The Kansas City Chiefs have had quite the roller coaster of a season so far.
Preseason expectations were high for the 2010 AFC West champs, but after they lost tight end Tony Moeaki in the final 2011 preseason game, things went downhill -- fast.
In the first two weeks of the season, the Chiefs not only lost safety Eric Berry and star running back Jamaal Charles, either one of whom could be considered the team's best player, to season-ending injuries, but lost the two games by a combined score of 89-10.
When teams lose by that much, it doesn't help bettors who back them. The Sweat Barometer, cooked up by Behind the Bets boss Chad Millman and Sal Selvaggio of Madduxsports.com, measures the margin by which teams cover -- or don't cover -- the spread (if you need an explanation, see the box to the right).
In Kansas City's case, the latter was far more appropriate, as over the aforementioned two weeks the Chiefs had an unspeakably bad SB number of minus-37.5.
Since Week 2, though, something remarkable has happened: The Chiefs are covering the spread ... and winning games. Kansas City is 4-0 ATS, 3-1 SU and has a remarkable SB number of 14. Has this run been full of dominating wins against the NFL's top teams? Certainly not. In fact, serendipitous timing has played a role in several of the games:
• In Week 4, the Chiefs beat a mentally defeated Minnesota Vikings team that was reeling after three straight blown double-digit second-half leads, 22-17.
• In Week 5, the Chiefs fell behind 24-7 to the Indianapolis Colts (yes, you read that correctly), before scoring 21 unanswered points to win 28-24.
• In Week 7, the Chiefs had the good fortune of facing Kyle Boller and an ill-prepared Carson Palmer in Oakland. The result: a 28-0 laugher.
Geoff Kulesa of Wunderdog Sports concurs: "The Chiefs are under the radar, but the excitement needs to be tempered by the fact that, much like last year, Kansas City has benefited from a weak schedule. This season, the Chiefs are 1-3 SU versus winning teams and 2-0 versus losing teams. They are ranked near the bottom of the NFL in yards (303) and points (17.5) per game. This Chiefs team still has major concerns and I wouldn't read too much into its 4-0 ATS run."
This week the Chiefs, at home, are 3.5-point underdogs against the San Diego Chargers and the public is backing San Diego to the tune of 69 percent. This, despite the fact that in Week 3, at home, San Diego squeaked out a 20-17 win over Kansas City -- as a 14-point favorite.
Let's just review a few fun facts about the Chargers this season:
• While they are 4-2 SU, they're only 2-4 ATS and have an SB number of minus-3.75, ninth-worst in the NFL.
• They choked away a second-half lead last week, are 1-2 on the road and Philip Rivers is only the 15th-best quarterback in the NFL right now, according to Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.
• They are ranked 24th in the NFL with a minus-9.2 percent DVOA by FO; the Chiefs are ranked 23rd, with a minus-8.8 percent DVOA.
In other words, despite the talent discrepancy, Football Outsiders has these teams as essentially even at the moment and one (Kansas City) has momentum going into this game. Plus, as Dave Tuley from ViewfromVegas.com points out, NFL home underdogs of 3.5 points or less are 12-8-2 ATS this year, a solid 60 percent after tossing out the pushes.
Here's the Week 8 NFL Sweat Barometer: