Broncos vs. Chiefs NFL Picks: Side With Denver +140 & Their Impressive Defense in Low-Scoring Game in Kansas City

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, September 15, 2015 6:04 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 15, 2015 6:04 PM UTC

The Denver Broncos and QB Peyton Manning head to Kansas City to face the Chiefs in a prime time Thursday night AFC West showdown from Arrowhead Stadium.

Both teams were victorious in Week 1, but somebody has to lose here in Week 2, and oddsmakers have surprisingly installed the host Chiefs as 3-point favorites here. Are the numbers guys too high on Kansas City and too low on Manning and the Broncos, who have failed to score a TD in their last 21 possessions? Let’s think about it all and make an NFL pick or three on this game.


Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs [Friday 01:25] (CBS, NFL Network, Directv 212; 8:25 p.m. ET/5:25 p.m. PT) 
The Denver Broncos (12-4, 482 PF-354 PA) pop on over to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City to face the Chiefs (9-7, 353 PF-281 PA) in a huge AFC West showdown in Week 2 on Thursday evening. Oddsmakers opened up the Chiefs as 3-point favorites on Sunday night over the Broncos (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, 5Dimes, Pinnacle) for this game and the Total has been set at 42 (Pinnacle; 42½ Wynn Las Vegas), although as usual, only a couple of major sportsbooks have their lines up and all precincts should be reporting by Monday evening. The Moneyline odds see Kansas City open as -160 NFL odds favorites with Denver priced at +140 on the takeback (5Dimes). An alternate line from 5Dimes has the Chiefs at -2½ -135 (Broncos +2½, +115). And just last Wednesday (5 days ago), the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook Advanced Line on this game was Pick ‘Em. How quickly perceptions change in the NFL.


Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs (11-6 SU overall in 2014, 11-6 ATS) looked pretty good on Sunday, topping the Texans at NRG Stadium in Houston, 27-20 after pulling out to a 27-6 halftime lead. But the Chiefs still seem to be an enigma, steadily improving through the years on the strength of a solid Rushing attack and a strong Defense—Kansas City (28/1 to win Super Bowl, Sky Bet) hasn’t allowed a 300-yard passing game since 2013—while getting absolutely no TDs from the WR position for way too long. Hopefully, the acquisition of Free Agent WR Jeremy Maclin (Eagles; 5 receptions, 52 yards, 9 targets vs. Texans on Sunday) will give Chiefs QB Alex Smith (41-17-1 SU L59 starts) that needed deep threat, but TE Travis Kelce (6 receptions, 106 yards, 2 TDs) is probably the receiver opposing defenses should be watching when it matters most. RB Jamaal Charles (16 receptions, 57 yards) had an average day in Week 1, but when playing the Texans and JJ Watt and Brian Cushing—especially on the Road—that’s to be expected.

But the Broncos probably possess a stronger defense now than does Houston, so Charles and RB Knile Davis (6 rushes, 16 yards) will have to earn what they can get again on the ground. The Chiefs Defense was very impressive against Houston with star OLB Derrick Johnson (8 tackles), Jamell Fleming (7 tackles), Husain Abdullah (7 tackles) and Marcus Peters (7 tackles) all shining, but expect more of a challenge here from a Broncos Offense which has to get into gear quickly after Sunday’s embarrassment in Denver. With Head Coach Andy Reid (20-14 ATS), QB Smith (29-23-2 ATS at Home) and this Defense (281 PA in 204), this Kansas City Chiefs team is now an NFL force to be reckoned with.


Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos (4-4 SU on Road in 2014) and QB Peyton Manning (72-58-5 ATS on Road) struggled to get a win on Sunday in Week 1 at Home against the Baltimore Ravens, but they did, topping the visitors, 19-13 thanks in great part to a great defensive effort. Manning, trying to run Denver’s Offense in the first game under new Head Coach—and former Broncos QB—Gary Kubiak’s new offensive plan was stifling as the 39-year-old QB was sacked 4 times and threw for just 175 yards (24/40) and 0 TDs. Manning has now gone 21 consecutives drives on Offense without a TD—including Preseason—and Totals on Broncos games are dropping due to this and the fact the Broncos Defense looks as good as it has in years.

