NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions For Broncos vs. Chiefs: An Expert’s Guide To Betting Sunday Night Football
Getty Images. Pictured: Broncos QB Teddy Bridgewater, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes
|Time||8:20 p.m. ET|
The Chiefs are 4-0 straight up and 3-1 against the spread (ATS) against the Broncos since Vic Fangio took over in 2019, though Denver covered in the last meeting between these two teams. Can the Broncos make it two straight covers against Patrick Mahomes and company?
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Broncos vs. Chiefs Injury Report
- RB Melvin Gordon (shoulder/hip): Doubtful
- OT Bobby Massie (ankle): Questionable
- OT Garett Bolles (ankle): Questionable
- G Dalton Risner (back): Questionable
- G/C Quinn Meinerz (knee): Questionable
- DE Shelby Harris (ankle): Questionable
- CB Nate Hairston (hip): Questionable
- OLB Jonathan Cooper (neck): Questionable
- OL Lucas Niang (ribs): Out
- CB Rashad Fenton (knee): Out
- RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (illness): Questionable
Broncos vs. Chiefs Matchup
|Broncos Offense||DVOA Rank||Chiefs Defense|
|Broncos Defense||DVOA Rank||Chiefs Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Broncos Offense Has Weapons to Expose K.C. Defense
Under general manager George Paton, the Broncos roster has been constructed with beating the Chiefs in mind. On offense, that means a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who doesn’t turn the ball over, as you can’t give the Chiefs offense extra opportunities. Bridgewater has accomplished that goal this season, throwing only five interceptions and fumbling once across 11 starts.
It also means surrounding the quarterback with a variety of weapons, and that has worked out well, as the Broncos have assembled one of the better skill-position groups in the NFL with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon (though he is doubtful) at running back, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton at wide receiver, and Noah Fant at tight end. It has led to an offense that ranks 13th in rushing DVOA and 12th in passing DVOA (despite Jeudy missing a chunk of the season).
The Chiefs are no longer the NFL’s worst defense since making some personnel changes, such as acquiring Melvin Ingram and cutting the snaps of safety Daniel Sorenson, but Kansas City is still 26th in DVOA and ranks outside the top 20 against both the pass (21st) and run (28th). Even without Gordon, the Broncos should be able to move the ball up and down the field.
Another key component of Denver’s success under Paton’s watch this season has been depth. Denver has been able to withstand a myriad of injuries to its offensive line, and, as of late, it has looked even better at times with reserves in the game. Still, it’s good news for Denver that tackles Garrett Bolles and Bobby Massie are expected to suit up. Both are listed as questionable with ankle injuries. Their services will be needed against an underrated Chiefs pass rush that ranks sixth in pressure rate (27.3%, according to Pro-Football-Reference Advanced Stats).
The main thing holding the Broncos back from taking the next step offensively has been red-zone offense, where they rank just 26th with a 54.1% conversion rate. However, they have a chance to improve upon that figure against a Chiefs defense that ranks 23rd with a 64.7% conversion rate allowed.
Chiefs Will Be Forced to Dink & Dunk
Just as Denver was built to beat the Chiefs on offense, the same is true on defense. It all starts with Vic Fangio’s two-deep scheme, which is what has given the Chiefs fits all season and led to Patrick Mahomes having the worst season of his career with a 94.7 passer rating — barely above the league average of 91.3. Mahomes has struggled to adjust to the new normal of dinking and dunking that defenses are forcing him to do, and it has resulted in the Chiefs failing to score more than 20 points in five of their last seven games.
Denver’s defense isn’t as good as its third-place ranking in points per game allowed (17.8), but it’s also not as bad as its 25th-place ranking in DVOA, especially now that it’s mostly healthy and Bradley Chubb has returned to offset the pass-rushing loss of Von Miller, who was traded to the Rams.
Teams started to catch on to how to defend the Chiefs around the middle of last season, and the Broncos were at the forefront of that, holding the Chiefs to 22 points in a 22-16 loss on Dec. 6, which was, to that point, Kansas City’s lowest point total of the season through 12 games.
The Chiefs are favored for a reason — they’re still the defending AFC champs, and having Mahomes dinking and dunking to Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce while mixing in handoffs to Clyde Edwards-Helaire is still incredibly tough to defend, but this doesn’t set up as a walk in the park for Kansas City.
NFL Pick: Broncos vs. Chiefs
The Chiefs are coming off two convincing wins — a 41-14 shellacking of the Raiders and a sound 19-9 victory over the Cowboys — and are coming off a bye, where Andy Reid is 16-11 (59%) ATS in his career, so the market is showing the Chiefs a lot of love with a 9.5-point spread.
However, 9.5 points is a lot for a team that has won by double digits in just four of its past 18 regular-season games dating back to last season (excluding a meaningless Week 17 contest against the Chargers).
The Broncos were built with knocking off the Chiefs specifically in mind, and it starts with Bridgewater, who has been far better on the road in his career than Reid has been with extra time to prepare.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs are just 6-15 (29%) ATS as a favorite since the middle of last season and including the playoffs.
As I already mentioned, the Chiefs have won by double digits in just four of their last 18 games, so it’s no surprise they struggle to cover when favored by a TD or more. How bad has it been? In their last eight games when favored by seven or more dating back to last season, the Chiefs are 0-8 ATS.
Pick: Broncos +9.5 | Bet to: +8
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