there's a couple of reasons to shy away as well. If Mahomes is dead-set on getting Kelce a touchdown early on, the Chiefs might struggle to move the ball by forcing it to one man instead of taking what the defense gives them. Outside of a backdoor cover, a slow start is the easiest way to lose a double-digit spread.
Now I'm not saying to take the Jets plus the points, either. ESPN analytics has this game projected as a 9-point spread, so it actually opened with some value on the K.C. side before moving a half-point in the other direction. I think there are better ways to play this game, so I will stay, stay, stay away from the 9.5-point spread.
And what about the report that Swift is going to be in attendance Sunday? We know how much star quarterbacks can move the spread, but there's very little data on significant others affecting line movement.
The bets to make
If you think Kelce can find some blank space in the end zone and score a touchdown, I'm not gonna stop you from playing that prop (-160 as of Wednesday night). The Chiefs always manage to score touchdowns with players so far down the depth chart that it leaves you saying, "I forgot that you existed," but Kelce is one of the best tight ends in the league, and the strength of the Jets' defense comes on the outside against wide receivers. Mahomes is also one passing touchdown shy of becoming the fastest quarterback to reach 200 in his career in NFL history, so it would be appropriate for that first touchdown to go in Kelce's direction (he's +330 to score the first touchdown).
Given the amount of public hype for this game, and the fact that books have days in advance to build out a marketing campaign, I would be shocked if we don't see a profit boost or odds boost at most books on a Kelce anytime TD, first TD, or parlay with the moneyline/spread. Keep your eyes peeled!
Kelce's yardage total is listed at 71.5, and his skill set matches up well with New York. The Jets' treacherous zone defense can appear like a labyrinth at times, ranking first in opponent QBR while using it on 64% of opponent dropbacks since the start of last season. But don't you worry: Mahomes isn't haunted by zone defenses. He keeps his eyes open and finds daylight for his pass-catchers, ranking among the top three in QBR, yards per attempt and first down rate against zone coverage in that span. It's like there's an invisible string tying Mahomes and Kelce together.
Chiefs -2.5 and under 48.5 points (-130)
Here's a relatively safe and sound same-game parlay if you still want to ride with Kansas City on Sunday night:
The Chiefs' ATS record isn't spectacular as huge favorites, but they have won 17 straight games when laying at least 9.5 points.
You have to go back to December 2017 to find the last time the Jets beat the Chiefs.
Andy Reid is a fearless offensive mastermind. I think he knows a way to solve this talented Jets defense, whether it's through the air with Mahomes or scheming up some gadget-style plays in the run game. There's no better man for the job than Big Red.
The Jets' last nine conference games have gone under the total.
Eight of Wilson's past nine starts have gone under the total.
Chiefs' first offensive drive: no score (-105)
The Chiefs' potent offense tends to glitch at the start of games, having scored 39 points on 20 opening drives since the start of last season, which ranks 19th in the NFL. They've scored on only eight of those 20 drives and have failed to score on all three opening drives this season. It's possible to find this bet at even money on other books as well, so shop around.
Chiefs' second quarter -3.5 (-108 on DraftKings)
Now in the second quarter, that's when things change for the Chiefs' offense. Over the past three seasons, Kansas City has averaged 9.3 points in second quarters, the second most in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Jets rank second-to-last in second-quarter scoring and have the worst point differential in that span. You can bank on Mahomes' electric touch for some points heading into halftime.
Good luck this weekend! May all the bets hit: yours, mine, and ours.
Congratulations if you found all 80-plus Taylor Swift song titles hidden in this article. Some are obvious, some not so much.