In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds
Chiefs vs. Broncos Prediction
Sports Authority Field, Denver
Table of Contents
- Introduction & Team Review
- The Running Game
- The Passing Game
- Final Outlook & Prediction
- Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com
- Latest Updates, Injury Reports, & Line Movements
- Insiders' Best Bets
Last Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 4:48pm EDT
A pair of AFC West teams lock up in the opening game of the week 7 NFL slate in the Mile High City. The Kansas City Chiefs are on the road as they make the trip to face the Denver Broncos Thursday night. Kansas City came up a 31-24 home loser to Houston in their last contest Sunday afternoon. Denver recorded a dominating 16-0 home win over Tennessee in their previous contest Sunday afternoon. The Chiefs own a 63-54 advantage in the all-time regular-season series and have taken the last seven meetings. Last season, Kansas City prevailed 27-23 on the road on October 1, 2018 and 30-23 at home on October 28, 2018.
Kansas City Chiefs Review
Kansas City started the season where they left off last year but hit a speed bump of late. The Chiefs opened the season with four straight victories, rolling over the Jaguars (40-26) and Raiders (28-10) before winning a pair of close games over Baltimore (33-28) at home and Detroit (34-30) on the road. Kansas City has battled through injuries to skill position players but they’ve been held in check for long stretches in the last couple of games. The Chiefs were neutralized by the Colts in a 19-13 home loss in week five before falling to Houston at home last week. Perhaps a change of venue will help rejuvenate Kansas City.
The Chiefs got off to a strong start against Houston but wilted as the game wore on and couldn’t make clutch plays on either side of the ball late in the contest. Kansas City led 17-3 after the opening quarter but gave up 20 second quarter points to trail by six at the half. The Chiefs regained a 24-23 lead after three quarters but was ground up on a 12 play, 93 yard drive that chewed up 8:32 off the clock, leaving them down with just over six minutes to go: they gave up a two-point conversion that put them down seven. Kansas City went three and out on their ensuing possession before seeing Houston grind out the final 5:03, in part by converting a 4th and 3 coming out of the two-minute warning. The Chiefs were outgained 472-309, allowed 35 first downs while picking up 20 and were dominated in time of possession by a 39:48 to 20:12 margin. Kansas City did force three turnovers but committed a pair in the defeat.
Denver Broncos Review
Denver looked dead in the water after the first four weeks of the season as the team struggled to get things going for first-year coach Vic Fangio. The Broncos started the year with four straight losses, including a pair at the final gun on field goals, leaving many to wonder if this was another wait until next year for the team. Denver was beaten on Monday Night Football to open the season, falling 24-16 on the road against the Raiders. That was followed by a 16-14 home loss to Chicago on a 53-yard field goal at the final gun. Denver then lost at Green Bay (27-16) and at home to Jacksonville (26-24), again giving up a field goal on the game’s final play. Things have turned around in the last couple weeks as the Broncos beat the Chargers (20-13) before dropping the Titans: can the Broncos’ defense swarm Patrick Mahomes and company here for a third straight win?
The Broncos were aggressive defensively against the Titans and that helped them earn a second straight win. Denver’s defense carried the way in the game as the team mustered only one touchdown. That proved to be enough as Denver recorded seven sacks, intercepted three passes and held the Titans to only 39 yards on the ground with a 1.9 yard per carry average. The Broncos owned a 270-204 edge in total offense despite getting edged 12-11 in first downs and a 30:14 to 29:46 disadvantage in time of possession. Denver did force three turnovers while committing only one: Phillip Lindsay scored the lone touchdown in the game on a two-yard run while Brandon McManus booted three field goals. That was more than enough in this contest.
The Running Game
Kansas City Chiefs Running Offense
Denver Broncos Running Defense
Kansas City Chiefs Running Offense
The rushing attack was a secondary option for Kansas City last season and things aren't all that different so far in 2019 either. The Chiefs are intent on trying to do damage through the air and making the run game only relevant when it comes to trying to bleed the clock or to set up something else. Kansas City was relatively effective pounding the ball against the Jaguars in the opener, picking up 26 carries for 113 yards and a score, but things tapered off in week 2. The Chiefs were completely bottled up by the Raiders' run defense as they ran the ball 22 times for only 31 yards in the victory. Kansas City was more effective on the ground against Baltimore as they ran the ball 26 times for a season-high 140 yards plus a score. The Chiefs followed that up with 25 carries for 123 yards plus three scores against the Lions in week four but they’ve been held in check the last two weeks. Kansas City struggled against Indianapolis (14 carries, 36 yards) and Houston (11 carries, 53 yards, TD) in the last two weeks heading into this contest.
