Now that Kareem Hunt has been banished from the league—albeit—much like Reuben Foster, his absence is probably only temporarily—the Chiefs will have to respond on the field after one of their most talented players was caught on tape allegedly assaulting a woman.
Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards during his rookie season in 2017, and this season, he’d racked up 824 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns to go with seven more receiving scores on 27 catches and 378 yards. Aside from quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Hunt was probably the player the Chiefs could least afford to lose for the rest of the year.
But he’s gone (and deservedly so), and now, Kansas City will have to find a way to replace his skills on offense. Is it possible? Can the Chiefs still be considered a Super Bowl favorite after saying goodbye to one of their most explosive weapons?
Without him in Week 13, Kansas City scored 40 points and gained 469 total yards, the fourth most of the season in both statistical categories. But that was against the hapless Raiders. What happens this Sunday when the Chiefs face the Ravens (who allow the least amount of points in the league) or the Chargers (a top-10 defense) in Week 15?
Running back Spencer Ware will likely get the most carries the rest of the way. But his best season came in 2016 when he gained 921 yards, and he missed all of last year with a knee injury. Damien Williams, meanwhile, has played in the NFL for five years, and he’s gained just 516 yards and scored three touchdowns in 70 games. He’s had slightly more success as a receiver. Still, he’s probably not the savior.
And here’s the hard truth. The Raiders are the second-worst rush defense in the league. Ware gained just 47 yards on 14 carries. Williams added 38 yards on five carries. Neither was a threat in the passing game. And Mahomes led the team in rushing.
That doesn’t bode well for the rest of the season. It puts more of the burden on Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. It makes the Chiefs a little more one-dimensional. And in reality, it could be the difference between a Super Bowl and an early playoff exit.
Now, on to the Week 14 picks.
1) Bet your life savings on this game*
Bengals at Chargers
It’s safe to say that Cincinnati is done for this season. After losing Andy Dalton for the year and star receiver A.J. Green for the remainder of the season, the Bengals got blasted at home by the Broncos. The offensive line is beaten up and patched together, and the defense is still a problem. Meanwhile, the Chargers are coming off one of their most impressive victories of the season—a 33-30 victory at Pittsburgh—and they’ve won eight of their last nine. Quarterback Phillip Rivers is playing at a ridiculously high level, and this might be the year his team gets him the NFL title he deserves. Cincinnati won’t serve as much of a roadblock. Take the Chargers with ease at home.
Straight up: Chargers
Against the spread: Chargers -14
2018 record for the “Bet your life savings” game: 10-3 S/U and 8-5 ATS
2017-18 record: 24-8 S/U and 17-15 ATS
2) This game scares the hell out of me
Vikings at Seahawks
I love this battle between two teams who are vying for NFC wild card spots. Both are currently in line to make the playoffs, and this game scares me because of it. The Vikings are just kind of puttering along, winning a game or two here and losing a few there, and the Seahawks are on a three-game winning streak. But Minnesota probably has more talent on offense. You just never know what you’re going to get from the Vikings. The Seahawks are probably grittier and hungrier, and they don’t have a truly bad loss on their record. Still, for whatever reason, I don’t have a ton of confidence in Seattle. The Seahawks, though, are at home, and in the end, that pushes me in their direction. But just barely.
Straight up: Seahawks
Against the spread: Seahawks -3.5
2018 record for “This game scares the hell out of me:” 7-6 S/U and 7-5-1 ATS
2017-18 record: 17-15 S/U and 17-13-2 ATS
3) Fun game of the week
Rams at Bears
What’s going to be fun in this matchup is seeing if the Bears are really for real. We know the Rams are. But the Bears are still a question. Sure, they were missing their starting quarterback, but losing to a bad (but maybe improving) Giants team last week wasn’t a great sign. Chicago probably will win the NFC North and make the postseason, but who knows what’ll happen once the playoffs start. Maybe a home game vs. the Rams this week—maybe if they can even hang close with the Rams—will give us a sign. Mitch Trubisky will probably at quarterback for the Bears. It’ll be fun to see how well he can do against perhaps the best team in the league.
Straight up: Rams
2018 record for the “Fun game of the week”: 7-6 S/U and 6-6-1 ATS
2017-18 record: 20-12 S/U and 16-14-2 ATS
2018 record for every game picked in this column: 24-15 S/U and 21-16-2 ATS
2017-2018 record for every game picked in this column: 61-35 S/U and 50-42-4 ATS
2018 overall record on Pickwatch: 116-73 S/U and 86-99 ATS
S/U ATS TEN over JAC TEN -4 BUF over NYJ BUF -3.5 CAR over CLE CAR +1.5 GB over ATL ATL +6.5 KC over BAL KC -6.5 NE over MIA MIA +7.5 NO over TB NO -8 NYG over WAS NYG -3.5 IND over HOU IND +4.5 LAC over CIN LAC -14 DEN over SF DEN -5.5 DAL over PHI PHI +4 PIT over OAK PIT -11 DET over ARI DET -2.5 LAR over CHI LAR -3.5 SEA over MIN SEA -3.5
*Don’t really bet your life savings. Please.