Denver Broncos (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-4 SU, 8-3 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date and Time: Sunday Night Football, November 30, 2014 at 8:30PM EST
Where:Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
by Scott, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DEN pk/KC pk
Over/Under Total: 49.5
In a big AFC West matchup, the Denver Broncos come into Arrowhead to face the Kansas City Chiefs. This game could go a long way toward determining a division champion. Denver is coming off a 39-36 win over Miami, after 3 touchdowns in the 4th quarter snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Kansas City last played on Thursday, losing to the Oakland Raiders, 24-20.
In week two, the Chiefs went into Denver, dropping a 24-17 result to the Broncos. It certainly didnt help that KCs top offensive player, Jamaal Charles, went down with an injury early in the game. He will be back and is healthy and on quite a nice little roll. Chiefs QB Alex Smith wasnt very accurate, but still threw for 255 yards, making a nice connection with TE Travis Kelce. But the Denver passing-game was a bit too good, with Peyton Manning having a good game. The Chiefs were right in that game and now at home, could things turn out a little different?
The Broncos trailed Miami 28-17 heading into the final quarter of Sundays game, before Peyton Manning started hooking up with his vaunted pass-catching crew, while relying on something the Denver offense hasnt always had–a good run game. They were banking on Montee Ball, until he got hurt. Next up was Ronnie Hillman, who did well before falling to injury. Enter little-known CJ Anderson, who ran for 167 yards on the ground and a touchdown. Since gaining more playing time, hes been great in the run and has also caught 16 balls in just 3 games.
Anderson adds an interesting wrinkle to an offense that already has an abundance of talent. Demaryius Thomas is at 1192 yards receiving, with speedy Emmanuel Sanders at 1079. They are the top-leading and 4th-top receiver in the NFL and thats without mentioning Wes Welker or Julius Thomas, who has caught 12 touchdown balls. Manning has thrown 34 touchdowns. The virtues of this offense have been roundly extolled.
Kansas City relies on a good ground game, with a defense that is really tough, especially on teams like Denver that rely so much on the pass. The Chiefs can really rush the passer and have the top-ranked passing defense in the league. It really hurt that they lost Eric Berry to a scary-sounding health crisis. But this is a defense that has more than held its own. With Charles in full-bloom, the run-game is clicking nicely, while Smith picks his spots with Kelce, Dwayne Bowe, Anthony Fasano, and Donnie Avery through the air.
Smith has only thrown 4 interceptions and has again been the portrait of consistency. But it is still the 31st-ranked aerial attack in the NFL. Especially in games like this when theyre on the road against a high-octane offense, youd ideally like to see a team with some explosive potential. And while KC has playmakers, their inability to get vertical in the pass really hurts.
Normally when a team yields the first win to a long-winless team, its a reason for concern. But the Chiefs, with 5 straight wins and 7 in 8 games, were perhaps due for a disappointment. The Raiders, chomping at the bit for their first win, played a really good game and were clutch late. These things happen and one could be mistaken in perceiving it as a coming-down-to-earth period for the Chiefs. For a team that started 0-2, they have done awfully well for themselves. Its a well-coached team that extracts the most out of what it has. And lets not forget how hard it can be for a team to do well at Arrowhead. So far this season, Seattle and New England have both fallen at Arrowhead and the Chiefs now look to add another big name to that list.
Even though it is the Chiefs coming off a loss, the tough question is figuring out where the Broncos stand at this point. Things could have easily gone different last week, which would have given the Broncos their 3rd loss in 4 weeks. They won and thats what counts. On one hand, going 2-2 in 4 games is hardly cause for alarm. But the Broncos hardly look like the terror that was bowling over teams left and right a month or two ago.
The Denver run-stop, which was beautiful earlier in the season, has been less dominant in recent weeks. There were some games where opposing running backs were getting close to nothing off the Broncos defense and that hasnt ben the case over the last month or so. And the Denver offensive line, which has been reshuffled a bit, has looked more out-of-sorts in recent weeks. Well see how these areas come along in the next few weeks.
These teams match up well despite Denver having a cast of offensive players that surpasses Kansas City by quite a margin. And Denver, with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware pressuring he quarterback, should be able to trouble Smith, while keeping Charles from running absolutely wild. Even so, this might be the biggest regular season game for the Chiefs this season. They seem slightly more together than the Broncos at this particular point in time. I look for a pumped-up Chiefs team to find a way to get it done on Sunday for the big win and cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Kansas City Chiefs in a pick-em.