Back Broncos to Cover +3 vs. Chiefs With Your NFL Picks for Thursday Night Football

Jason Lake

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 5:47 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015 5:47 PM UTC

Is it time to send the Denver Broncos to a nice farm upstate? People seem quite willing to add the Kansas City Chiefs to their Thursday Night Football picks this week.

Jason's 2015 record as of Sept. 15: 4-3 ATS; 2-2 Total

It's the No. 1 topic around the water cooler. Peyton Manning is 39 years old, and no matter how much chicken parm he eats, Manning's golden right arm will eventually turn to lead. It may have already happened; Manning was held to 175 yards passing in Sunday's 19-13 win over the Baltimore Ravens (+4.5 away). If it hadn't been for Denver's defense, the Broncos would already be 0-1 this year.

They could be 1-1 after Thursday night's matchup (8:25 p.m. ET, CBS/NFLN) with the Kansas City Chiefs. When we published our opening odds report, the Chiefs were pulling in 60 percent consensus as 3-point home faves. That's pretty much where things stand at press time, although the juice on that line has increased from –105 to –120. It won't take much more to break the seal and move the Chiefs to –3.5 on the NFL odds board.

Broncos vs. Chiefs Over / Under Pick

Broncos Player Props

Chiefs Player Props

Bad Quarterback
Of course, that might be the plan for some pro bettors. Putting a little money on Kansas City at –3 and a lot of money on Denver at +3.5 could pay off handsomely come Thursday night. But it also requires some chutzpah. According to the stats at Football Outsiders, Manning ranked No. 32 out of the 35 quarterbacks who played in Week 1, posting –104 Total DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement). That was worse than both Cleveland's Johnny Manziel (–60 DYAR) and Houston's Brian Hoyer (–65 DYAR).

Then again, you can't entirely adjust away how good Baltimore's defense is. Same goes for the Broncos, who held Ravens QB Joe Flacco to the worst Week 1 performance of them all at –178 DYAR. This could be one of the very best defenses in the league; Football Outsiders projects Denver to finish No. 3 in defensive efficiency. Recreational bettors tend to overlook defense in favor of offense, and with the panic surrounding Manning's arm, that should go double for the Broncos D.


Texas Hash
The Chiefs don't have the same defensive jam as Baltimore has – or had, before LB Terrell Suggs tore his Achilles. Kansas City projects to finish No. 14 in defensive efficiency, and while things went well in last week's 27-20 win over Hoyer and the Texans (+1 at home), that's Hoyer we're talking about. Are we really at the point where Hoyer > Manning?

We're betting otherwise. The preferred play here might be on the moneyline with the Broncos at +150, but for the purposes of this column, we're going to recommend Denver for a small bet ATS. Consider holding off to see if the line reaches +3.5 before jumping on board with your NFL picks, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

NFL Pick: Take the Broncos +3 (+105) at GTBets

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