LeSean McCoy, who was picked up after the Bills cut him at the end of preseason, leads the team with 48 carries for 258 yards plus two scores on the year. Damien Williams has 32 carries but has totaled only 63 yards plus a score. He's missed a couple of games already this season with a knee injury. Darwin Thompson (four carries, nine yards) and Darrel Williams (17 carries, 75 yards, two TD) are further down the pecking order in the run game. Kansas City has five run plays that have covered at least 20 yards this season while picking up 36 first downs via the ground game.
Denver Broncos Run Defense
Denver’s run defense has been pretty solid this season, holding four of six foes under 100 yards and 3.5 yards per carry. The Broncos look to continue that trend and keep themselves in the game. Denver held Oakland to 28 carries for 98 yards plus two scores in the opener before giving up 29 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown against the Bears. The Broncos held Green Bay in check (23 carries, 77 yards, two TD) before getting gashed by Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars to the tune of 38 carries for 269 yards. Denver has been stingy the last two weeks, stifling the Chargers (16 carries, 35 yards) and Titans (21 carries, 39 yards) in victories.
Justin Simmons leads the team with 30 tackles (21 solo) on the season for the Broncos from his safety position. Linebackers Todd Davis (29 tackles) and Josey Jewell (27 tackles), along with cornerback Kareem Jackson (27 tackles, forced fumble) plus nose tackle Shelby Harris (23 tackles) are among the team leaders in stops. Bradley Chubb (21 tackles, forced fumble) leads the team with five tackles for loss while DeMarcus Walker (12 tackles) has four and Derek Wolfe (16 tackles) adds three of his own. The Broncos, as a team, have recorded 29 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery on the season.
- 28th in run play percentage (33.98 percent)
- 28th in rushing attempts per game (20.5)
- 24th in rushing yards per game (82.7)
- 20th in yards per carry (four)
- Tied for 16th in rushing TD (five)
- Tied for 15th in longest rush (41 yards)
- 21st in percentage of run plays against (42.58 percent)
- 19th in run plays per game against (25.8)
- 18th in rushing yards allowed per game (111.8)
- 17th in opposing yards per carry (4.3)
- Tied for 14th in rushing TD allowed (five)
- 29th in longest rush allowed (81 yards)
Who has the Edge?
This one is tough sledding for the Chiefs, who haven't shown much of a penchant for running the ball this season. McCoy has been their most effective rusher, which is saying something seeing that he was cut before the season started by Buffalo. Damien Williams has struggled to average two yards a carry this season and has dealt with injuries as well. Denver's run defense has been stout for the most part, barring when Leonard Fournette ran wild on them in week four. The Broncos stifled the Chargers and Titans in their last two games and they should bottle up the Chiefs as well.
Advantage: Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos Running Offense
Kansas City Chiefs Running Defense
Denver Broncos Running Offense
Denver’s run game has been up and down as they likely need to move away from the time share situation that they have been going with and turn the lion’s share of the workload over to one guy. The Broncos ran the ball 23 times for 95 yards against Oakland in the opener and followed that with 24 carries for 90 yards against Chicago. In the last four weeks, Denver has run for 100 yards three times as they went for 149 yards plus a score against Green Bay, 191 and a score against the Chargers and 103 plus a score against the Titans. In the one game they fell short of the century mark in that span, they had 16 carries for 68 yards against Jacksonville in week four.
Phillip Lindsay leads the Broncos on the ground with 84 carries for 397 yards and four scores this season. Royce Freeman is the second back in the system with 66 carries for 284 yards while Joe Flacco is a distant third with 11 carries for 11 yards on the season. As a team, the Broncos have five run plays of at least 20 yards: Lindsay leads the team with four while Freeman has the other. Denver has moved the chains 31 times on the ground so far this season.