The Broncos (16/1 to win Super Bowl, Ladbrokes) loss of Free Agent TE Julius Thomas (Jaguars) and WR Wes Welker (Concussion) has obviously hurt, but the combination of Manning aging, losing some mustard on his passes and the implementation of Kubiak’s new Offense has made this team suddenly defensive in psychological nature suddenly wondering why it can’t put the football in the end zone—but still lucky enough to have evolved a staunch Defense to keep them in, and even win games like Sunday.

Another issue for the Broncos heading in here against the Chiefs are Injuries after WR Demaryius Thomas (Hand, Probable; 7 receptions, 60 yards vs. Ravens) and RB CJ Anderson (Sprained Toe, Questionable; 12 rushes, 29 yards) dinged themselves up against Baltimore. But expect both to likely to try to be ready by Thursday night, with this such a big game. Denver KR and S Omar Bolden (Foot, Questionable) also hurt himself in the opener, while DE Malik Jackson (Concussion, Questionable) left the game in the 3rd Quarter because of concussion symptoms, the freakish result of an accidental hit from a teammate.

So if Jackson can’t go Thursday—a short week—the Broncos could be really thin on the DL with Derek Wolfe (4-game Suspension, Violated of league’s performance-enhancing drug policy), NT Marvin Austin (Groin) on the Injured-Reserve list and DE Kenny Anunike (Knee, Questionable) dealing with their own issues. Check the status of all key players close to kickoff. S TJ Ward (Suspension) will be eligible to play for Denver. Expect CB Aqib Talib and the Denver Defense to continue to impress and WR Emmanuel Sanders and the Broncos Offense to steadily improve with players like RBs Ronnie Hillman and Anderson, WRs Thomas and Sanders and TE Owen Daniels providing most of the yardage and points. With a little help from Manning, of course.


Series Trends and Expectations
This is a tough game for both teams, but Denver’s 6-0 mark against the AFC West last season must be noted, In fact, Denver is a dominating 17-1 SU over the L3 season against their division, only losing to the San Diego Chargers at Home in Denver, 27-20 in the 2013 Regular Season. The Chiefs (10-6 ATS in 2104, 1-0 ATS in 2015) and QB Smith (22/33, 243 yards, 3 TDs) did look fairly good on Sunday, but remember that Kansas City jumped out to a 27-6 lead in the 2nd Quarter, benefited from 3 Houston TOs and scored 0 points in the 2nd Half. Last season in this game at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 12, the Broncos won, 29-16, as 1-point Favorites and Trend-wise, Denver has W6 straight against the Chiefs, the Broncos are 5-1 ATS the L6 here at Kansas City as well as 4-1 ATS in the L5 meetings overall.

Taking that Key Number of 3 points and the Underdog Broncos in a perceived low-scoring game here with a team like Denver which will expect to win seems ideal, even if Manning does look a little rusty and old. Things that are rusty and old are usually good enough to be kept. And things that are rusty and old often get better as the weeks progress. Taking the Broncos (5-1 ATS vs. AFC West in 2014) and crafty veteran Manning and this staunch Defense here plus the 3 points (is the call and even getting a little on the Moneyline (+140, 5Dimes) seems prudent with the Under (42, Pinnacle) seeming like an equally valuable play. Don’t fall for narratives that Denver is slipping and that Manning is done.

After running the Offense himself and calling audibles for years and seldom getting hit, Manning’s suddenly trying to learn and run Kubiak’s Offense with slower feet and a weaker arm while taking more hits than ever because of an average OL. Expect Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison to make week-to-week adjustments to make things easier and more productive for all involved.

Predicted Final Score: Denver Broncos 17 Kansas City Chiefs 16

NFL Picks: Under 42.5 (Wynn Las Vegas), Broncos +3 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Broncos Moneyline +140 (5Dimes)

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