A pair of former AFC West rivals will take center stage in Week 16 when the Seattle Seahawks host the Kansas City Chiefs. Kickoff is set for 8:20 EST on Sunday, December 23, at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC.
Oddsmakers list the Chiefs as 2.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under for the game is set at 53.5 points. Click here to check out a full list of NFL betting odds and game preview for Week 16.
The Chiefs have been the class of the NFL for most of the season, but they still have a lot left to accomplish before the end of the season. After last week’s loss to the Chargers, Kansas City has to 11-3. That record puts them into a tie with the Chargers atop the AFC West. Unless the Chargers lose during the last two weeks, the Chiefs will have to win their final two games in order to secure the division and avoid having to settle for a wild-card spot.
The silver lining is that as long as the Chiefs win the division, they should also earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If they can survive this week’s trip to Seattle, the Chiefs should feel confident about beating the Raiders at home in Week 17. However, beating the Seahawks on the road isn’t always easy.
Both the Seahawks and their fans should be plenty motivated to win on Sunday. Seattle suffered a stunning loss to the 49ers last week, snapping a four-game winning streak. The good news is that Seattle is still atop the wild-card standings in the NFC. However, last week’s loss definitely complicated their playoff hopes. There are now three teams within a game of them in the wild-card race.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they still control their own destiny. If they win their final two games, they will be in the playoffs, no questions asked. In fact, a win over the Cardinals in Week 17 should be enough to get them to the playoffs. However, a win over the Chiefs and some outside help could clinch a wild-card spot for Seattle and prevent them from having a must-win game in Week 17.
If this game were a straight-up PK, I’d be tempted to take Seattle, so I’ll certainly lean toward the Seahawks as home underdogs. The luster is off the Chiefs just a little with two losses and a couple close calls in their last four games. I also think Seattle’s home-field advantage still means something. It’s enough for me to pick the Seahawks, especially with a small cushion.
As potent as the Chiefs are on offense, it’s hard to look past their defensive shortcomings. Against the Seahawks, in particular, I don’t think the Kansas City defense matches up well. The Chiefs are giving up five yards per carry and over 120 yards per game on the ground. Last week, the Kansas City rush defense was ripped apart by rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome. If you’ve never heard of those players before, you aren’t the only one.
Kansas City’s inability to stop the run doesn’t bode well against Seattle, one of the best rushing teams in the league. Even in last week’s loss, the Seahawks kept plugging away with their ground attack. Chris Carson has gone for 90-plus yards each of the past two weeks. When he needs a little help, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny are usually able to provide some. It’s not a coincidence that Kansas City’s losses and close calls against the Broncos and Ravens have all come against teams that run the ball effectively. That makes the Seahawks a threat.
The Chiefs could also have a problem in the secondary after losing Kendall Fuller to injury last week. When the Seahawks can establish the run, Russell Wilson becomes dangerous in play-action. With deep threats like Tyler Lockett and David Moore, losing Fuller could be a big blow for a Kansas City defense that will need to put extra focus on slowing down Seattle’s rushing attack.
On the other side of the ball, I worry that the Chiefs are becoming too one-dimensional without Kareem Hunt. Spencer Ware remains questionable with an injury while Damien Williams has shown flashes but is still lacking consistency. For the most part, there’s nothing wrong with relying on Patrick Mahomes. However, he’ll be playing in a raucous environment in Seattle that can be tough on opposing quarterbacks. Mahomes has quietly thrown 11 interceptions this season, so he can be vulnerable to turnovers at times.
Of course, the Seattle defense is not the dominant unit that they’ve been in past years. But the Seahawks are only conceding 17 points per game at home this season. The Seahawks are also top-10 in takeaways and second in the NFL in turnover differential, and a lot of that relates to the edge their defense gets at home.
To be honest, I can forgive Seattle’s sluggish performance last week on a short week. Prior to that, they had won four in a row and were really coming on strong. The Chiefs, meanwhile, only have a +6 point differential over the last four weeks, as a few of their flaws have been exposed. For me, that’s enough to take a chance on the Seahawks as home underdogs in a prime-time game.