Kansas City Chiefs Run Defense
The Chiefs have had their problems stopping opposing on the ground this season, much as they did in 2018. Kansas City suffers at stopping opposing teams as their bend but don't break strategy led to some quick strikes by the opposition. The Chiefs have had their struggles so far this season as they've given up more than five yards per carry in four of their six contests. Kansas City allowed 16 carries for 81 yards to Jacksonville in the opener and saw the Raiders run the ball 19 times for 129 yards in week 2. The run defense continued to be an issue as Baltimore pounded the ball on the ground 32 times for 203 yards and four scores. Kansas City’s struggles continued as the Lions (35 carries, 186 yards), Colts (45 carries, 180 yards, TD) and Texans (41 carries, 192 yards, three TD) have sliced through the Chiefs defense.
Linebacker Damien Wilson (forced fumble) leads the team with 40 tackles on the year. Corner Kendall Fuller (31 tackles, Anthony Hitchens (27 tackles), Charvarius Ward (36 tackles, forced fumble) and Tyrann Mathieu (29 tackles) are among the team's leaders in tackles. Emmanuel Ogbah (21 tackles, forced fumble) leads the team with 4.5 tackles for loss this season. Fuller, Tanon Kpassagnon (13 tackles, forced fumble) and Frank Clark (12 tackles) each have four tackles for loss. As a team, the Chiefs have racked up 27 tackles for loss while forcing seven fumbles and recovering four so far this season.
- 10th in run play percentage (43.58 percent)
- 13th in rushing attempts per game (27.2)
- 14th in rushing yards per game (116)
- 15th in yards per carry (4.3)
- Tied for 19th in rushing TD (four)
- 21st in longest rush (32 yards)
- 25th in percentage of run plays against (44.98 percent)
- 30th in run plays per game against (31.3)
- 30th in rushing yards allowed per game (161.8)
- 30th in opposing yards per carry (5.2)
- Tied for 29th in rushing TD allowed (eight)
- 19th in longest rush allowed (51 yards)
Who has the Edge?
Kansas City has had a miserable time stopping the run, even when they know it's going to be coming. The Chiefs have given up more than 125 yards on the ground in each of their last five games and more than 175 in each of their last four contests. Teams have pounded the rock against the Chiefs with regularity and it's paid big dividends. Denver is doing a decent job on the ground of late: Lindsay is clearly the lead back in the system but the workload split needs to skew more his way. The Broncos should take advantage of the soft Kansas City front seven.
Advantage: Denver Broncos
The Passing Game
Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense
vs. Denver Broncos Passing Defense
Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense
One thing that we saw last season was that the Chiefs were aggressive with their aerial assault. The fact that Patrick Mahomes won the league MVP last season by lighting up opposing defenses is something that isn’t overlooked but is hard to stop nonetheless. Even with opposing teams knowing that the passing attack is the key of Kansas City's offense, it's something that has worked in the first six games of the season. The Chiefs threw for 378 yards in the opening game of the season and piled up 443 yards through the air against the Raiders last week. Even with the ground game being more effective against Baltimore, Kansas City racked up another 374 yards through the air in the week 3 win. The Chiefs posted 300-yard performances against the Lions (315 yards) and Colts (321 yards) before falling short in the loss against Houston (273 yards) last week.
Mahomes has hit on 147 of 230 passes for 2,104 yards with 14 touchdowns and one interception on the season to date. He's been sacked eight times for a loss of 68 yards. Matt Moore misfired on his lone pass attempt. Sammy Watkins is second on the team with 23 receptions for 365 yards plus three scores: he’s been hampered by an ankle injury the last few weeks. Tight end Travis Kelce (team-high 32 grabs, 497 yards, TD) is his usual self while Damien Williams has 13 grabs out of the backfield for 116 yards and a score. Demarcus Robinson (17 catches, 281 yards, three TD), rookie Mecole Hardman (16 catches, 291 yards, two TD) and Byron Pringle (10 receptions, 147 yards, TD) all stepped up while Tyreek Hill (seven catches, 96 yards, two TD) and Watkins have missed time. The Chiefs have 30 pass plays of at least 20 yards on the season: Kelce has seven to lead the team while Watkins (six) and Robinson (four) are next in line.
