The Kansas City Chiefs have been the top team in the AFC all season long and one of the steadiest in the NFL, but on Friday, their world was rocked.
TMZ released a video of an incident from February involving Kareem Hunt in which the Chiefs’ star running back was seen lunging at and later kicking a woman.
The Chiefs acted quickly and released Hunt, which will have a sizable impact on the team but their odds mostly remain unchanged.
The Chiefs futures to win the Super Bowl took a slight tick down in Vegas, from +500 to +550, according to the Kansas City Star, though 888Sport on Monday listed them at +500, tied with the New England Patriots for the best odds in the AFC and the third choice overall.
In Super Bowl betting, 888Sport listed the Chiefs as co-favorites to win the AFC (along with the Patriots) at +200.
Kansas City’s odds on the week-to-week NFL betting spreads likely will remain unchanged. We saw that on Sunday as the Chiefs were a 14-point favorite against the Oakland Raiders and the line didn’t shift upon the news that Hunt was cut from the team.
Impact of Hunt’s Release on the Chiefs
Hunt is a key cog in the Chiefs system. He led the NFL in rushing as a rookie last season with 1,327 yards and compiled 1,782 in total along with 11 touchdowns. He was having an even better campaign this season with 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns through 11 games.
However, the issue is that running backs are not as valuable as they used to be as the NFL has become more of a passing-oriented league. The Chiefs also have a capable running behind him in Spencer Ware, who amassed 1,368 total yards and five touchdowns in just 14 games in 2016.
One of the main reasons why the Chiefs’ betting lines won’t change is because their success is more closely linked to quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the passing game than anything that’s happening on the ground.
The Chiefs lead the NFL with 41 passing touchdowns and are third in the NFL in passing yards per game (317.0). They have 429 passing attempts (13th in the NFL) compared to just 297 rushing attempts (19th), so that gives you an idea of how their bread is buttered on offense.
They call passes on 60.2% of their plays, which is the most of any team with a winning record except for the Indianapolis Colts, Pittsburgh Steelers and Minnesota Vikings.
What This Means for NFL Bettors
There’s no way to frame this as a positive move for the Chiefs as they’re losing one of their key weapons – he likely would have been a Pro Bowler. Kansas City is a young team with a head coach that has experienced many playoff shortcomings and this loss will hurt them come January – especially if they have to face a seasoned team like the Patriots.
Chiefs release Kareem Hunt pic.twitter.com/46VNxBESHu— Tom Brady's Ego (@TomBradysEgo) December 1, 2018
Even before then, the Chiefs have to be concerned with their remaining schedule, as they host the Baltimore Ravens and the Los Angeles Chargers in the next two weeks before visiting Seattle. The Ravens have won three in a row and have the league’s top-ranked defense, the Chargers have won eight of nine and are just a game back of the Chiefs and the Seahawks have won seven of nine.
The Chiefs are the top seed in the AFC right now and hold home-field advantage in the playoffs. If they should happen to lose that valuable edge to a team like the Patriots – or anyone else – the Chiefs odds to win the Super Bowl would take a far greater hit than the loss of Hunt.
Hunt made his first media appearance on Sunday and was contrite in a morning interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters.
The issue is that Hunt had all of this time between February and last Friday to apologize for the incident and own up to it. Instead, he never took the responsibility and even lied to the Kansas City Chiefs front office when asked about it, which is why he was released.