Chiefs vs. Dolphins Prediction: Best Bet for NFL Wild Card, Jan. 13

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Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes looks to pass against the Buffalo Bills during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 in Kansas City, Mo.
(Reed Hoffmann/AP Photo)
Nick Hennion @nickhennion Jan 12, 2024, 2:10 PM
  • The Kansas City Chiefs are 3.5-point favorites against the Miami Dolphins.
  • The teams met earlier this season in Germany; Chiefs won 21-14.
  • Why points will come at a premium Saturday in Kansas City.

Ahead of Saturday’s AFC wild-card matchup in Kansas City, I’m here to offer a Chiefs vs. Dolphins prediction. 

Both teams enter this game fresh off Week 18 losses. Kansas City rested starters in a loss to the Chargers, while Miami fell at home to the Bills. 

These sides met earlier this season in Frankfurt, Germany, with Kansas City earning a 21-14 win. 

Here’s a look at NFL betting lines for Saturday’s game, along with my bets for the contest. 

Chiefs vs. Dolphins Betting Odds

  • Kansas City Chiefs Moneyline: -185
  • Miami Dolphins Moneyline: +150
  • Game Spread: Kansas City Chiefs -3.5
  • Game Total: 44 Points

Chiefs vs. Dolphins Betting Predictions

Chiefs-Dolphins Total Under 44 Points (-110)

As referenced, these teams combined for only 35 points in an earlier meeting this season.

With horrible weather expected Saturday in Kansas City, it’s difficult to foresee a different game script. 

Plus, this game matches multiple historically profitable betting systems. 

First, games featuring high winds tend to finish under the total. Since 2003-04, outdoor postseason games with minimum 10 mph winds are 30-16-2 to the under. 

When the total is 42 or higher, it’s 23-12-1 to the under. 

Plus, outdoor playoff contests featuring a non-divisional matchup are also historically profitable. Over the same span, such contests are 87-64-3 (57.6%) to the under. 

Just in the last two seasons, such games are 12-4 to the under, including 4-2 in the wild-card round. 

Beyond those trends, it’s worth noting both teams possess outstanding defensive units. 

Excluding Week 18, Kansas City ranks sixth in defensive EPA per play and third in defensive success rate. 

Head coach Andy Reid’s side also surrendered only 16.8 points per game at home this season, the fifth-best mark in the NFL. 

As for Miami, they ranked seventh in defensive EPA per play and fifth in defensive success rate with Jalen Ramsey in the lineup

Truthfully, what this bet comes down to is Miami’s ability to stop Kansas City’s offense. 

The Dolphins are averaging only 17.7 points per game against fellow playoff teams this season, so they need to hold Kansas City to 24 points or fewer. 

Given the weather and the fact the Chiefs mustered only 21 points against Miami in Germany – seven of which came via a defensive score – I’ll trust Miami’s defense on the road.

Travis Kelce Over 56.5 Receiving Yards (-125)

This is a terrible matchup for the Dolphins, who struggled last week against the position and don’t perform well against tight ends. 

For the entire season, Miami ranks 30th in pass defense DVOA against opposing tight ends, surrendering 55.5 receiving yards per game. 

Just last week against Buffalo, they allowed 84 receiving yards to Dalton Kincaid. 

Plus, they’ll face Kelce without Jerome Baker, Bradley Chubb and Andrew Van Ginkel. In their respective position groups, all rank 12th or better in PFF’s coverage grades. 

Although Kelce notched only 14 receiving yards in the first head-to-head meeting, he’ll play this game on extended rest. 

He’s also proved a preferred target of Patrick Mahomes against man coverage, which the Dolphins deploy at a 60% rate. 

In such situations, Kelce received 20.2% of all Chiefs targets. Plus, in six games against teams that primarily play zone, Kelce cleared this number four times. 

As a result, back him to clear what feels like a low number.

Travis Kelce Anytime Touchdown (+110) vs. Miami Dolphins

Who does Miami have left to cover Kelce in the red zone? 

The Dolphins have experienced terrible injury luck in recent weeks and will play Saturday without Jerome Baker, Bradley Chubb and Andrew Van Ginkel. 

Those players should be applauded for their ability to rush the passer, but hidden is their outstanding coverage ability. 

Amongst edge rushers, Chubb and Van Ginkel rank second and third, respectively, in PFF’s coverage grade. Amongst linebackers, Baker ranks 12th in PFF coverage grade. 

That leads virtually no quality linebackers to match up with Kelce, who leads the Chiefs in red zone targets. 

It’s also the perfect buy-low spot on Kelce, who hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 11. 

However, he has 11 red zone targets in Weeks 12-17, including two or more in four of those six games. 

Finally, Miami has surrendered a touchdown to opposing tight ends in two straight games. 

Take Kelce to score as a result.

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About the Author

Nick Hennion

Read More @nickhennion

Nick Hennion is a senior content writer for BetMGM. His previous stops include VSiN, NBC Sports, The Action Network and Forbes Betting. He owns a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree from Northwestern University.

Nick Hennion is a senior content writer for BetMGM. His previous stops include VSiN, NBC Sports, The Action Network and Forbes Betting. He owns a bachelor's degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree from Northwestern University.