Mahomes is playing through an ankle injury and is coming off a season-low in completion percentage at 54.3%.
"I feel like I’m good now, honestly,” Mahomes said. “I’m still able to scramble, I’m still able to run and do all those different things. Obviously, I’ll still get treatment and stuff like that, but I feel like I can still do everything I need to do.”
Is the injury have an impact on his play?
“He’s done a pretty good job the last couple of weeks,” head coach Andy Reid said Sunday. “He’s made some nice throws. No, I haven’t [seen a difference in his play]. I’m not telling you it doesn’t hurt, but he’s been doing a nice job.”
Denver Broncos Passing Defense
Denver, despite having issues with an inconsistent pass rush along with injuries in their secondary, has held up fairly well against the pass. The Broncos have not allowed a 300-yard passer yet this season. Denver gave up a season-high 259 yards through the air in the opener against Oakland and followed that by limiting the Bears to only 120 yards the next week. The Broncos held Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to 235 yards and saw Jacksonville pick up 213 yards. Against the Chargers, Philip Rivers ended up with only 211 yards before the defense stepped up by holding the Titans to 207 yards through the air last week. After not recording a sack in their first three games, the Broncos have two games with at least five sacks in the last three weeks.
Walker leads the team with three sacks on the season. Von Miller (20 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss) is next in line with 2.5 sacks while Wolfe has two sacks this season. Simmons leads the team with six pass defenses while Jackson is next in line with four. Chris Harris Jr. (18 tackles, tackle for loss, forced fumble), Shelby Harris and De’Vante Bausby (13 tackles) each have three. Simmons leads the team with two interceptions, while Alexander Johnson (17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks), Harris Jr. and Jackson each have one on the year. The Broncos have recorded 12 sacks, 24 pass defenses and five interceptions on the season.
- 5th in pass play percentage (66.02 percent)
- 20th in completion percentage (63.6)
- 1st in passing yards per game (339.3)
- 2nd in TD passes (14)
- Tied for 2nd in INT thrown (one)
- 1st in net yards per pass attempt (8.8)
- Tied for 3rd in longest pass play (83 yards)
- 2nd in passer rating (111.5)
- 12th in pass play percentage against (57.42 percent)
- 4th in passing yards per game allowed (196)
- 13th in completion percentage allowed (64)
- Tied for 3rd in TD passes allowed (four)
- Tied for 13th in INT (five)
- Tied for 21st in sacks (12)
- 6th in passer rating allowed (77.9)
- 6th in net yards per pass attempt (six)
Who has the Edge?
While Mahomes has continued to excel with 300-yard performances in his first five games before falling under that mark last week against Houston, there are some problems. He's continuing to deal with an ankle injury that some feel is a high ankle sprain that has limited his mobility of late. It has also hampered his throwing: injuries that have knocked Hill and Watkins out of the lineup has pushed other guys into the limelight. Denver has been solid against the pass but with injuries in their secondary and Bradley Chubb on IR with a partially torn ACL, this is their greatest challenge to date on the year.
Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos Passing Offense
Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense
Denver Broncos Passing Offense
Denver hasn’t been lighting the world on fire offensively this season as the team has only one 300-yard game through the air while being held under 200 yards in each of the last two weeks. The Broncos threw for 268 yards against the Raiders in their season opener followed by a 292-yard showing against the Bears in week 2. Denver threw for 213 yards against Green Bay followed by a season-high 303 yards against the Jaguars. The last two weeks have seen the Broncos lean on the run: they threw for 182 yards against the Chargers and 177 yards against the Titans in their victories.
Joe Flacco has completed 130 of 196 passes for 1,435 yards with six touchdown passes and five interceptions on the year. He has been sacked 15 times, losing 114 yards in the process. Courtland Sutton leads the team with 30 receptions for 477 yards plus three touchdowns. Emmanuel Sanders (25 catches, 307 yards, two TD) along with Freeman (21 grabs, 145 yards), Lindsay (19 receptions, 147 yards) and rookie tight end Noah Fant (14 grabs, 152 yards, TD) are solid targets. The Broncos have 19 pass plays that have covered at least 20 yards on the season: Sutton leads the team with seven while Sanders is next in line with five.
Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense
Kansas City's big thing defensively last season came via their pass rush as the team was pounding opposing quarterbacks into the dirt on a regular basis. The Chiefs haven't had that success as much this season and it's proven to be a bit of an issue. Kansas City made a rookie pressed into action (Gardner Minshew) look like Joe Montana in the opener before falling behind early against Derek Carr and the Raiders. The Chiefs gave up 350 yards and three scores in the opener: they held the Raiders to 198 yards in week 2 of the season. Kansas City helped keep Lamar Jackson in check, holding him to just over a 50 percent completion rate while allowing 249 yards through the air, in week 3. The Chiefs gave up 291 yards to the Lions in week four before holding the run-happy Colts to 151 yards in week five. Last week against Houston, Kansas City gave up 280 yards through the air: they had no sacks in either of the last two games.
The Chiefs have to get a better pass rush going and that's something that has yet to come to fruition after trading Dee Ford and seeing Justin Houston leave via free agency. Ogbah leads the team with 2.5 sacks on the season. Chris Jones (11 tackles, two tackles for loss, fumble recovery) is the only other player with multiple sacks: he has two. That's a far cry from what we saw last season. Mathieu leads the team with five pass defenses while Ward and Bashaud Breeland (24 tackles, two fumble recoveries, TD) each have four to tie for second on the team. Ward leads the team with two interceptions while Juan Thornhill (22 tackles, two pass defenses), Mathieu, Breeland and Clark each have one interception. As a team, the Chiefs have totaled 11 sacks, 27 pass defenses and six interceptions on the year.
- 23rd in pass play percentage (56.42 percent)
- 12th in completion percentage (66.3)
- 23rd in passing yards per game (220.2)
- Tied for 26th in TD passes (six)
- Tied for 18th in INT thrown (five)
- 17th in net yards per pass attempt (6.7)
- 8th in longest pass play (70 yards)
- 21st in passer rating (87.4)
- 8th in pass play percentage against (55.02 percent)
- 19th in passing yards per game allowed (244.3)
- 16th in completion percentage allowed (64.4)
- Tied for 12th in TD passes allowed (eight)
- Tied for 8th in INT (six)
- Tied for 24th in sacks (11)
- 9th in passer rating allowed (85.7)
- 10th in net yards per pass attempt (6.7)
Who has the Edge?
Denver hasn't relied a ton on the passing game this season and it's going to be interesting to see if they try to attack Kansas City through the air given the Chiefs' issues against the run. The Broncos have gotten production from Sutton, who has stepped up across from Sanders. The screen game with Freeman and Lindsay will be a factor, especially if Kansas City can't get their pass rush going. Kansas City's secondary has been pretty decent this season, which is surprising given how much they were gouged last season. Until Flacco shows that he can put up big totals, this one ends up going the Chiefs' way.
Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs continue to be an offensive juggernaut this season as they are fifth in the league with 28.7 points per contest. Kansas City stands 3rd in the league in total offense as they average 422 yards per contest while ranking first in yards per play as they pick up seven yards per snap. The Chiefs are currently 19th in the league in scoring defense by allowing 24 points per contest. Kansas City is 27th in the league in total defense by allowing 406.2 yards per game and a dismal 21st in yards per play by allowing 5.8 yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Chiefs are 9th with a +3 ratio this season.
The Chiefs have struggled punching the ball into the end zone once they drive into the red zone as they are ranked 20th in the league by converting only 52.17 percent of their chances. Defensively, Kansas City has been decent so far this season, ranking 8th in red zone defense by allowing 50 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Chiefs are near the top of the pack in third-down conversions, ranking 5th by converting 48.39 percent of their third-down situations so far this season. Kansas City’s defense is 17th in those situations as they hold the opposition to 40.79 percent success on their third downs. The Chiefs are 30th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 44.48 percent of the time this season.
Harrison Butker is 19 of 20 on extra-point tries and has hit 11 of 13 field goals with a long of 46. Dustin Colquitt has averaged 43.8 yards on his 16 punts with a 40.1 yard net average per kick. He does have six punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line but also has two touchbacks. Hardman has averaged 22.1 yards on his seven kick returns and returned a punt 20 yards. De’Anthony Thomas has averaged 22.1 yards on seven kick returns and 4.1 yards on 10 punt returns with a long of 10 this season.
