It's safe to say that no one would be surprised if Sunday's showdown between the Chiefs and Saints turns out to be a Super Bowl preview. The defending champion Chiefs are currently the top seed in the AFC, while the Saints are trying to keep pace with the Packers for the NFC's top seed.
The Chiefs, who are 7-0 away from Arrowhead Stadium, are 3.5-point favorites to hand the Saints their second home loss, according to William Hill Sportsbook. The over/under has been set at 51.5 points, which is a little low considering the capabilities of both offenses. Be sure to click here to see how many of our CBS Sports NFL experts pick the Chiefs to win and/or cover the spread heading up to Sunday's game.
Before we break down Sunday's game, here's how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
While Drew Brees is slated to start, the Saints will have Taysom Hill on deck in the event that Brees is not up to pair after missing the past four games. And even if Brees goes the distance, expect New Orleans to have a package of plays for Hill, who is 3-1 as a starter, has completed over 72% of his passes while also rushing for 395 yards and five touchdowns. Hill and the Saints' offense took a step backwards in last Sunday's loss to the Eagles, as New Orleans failed to reach 100 rushing yards as a team for the first time since Week 5. The Saints' offense, a unit that will be without All-Pros in receiver Michael Thomas, will have to lean more on running back Alvin Kamara, who has not gone over 100 all-purpose yards in a game since Week 8. The Saints' offense will face a Chiefs defense that is eighth in the league in points allowed but is also just 26th in rushing, 20th in third down efficiency and 32nd in red zone efficiency.
Patrick Mahomes, who appears to be closing in on his second regular season MVP award, is surely looking to cut down on his mistakes after three of his passes were intercepted in last Sunday's 33-27 win over the Dolphins. Despite the miscues, Mahomes helped lead the Chiefs to victory while connecting early and often to receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. On Sunday, Mahomes and company will face a Saints defense that is second in the NFL in rushing, fourth in scoring and passing, 10th in third down efficiency and 26th in red zone efficiency.
The Saints have several things in their favor entering Sunday's game. Mahomes, who has already been sacked more this season than he was in 2019, will be up against a Saints pass rush that includes Trey Hendrickson (10.5 sacks), Cameron Jordan (6.5 sacks) and David Onyemata (six sacks). The Saints' talented defensive line is completed by a solid secondary that includes veteran strong safety Malcolm Jenkins (67 tackles, two interceptions), free safety Marcus Williams (57 tackles, three interceptions) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (three interceptions, 10 passes defensed). The Chiefs, who have also struggled to run the ball as of late, may consider giving Le'Veon Bell (who had just two carries in last Sunday's win) a bigger role in the offense.
While the Saints' defense should be able to hold their own, the big question is whether or not the Saints offense -- without Thomas -- will be good enough to beat a Chiefs defense that has several standouts in safety Tyrann Mathieu and defensive linemen Chris Jones and Frank Clark. This is where Kamara and the Saints' running game comes into play. If Kamara, Hill and Latavius Murray are able to consistently have success on the ground, that should set things up well for Brees and the Saints whenever they choose to put the ball in the air. The Chiefs have more weapons on offense, but the Saints' defense, as well as their potent rushing attack, might be enough to pull off the upset.
Score: Saints 27, Chiefs 24