The Broncos are the best bet for Sunday as they face the Chiefs, who were served up an early slice of Thanksgiving humble pie, losing to the then-winless Raiders in Oakland in Week 12.
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
The defending AFC champion Denver Broncos (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) head to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri to face the Chiefs (7-4 SU, 8-3 ATS) in a crucial AFC West showdown on Sunday Night Football in a game which will probably matter a little more to the host Chiefs who were stunned by the then-winless Oakland Raiders in their last outing. And that certainly can’t be good for the old Red-and-Gold psyche. Prior thoughts of staying away from this game have suddenly gone up in smoke as the combination of Kansas City losing, the Broncos rallying to beat the upstart Dolphins in Denver last Sunday and the beyond-gaudy, now Liberace-like 11-1 SNF Over Trend is just too much to resist on a Thanksgiving weekend Sunday night.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s NFL 2014 Games of the Year opened this game at Broncos -3½ this summer and the same sports book’s renowned Advanced Line for Week 13—released Wednesdays—had Denver as 2½-point Favorites in NFL odds and by the time the regular line opened up Monday, the Broncos were at 1½. The Total Points here is 51 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), but offshore (Tuesday afternoon), there were 49½’s showing (Pinnacle, SIA). The Money Line (Winner) market prices Denver at -120 with Kansas City at +100 (bet365) while the Broncos Total Team Points is at 25½ (BetVictor) with the Chiefs Total Team Points set at 24.
The Denver Broncos and QB extraordinaire Peyton Manning (301 completions, 3,358 yards, 34 TDs) looked like they were going to lose to the Dolphins last Sunday at Home in The Mile High City but in typical Superhero fashion, Manning rallied the troops and lead Denver to a thrilling 39-36 win. The Broncos still have some key players injured and banged up like TE Julius Thomas (40 receptions, 426 yards, 12 TDs)—who is listed as Questionable with a bad ankle—but with underrated WR Emmanuel Sanders (76 receptions, 1,079 yards, 7 TDs/14.2 ypc) okay after suffering a concussion, WR Demaryius Thomas (82 receptions, 1,192 yards, 9 TDs) and WR Wes Welker, Uncle Peyton still has enough toys in his cabinet to have a good time and find a way to rally the troops by Air.
Besides the aforementioned status of TE Thomas, other injuries affecting the NFL odds for Denver are RB Montee Ball (groin) is out until early December, RB Ronnie Hillman (91 rushes, 378 yards, 3 TDs) has been upgraded (foot) to Questionable for Sunday’s game while CB Kayvon Webster (shoulder), LB Brandon Marshall (concussion) and CB Aqib Talib (hamstring) are all listed as Questionable.
Kansas City Chiefs
It’s not printed in the NFL bylaws, but it is Common Knowledge these days that if you lose to the Oakland Raiders you are not allowed to win, and most times not even allowed to even get to the Super Bowl. And so it is written as so it shall be. The Chiefs will definitely be a test here for the Broncos, and with the #1 Pass Defense in the NFL (198.9 ypg), probably think they can shut down Manning from finding everyone everywhere but the Kansas City defense was pretty mortal against Oakland. And with the Chiefs ranking #26 against the Rush, expect Broncos head coach John Fox to try to run the ball as much as possibly early on to try to open up the pass game later on, although the pass is sort of like the run for the visitors.
Kansas City lost to the Broncos, 24-17 in Week 2 in Denver and will need to do everything right and will probably have to have a monster game from RB Jamaal Charles (152 rushes, 772 yards, 8 TDs) in order to have a chance to top Denver here, which is gaining much wisdom and confidence from watching Old Man Manning do his thing, week-in and week-out.
On offense, expect the Chiefs to pound Charles and Kansas City does have the #4 Rushing attack in the league thanks to Charles, Knile Davis and a decent OL. But one reason I like the Broncos here is that the Chiefs could have some serious trouble trying to rally from behind with such an anemic Passing attack (#31 in the NFL). When your main WR (Dwayne Bowe) still doesn’t have a TD and it’s past Thanksgiving, well, then, the fruitcake is in the mail or something, brother. Why even bother to have WRs? Kansas City—which was just 3-for-16 on 3rd Down against the Raiders in that 24-20 loss—will try to avoid from getting down and potentially being in that situation here against Denver, but one mistake from QB Alex Smith and this baby could be a blowout.
The Chiefs also got some bad news early in the week when star S Erik Berry had to be placed on the Non-Football Illness List after doctors discovered a mass in his chest. WRs Donnie Avery (groin) and Junior Hemingway (concussion), CB Chris Owens (knee), S Jarnell Fleming (hamstring) and OL Donald Stephenson (shoulder) were all listed as Questionable on Tuesday.
Best Betting Approaches and Trends
In its last 5 trips to Kansas City, Denver has gone 4-1 SU and the Broncos are 5-0 SU in their L5 against the Chiefs and 6-3 ATS the L9, so, laying just 1½ with the better team in a game where they can put some distance between themselves and their opponents in the AFC West seems to be the way to go. The Chiefs have really improved and are, and will be a force to be reckoned with but it’s the games like this which separate the wheat from the chaff and it seems to me that the Chiefs are the chaff.
And as far as the Total, with the Overs on Sunday Night Football at 11-1, why wouldn’t you play it here with Manning in the saddle? The Broncos are 8-3 Over, the Total has gone Over in 7 of Denver L8 games and is 16-8 in the Broncos L24 on the Road, so it seems points almost have to be scored according to The Football Gods. But the Under is 5-2 in the L7 Chiefs games and 6-2 in the L8 in the series and Kansas City (5-1 L6 SU) will no doubt try to control the ball and hopefully the game through the rush while hoping its top-rated Pass Defense can get a pick or two and get in Manning’s skull.
And although two picks are provided below for you consideration, the Broncos seems to be the stronger of the two despite the primetime TV and SNF Over trend(s) as Manning knows how much easier a win here in Kansas City would make the journey down the remainder of the Broncos schedule as well as keep Denver on New England’s (9-2) tail in the race for the AFC Home Playoff edge. The Broncos will think they can and should beat Kansas City here and will do everything in their power to do so to set themselves up for December.
Free NFL Pick: Broncos -1½, Over 51