The Broncos have had their issues on the offensive side of the ball this season as they are 26th in the league with 17.7 points per contest. Denver stands 25th in the league in total offense as they average 336.2 yards per contest while ranking 23rd in yards per play as they pick up 5.4 yards per snap. The Broncos are currently 7th in the league in scoring defense by allowing only 17.7 points per contest. Denver is 4th in the league in total defense by allowing 307.8 yards per game and a stand 7th in yards per play by allowing 5.1 yards per snap. In giveaway/takeaway, the Broncos are tied for 20th with a -2 ratio this season.
The Broncos have sputtered punching the ball into the end zone once they drive into the red zone as they are ranked 25th in the league by converting only 47.06 percent of their chances. Defensively, Denver has been stellar so far this season, ranking 3rd in red zone defense by allowing 42.11 percent of drives to reach the red zone to end in touchdowns. The Broncos are struggling this season in third-down conversions, ranking 25th by converting 33.33 percent of their third-down situations so far this season. Denver’s defense is 8th in those situations as they hold the opposition to 33.33 percent success on their third downs. The Broncos are 20th in the league in time of possession by holding the ball 48.88 percent of the time this season.
Brandon McManus has hit eight of nine extra point attempts and 12 of 14 field goal tries with a long of 53 this season. Colby Wadman averages 46.5 yards per punt on 29 boots with a 40-yard net average. He has dropped 12 punts inside the opponent’s 20-yard line while recording four touchbacks on the year. Devontae Booker averages 23 yards on three kick returns with a long of 25 this season. Diontae Spencer has a 60-yard kickoff return and has averaged 9.1 yards on 13 punt returns with a long of 42 on the year. Dre’Mont Jones blocked a field goal against the Chargers in week five.
Who has the Edge?
Kansas City has been excellent on the offensive side of the ball this season but, as has been the trend lately, has sputtered on the defensive side of things. The Chiefs are going to have their struggles moving the ball and putting points on the board against a Denver defense that has been stingy, especially in the red zone. In the coaching department, Andy Reid has a much better track record given that Fangio is a rookie head coach. Special teams is a pretty even matchup though the Broncos have a little better return game. In addition, Denver has blocked a kick, which gives them an opportunity to make things tough for Butker. All told, there are enough pluses on each side of the coin to call this one a wash.
The last couple of weeks has created a bit of a blueprint on how to deal with the Chiefs. Move the chains on the ground, grind the clock and force Kansas City's defense to make plays. Both Houston and Indianapolis dominated the time of possession: the Colts held the ball for 37:15 while the Texans had it for 39:48 of the game. The Chiefs have lost the time of possession battle in each of their last four games. Denver has been effective in the last two games and their defense is going to force Mahomes to be patient offensively. It's going to be tough sledding against the Broncos' tough defense and points may be at a bit of a premium.
The Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games in October and 10-2 ATS in their last 12 Thursday contests. Kansas City is 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games after allowing more than 350 total yards in their previous game and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a losing home record.
Playing in the altitude of the Mile High City is going to take a toll on the Chiefs, especially if the Broncos can implement the game plan that the Texans and Colts put to work in the last two weeks. Factor in that Kansas City is coming in off a short week and you have to be concerned about how they'll look, especially after back to back defeats on the ledger. The Chiefs won both meetings last season but both were one score games: Kansas City may escape here but it's another close affair. Take the points and the Broncos in the contest.
Latest Updates, Injury Reports, and Line Movements
Injuries are rampant through the Chiefs' locker room and that means that they are going to have to make some personnel changes. Watkins is out again at receiver, meaning that Byron Pringle or Hardman will step in to that spot once again. The left side of their offensive line is out as both tackle Erik Fisher and guard Andrew Wylie are missing. Fisher is replaced by Cam Erving again while Martinas Rankin or Stefen Wisniewski will step in to replace Wylie.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kansas City will be without defensive tackle Chris Jones, who is out with a groin injury. That pushes Khalen Saunders or Terrell McClain into the starting lineup. Kendall Fuller is out with a thumb injury, which elevates Morris Claiborne and Rashad Fenton in the secondary mix. Starting corner Bashaud Breeland is questionable with a non-football related injury, which would further thin Kansas City's depth in the secondary should he not take the field.
