"Monday Night Football" this week features the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the New York Giants, and if you had said before the season that these two teams would be separated by one win, I'd have said you were nuts. It might also have been more likely that the Giants were having a great start than the Chiefs would have a losing record.
Both teams are familiar with this prime-time slot. The Giants lost both MNF tilts last year, falling to the Steelers and Buccaneers, while Kansas City picked up a win over the Ravens. And it was an ugly affair the last time these two teams faced off back in 2017 as the Giants won 12-9 in a game that featured five field goals and a touchdown run from Orleans Darkwa.
The 2021 edition of the Giants (2-5) are feeling good after a dominant 25-3 win over Carolina at home last week. They held the Panthers to 173 yards of offense and just 11 first downs. Daniel Jones was an efficient 23-for-33 for 203 yds and a touchdown. The team did struggle scoring touchdowns as Graham Gano connected on field goals from 44, 49, and 53 yards out.
The Chiefs (3-4) are not feeling as good after a 27-3 loss at Tennessee. Kansas City has lost four of its last six after a season-opening win over the Browns. Patrick Mahomes was the team's leading rusher with just 35 yards. He also managed just 206 yards through the air before leaving the game in the fourth quarter after taking a knee to the head. The defense continued to struggle, giving up 379 yards and allowing the Titans to control the ball for more than 36 minutes.
Monday Night Football: New York (2-5) at Kansas City (3-4)
Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 1 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: Chiefs -9.5
Three Things to Watch
The Giants are hitting the road after two straight at home. Sometimes bad teams can build off solid wins like New York had last week. There really shouldn't be an issue with focus considering up next is a home matchup with the Raiders in Week 9 before a Week 10 bye. Kansas City may have a confidence issue after another brutal loss. The Chiefs can't afford to overlook this contest with the division getting away from them a bit. Up next is a high-profile matchup Sunday at home against the Packers.
2. Bad offense vs. bad defense
The Giants have the 26th-ranked rushing offense to go along with the 13th-ranked passing attack. Kansas City has the 27th-ranked rushing defense and the 26th-ranked passing defense. By the numbers, Jones should be able to find some success, but this also is the same team that has cracked the 20-point mark just three times over seven weeks. Devontae Booker's best rushing effort came last week when he had just 51 yards on 14 carries. Booker continues to full in for Saquon Barkley, who hasn't been able to practice since injuring his ankle in Week 5.
Because of the Giants' inability to run, teams have been able to load up the blitz against Jones and cover his wide receivers, who also have been in and out of the lineup. Barkley and Kenny Golladay (knee) have already been ruled out, but the team is hopeful of getting both Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Kadarius Toney (ankle) back. They and tight end Evan Engram (calf) have been limited in practice but all three are trending in the right direction. New York may not have the same firepower on offense that Kansas City possesses but getting a few key pieces back should help even things out a bit, especially given the Chiefs' defensive struggles.
3. Is that you, Patrick?
Mahomes' 206 passing yards last week were his lowest output since Oct. 25, 2020, when Mahomes put up 200 yards on the Broncos in a 43-16 victory in Week 7. He already has thrown nine interceptions, tying him with rookie Zach Wilson for the most in the NFL. It's also one more than he threw all of last season, including three playoff games (18 total). He's had just one turnover-free game so far, and that was back in Week 1. To be fair, a few of the interceptions were on tipped passes, but it's clear that something is off with Mahomes.
The Giants haven't been terrible against the pass this season, ranking 13th at 243.1 yards per game allowed. But they've also given up 14 touchdown passes compared to six interceptions. Monday night represents as good an opportunity as Mahomes and company will have to start turning things around, especially since it seems like the offense will have to carry this team if the Chiefs are to become a real threat in the AFC.
Most seasons, this wouldn't even be a question, as I'd take the Chiefs and spare you the word count. I'm still going to take Kansas City in this one because of home-field advantage and I still trust Mahomes more than Jones. I also lean to the better head coach in Andy Reid over Joe Judge, who I'm convinced isn't that great at his job. For one week, all will be well in Kansas City as the Chiefs get the much-needed win on Monday night.
Prediction: Chiefs 27, Giants 20
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.