Red Zone

Predicting the over/under stats for the Chiefs’ star players

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith. deulitt@kcstar.com

The good folks at Bovada.lv have released the NFL player odds for all 32 teams, including the Chiefs. It’s always fun predicting player performances — especially when you’ve seen 40-plus practices the last four months, like me — so here’s my best guess for each player, and why. All predictions are for the 2016 regular season, by the way.

Alex Smith

Total passing yards: 3,500

Prediction: Over. Smith has never thrown for 3,500 yards in a season, but he was close last year (3,486) and the offensive line should be a little better this year with a big upgrade at right tackle. I also think the offense may have to throw more than did it last year, because the defense might not be as good due to the uncertain status of Justin Houston. The good news is that Smith looked poised and confident in the preseason, and has a terrific grasp of the offense entering his fourth year in Andy Reid’s system. He’s still risk-averse, but he’ll take some shots to the players he trusts (Maclin, Kelce and maybe Chris Conley) and is poised to have his best year as a pro.

Total touchdown passes: 20

Prediction: Over, for the same reasons listed above. The Chiefs are going to pound the rock — believe that — but Smith will have plenty of chances to air it out some.

Total interceptions: 7.5

Prediction: Over, for the same reasons listed above. Smith will probably throw more than ever this year, and while he’s averaged a little under seven interceptions a season as a Chief, an 8- or 9-pick year is certainly a possibility as his touchdown numbers rise.

Total rushing yards: 375

Prediction: Over. Smith had 498 rushing yards last year and given the pride he takes in his running ability — he bristles some at the game-manager label that has been foisted upon him and (correctly) thinks his running adds to his playmaking ability — he won’t stop scrambling any time soon. The danger is that he will get hurt, thanks to all that extra running, but he’s started 46 out of his 48 games as a Chief.

Jeremy Maclin

Total receiving yards: 1,000

Prediction: Over. Maclin barely crossed the 1,000-yard plateau in 15 games a year ago, but I think Smith is going to air it out more this year, and most of the Chiefs’ passing plays are designed with Maclin as the No. 1 target. Those two have a great chemistry and are almost always on the same page, as they rarely have the miscommunication issues of other quarterback-receiver batteries.

Total receiving touchdowns: Six

Prediction: Over. Maclin had eight touchdowns a year ago and I don’t think his targets will fall off this year because again, most of the plays are designed with Maclin as the No. 1 option.

Travis Kelce

Total receiving yards: 850

Prediction: I’ll say under, only because Chris Conley has shown flashes of being an adequate No. 2 receiver and could have more yards (451), targets (57) and catches (35) than last year’s No. 2 receiver, Albert Wilson.

Total receiving touchdowns: Five

Prediction: This is a push. Stay away. Kelce will see a lot of targets and catch a lot of passes, but in the red zone, the Chiefs will likely pound it on the ground and spread it around to the open man, however it might be. That’s just Reid’s way.

Marcus Peters

Total interceptions: 3  1/2

Prediction: Over. Peters continued to show a knack for picking quarterbacks off throughout August, with many of his picks coming against Smith, who Chiefs defenders often complain about being difficult to intercept. The only way he doesn’t get four interceptions is if teams stop throwing his way, and while the Chiefs’ other corner will be targeted plenty, Peters gives up enough completions on double moves that offenses won’t be able to stop throwing his way entirely.

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