Denver is remarkably healthy for this contest, especially coming off a short week. The Broncos' lone missing piece is corner Bryce Callahan, who remains out with a foot injury. That means Duke Dawson Jr. and Isaac Yiadom are going to be put to the test on the outside opposite Chris Harris Jr. in the secondary. The only other injury on the report is starting right tackle Ja'Wuan James, who is questionable with a knee injury: Elijah Wilkinson would step in should he be unable to go.
The weather looks like it is expected to be surprisingly mild for mid-October in the Mile High City. Game-time temperatures are projected to be in the low to mid-70s with clear skies. Winds are expected to come from the north-northwest between five and 10 miles per hour. There is no precipitation expected to fall during this contest, making for optimal weather conditions for both offenses here.
When the initial lines opened for this contest, Kansas City was a 4.5-point favorite with the over/under set at 50.5 points. As of Thursday afternoon, the line has shifted slightly to the Chiefs being a three-point favorite in the contest. The over/under has ticked downward slightly as it has moved to 49 points in this contest. Currently, the moneyline shows Kansas City as a -155 to -165 favorite while the Broncos can be found as a +135 to +145 underdog depending on the sportsbook. As of this writing, 79 percent of the bets are backing the Chiefs -3 points. When it comes to the moneyline, a solid majority, 71 percent of the wagers, are backing the Chiefs as the visiting team. Meanwhile, 62 percent of bets are projecting this one to stay under the total.
The Chiefs are going to have to work through several key injuries, which is going to test their mettle. Missing the left side of their offensive line in addition to Watkins offensively takes a toll. The thinned out secondary and missing Jones on the defensive line is going to be tough for a Kansas City defense that has struggled to stop the run as it is when they are healthy. Denver likely is going to try and follow the game plan that the Colts and Texans used to earn wins in the last two games. This is going to really test the Chiefs, who might escape in a close game but it's going to be one that goes down to the wire.
Prediction: Denver Broncos +3.5Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com
Additional Insiders' Best Bets
Full-game Total Bet
While Kansas City has been effective on the offensive side of the ball, the defense leaves plenty to be desired this season. The Chiefs are going to have to figure out a way to get off the field defensively and have the offense sustain drives to give their defense a breather. Kansas City can't be worn down the way they were in the fourth quarter of the last couple of games. Denver doesn't score much but they stay in the game thanks to their defense: the Broncos haven't given up more than 27 points in a game and have held three of their six opponents to 16 points or less this season. Will Denver's defense carry the way again or can Mahomes and the Chiefs break that shell?
The under is 6-1 in the Chiefs' last seven games in week 7. Denver has seen the under go 5-0-1 in their last 6 games after allowing less than 15 points in their previous game, 7-0-1 i their last eight against AFC West teams, 4-0-1 in their last 5 games after allowing less than 250 total yards in their previous game and 10-1-1 in their last 12 after a straight up win. Thanks to Denver's defense being tough and the offense bleeding the clock, this one ends up under the total.
Half-time Side Bet
Kansas City hasn't been blowing teams out of late as their last two wins came by five points over Baltimore at home and four points over Detroit on the road. The Chiefs haven't had the edge at the half in any of their last three games: they were tied with Detroit (13-13) and trailed both Indianapolis (13-10) and Houston (23-17) in that span. Denver has held the upper hand in each of their last three games against Jacksonville (17-6), Los Angeles (17-0) and Tennessee (6-0) in that stretch. Based on recent results, take the points and the Broncos at the half.
Half-time Total Bet
Denver hasn't allowed a point in the first half of their last two games and they have been stingy in general in the first half. The Broncos held both Chicago and Jacksonville to six points in the opening half, meaning that the opposition has put up six points or less in four of their six games this season in the opening half. Kansas City has been capable of putting up some solid point totals but the fact remains that they are facing a Denver defense that is capable of shutting down the opposition. This one likely ends up under the number as we're looking at a 10-7 or 13-10 kind of score at intermission more than likely.