This week’s picks, 98.5 percent Tebow-free…
Peter King, Sports Illustrated: Patriots 31, Chiefs 10. The story is so neat: Tyler Palko, cut in the NFL (Arizona) and United Football League (California Redwoods) and unable to crack the Montreal Alouettes lineup in 2009, makes his first NFL start in Foxboro. On Monday night, Palko should find out that Bill Belichick — and more importantly, rejuvenated pass-rusher Andre Carter — are not actors in a Disney movie.
ESPN.com staff: Patriots across the board (Ron Jaworski, calling the game, doesn’t pick).
CBS sports staff: Patriots across the board.
Pete Prisco, CBS sports: Patriots 30, Chiefs 13. This is Tyler Palko vs. Tom Brady. No, really. With Matt Cassel out for the year with a hand injury, Palko will start against the Patriots. Wonder if ESPN wished they had the ability to flex out of this one? Look for Brady and the Patriots to roll easily here.
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 45, Chiefs 10. “The Eagles let us down big-time last week, so we’ll go a little “safer” this week. The Patriots won’t need to face injured ex-Pat Matt Cassel at home on Monday night, and Bill Belichick should be ready to cook up some defensive confusion for Tyler Palko. In Week 10, the Chiefs lost to Denver despite giving up only two pass completions. They can expect Tom Brady to do a lot more damage through the air against their secondary this week.”
Mike Florio, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 38, Chiefs 13. “Scott Pioli makes his return to New England. Both he and the Patriots would likely be better off if he stays.”
Gregg Rosenthal, ProFootballTalk.com: Patriots 31, Chiefs 14. “This game also looked a lot better two weeks ago. The Chiefs were on top of the AFC West. Now they are the team that scored scored 13 combined points at home against Miami and Denver, then lost their starting quarterback. A UFL team wouldn’t have cut Tyler Palko if he were still better than Joe Flacco.”
Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 34, Chiefs 10. “Let me count the ways this Monday nighter might be a mismatch. Patriots a very strong home team on a 9-1 Monday run. Tom Brady against a mediocre Chiefs pass-D. Matt Cassel out injured and green Tyler Palko starting. (Palko? Isn’t that a Japanese bread crumb?) The rare ‘dog getting more than 14 points usually is a safe bet, but I’d sooner see a rout by English eliciting a rare hint of a smile from dour Bill Belichick.”
Peter Schrager, Foxsports.com: Patriots 37, Chiefs 20. “Before the season, this one was supposed to be about Matt Cassel going up against his former teammate Tom Brady and Scott Pioli going head to head with his former colleagues in New England. Now? It’s Tyler Palko, Jackie Battle and a disheveled Todd Haley in a sand-blasted baseball cap on the road against one of the best home teams in the sport. Yeah, so you’ll probably be watching something else by the third quarter.”
Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times: Patriots 35, Chiefs 17. “The Patriots tend to keep focused on the task at hand, especially at home when the weather turns cold. Without Matt Cassel, the Chiefs will be hard-pressed to make a game of it.”
Globe staff: Four out of five (Chris Gasper) pick New England. (Patriots by 15).
It says here: Patriots 31, Chiefs 20. A little Tyler Palko magic. Not a lot, but a little.