Kansas City Chiefs (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS)
NFL Football Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 27 at 8:30pm ET
Where: Sports Authority Field
by Evergreen, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: KC +3/DEN -3
Over/Under Total: 39.5
Division games are the cornerstones of the NFL schedule and those late-season division tilts that decide who goes to the playoffs and who stays home are must-see TV. Denver hosts Kansas City this weekend in the Sunday Night Football slot with both teams looking to keep pace with the AFC West leading Oakland Raiders. This is the first meeting between these teams this season and the winner leaves Mile High feeling much better about the rest of slate while the loser might just have kissed their chances to win the division goodbye. The AFC West has some of the most hostile places to play a game as a visitor but each of these teams found a way to win in other’s building last season so KC should have plenty of confidence to pull off that trick again.
These teams have proven to be very evenly matched on paper through ten games so it is no surprise to see Denver giving just the standard three that comes with a home game. The Chiefs have been remarkable on the road of late, accumulating an 8-3 record against the spread in the last eleven as the visitor but the Broncos counter with a 6-1-1 ATS mark in the last eight at Mile High. The underdog is 4-0 against the spread in the last four between these teams and the road team is 5-0 ATS as well. The Sagarin computers have the 8th rated Broncos as 4.3 point favorites over the 14th ranked Chiefs and the offense-defense method is predicting a 20-15 Denver win.
After heading into the bye at 2-2, Kansas City managed to rip off five wins before dropping a 17-19 nail-biter at Tampa last week. There isn’t much flash on either side of the ball but the Chiefs are one of the toughest teams to beat as they rarely beat themselves. The offense has found a way to do just enough despite never really having Jamaal Charles contribute and the defense is 7th in points allowed behind a bend-don’t-break style. There is some concern on the injury front as Jeremy Maclin, Charcandrick West and Tyreek Hill are all questionable for the game. The Chiefs aren’t a juggernaut on offense without the injuries and they could use all the playmakers they have as they challenge the 4th rated defense in total yards allowed.
Denver is a no-nonsense squad as well, one that runs the ball to set up play-action and relies on one of the better overall defenses in the league. The Broncos are coming off a bye, which will certainly have helped Trevor Siemian heal up an injured shoulder. He is listed as probable for Sunday Night but CB Aqib Talib is a question mark with an ailing back. After a 4-0 start, Denver has gone 3-3 with losses to Oakland, Atlanta and San Diego. Those aren’t the worst losses you could have but their win against New Orleans before the bye week came via a blocked extra point that was returned to give them 25-23 win. A 6-4 Bronco team welcoming the Chiefs would be in a much more desperate situation. Denver’s big edge will come from their 2nd best pass defense that is allowing less than 200 yards per game. Alex Smith isn’t a gunslinger so he should keep the turnovers low but KC has a major challenge ahead of them to simply move the ball against this secondary.
If KC has its way, there will be plenty of Spencer Ware runs that set up third and short situations. Ware has filled in well in the starter’s role and contributes in the pass game along with averaging nearly five yards per carry. Denver is 29th against the run so you can bet the Chiefs gameplan will test that portion of the defense in hopes of controlling the ball and eventually throwing against eight man fronts. Denver allows less than a 40% conversion rate on third down and KC would do well to just avoid any third and long scenarios. Von Miller has 9.5 of the Broncos 29 total sacks.
Denver will likely run the ball first and often as well. There has been a step down in production after C.J. Anderson’s injury but Devontae Booker should see running room against the 27th ranked run defense of the Chiefs. Siemian is an average thrower but bring an element with his legs that helps extend plays he can scramble for those key conversions. Demaryious Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are talented receivers but they represent the only real targets in the pass game. Both receivers are over 50 catches but no other Bronco has more than 20. It could be a long day for the passing game if KC can bottle up Thomas and Sanders. The Chiefs do not have a dynamic overall pass rush but Dee Ford has gotten home for 10 sacks and pressure on Siemian doesn’t necessarily need to lead to sacks to be a disruptive element.
About 62% of the public money is on Denver and that is understandable after seeing KC lay a bit of an egg against the Buccaneers. The sharp money is also on Denver in the early going and I think that is the right call as well. The injury toll on the KC offense is starting to look like it could be more than they can overcome now that Maclin and Hill are banged up. Alex Smith is a polished passer but only having Travis Kelce as a weapon is a pretty empty cupboard. Denver should have the resources to keep Kelce under wraps and that puts a lot of pressure on Ware’s running as possibly the only method to move the ball. The home field advantage and the bye week will provide big edges for Denver on the emotional side of the coin and the playmaking edge is slightly with the Broncos as well. Lay the three and look for a 24-19 Denver win.
Evergreen’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Denver
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