NFL Odds: Chiefs vs. Broncos
Despite dropping the last two division games against the spread in their early-season matchups against the Chargers and Raiders, the Kansas City Chiefs have dominated the AFC West, going 29-4 in their last 33 divisional matchups.
Oddsmakers expect Kansas City’s divisional dominance to continue, as the opened the Chiefs as 9.5-point road favorites against the Denver Broncos, who are fresh off an 18-12 upset victory of the New England Patriots. News of an impending snowstorm has brought this total down from the opener of 48 to the current line of 43.5 and the side from -9.5 to -7.
Let’s find out where the betting value lies.
Kansas City Chiefs
Not even a torrential downpour could stop the Chiefs offense from flourishing in last Monday’s win against the Buffalo Bills.
Patrick Mahomes completed 21-of-26 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns with a 128.4 passer rating. Clyde Edwards-Helaire had his first dominant game since Week 1, rushing for 161 yards on 26 carries. The Chiefs gained 466 total yards spreading the ball around to Demarcus Robinson, Travis Kelce, Byron Pringle and Tyreek Hill. Their performance against the Bills serves as a solid test run for the inclement weather they’ll face in Denver with snow on the horizon.
This is still one of the best offenses in the league as they rank ninth in points per game (29.9), second in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, sixth in early-down success rate, seventh in total success rate, eighth in red-zone touchdown percentage — scoring touchdowns on 69.2% of their trips inside of their opponents’ 20-yard line — and seventh in explosive play rate (per Sharp Football Stats).
Le’Veon Bell is set to make his debut, making this offense that much more explosive. Unfortunately they’ll be without RT Mitchell Schwartz, who left Monday’s game against the Bills with a back injury. The Chiefs have already shuffled their offensive line with the loss of left tackle Kelechi Osemele moving Nick Allegretti to left guard and Mike Remmers to right tackle.
The difference between the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs and years past is they can also win games on defense as well. The Chiefs are 10th in defensive DVOA, fourth against the pass and 27th against the run.
Opposing offenses have just a 46% passing success rate but a 58% rushing success rate. In a league in which passing is increasingly more important than rushing, they’re holding opposing quarterbacks to just 208 yards per game and a passer rating of 81.9, which ranks third and fourth, respectively, among all NFL defenses.
They held the Bills to just 206 total yards and quarterback Josh Allen to 14-of-27 attempts for 122 yards passing and a 73.7 quarterback rating. Teams that find themselves behind early against the Chiefs will have a tough time coming back against a defense with Chris Jones and Frank Clark, who is second in pressure rate (30.9%).
After their victory over the Patriots, things might be looking up for the Broncos. They had their season derailed by injuries early on, but last week quarterback Drew Lock and running back Phillip Lindsay returned from injury, and this week Melvin Gordon, Noah Fant and K.J. Hamler will be available to help the offense, as well.
The defense is also getting healthier, as the Broncos will activate cornerback A.J. Bouye and defensive end Dre’Mont Jones off IR with both being available to play Sunday.
Against a struggling Chiefs defense that is giving up 4.8 yards per carry and 145 yards per game (30th), the return of Lindsay and Gordon looms large. Lindsay ran for 101 yards on 23 carries last week. With the impending snowstorm in Denver, we can expect the Broncos to run the ball to protect Lock, who is coming off an abysmal performance against the Patriots. Lock completed 10-of-24 passes for 189 yards with two interceptions and a 34.9 quarterback rating, and appears to have regressed this season after starting his career 4-1.
The strength of this Broncos team remains the defense, and they’re coming off a game in which they held Cam Newton to 157 yards with a 51.6 passer rating.
Denver’s defense forced two interceptions, had four sacks and eight hits. The Broncos are sixth in defensive DVOA, seventh in pressure rate (24.9%) and 12th in sacks (14). In retrospect, holding the Titans to just 16 points in Week 1 says a lot about this defense considering their offensive performance since.
Weather forecasts for Sunday’s game calls for an 80% chance of snow with a temperature in the high teens and 11 mph winds. It’s no coincidence we’ve seen this side and total drop.
Nonetheless, Mahomes is 2-0 in snow games, winning those games by an average differential of 19 points. After starting off his career 9-3 against the spread (ATS) in division games, Mahomes has dropped the last two divisional games ATS, winning in overtime against the Chargers and losing outright against the Raiders.
This feels like a spot in which the Chiefs right the ship against a Broncos team that was the beneficiary of a rusty Patriots team that didn’t practice and gave up three turnovers. Lock should find it tough to keep up with the Chiefs’ offense should they build a lead, however I’m reluctant to lay such a large number on the road given Kansas City’s offensive line injuries, the weather and a low total in conjunction with the high spread.
With the line movement, the Chiefs have entered the teaser range, allowing us to get the Chiefs under a field goal. I’m typically not a fan of teasing road favorites of 7 or more down, but in this season when home-field advantage has been negated without fans, I believe there’s an edge here.
I’m taking the Chiefs in 6-point teasers along with the Lions through the key numbers of 6 and 7.
PICK: Chiefs 6-point Teaser with Lions