The AFC West will be center stage for this week’s Monday Night showdown as the (5-2) Kansas City Chiefs take on the (3-3) Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium (8:30 PM ET).
Just a few years ago, one could have looked at this game and chalked up an easy win for Denver but a lot has changed in a short period of time. The Broncos have been on a bit of a downswing, struggling to find that franchise quarterback ever since the retirement of Peyton Manning. Unfortunately, as good as the defense has been the offensive inconsistencies have proved too costly to overcome. Meanwhile, the Chiefs have been rising fast. Behind the coaching of Andy Reid, the emergence of their own quarterback Alex Smith, as one of the most accurate passers in the game, and a running game which always seems to be among the league’s best, Kansas City are now the ones to beat in the AFC West.
Who are the Broncos?
It’s funny we’re asking this question about one of Kansas City’s opponents because just last week, when the Chiefs faced the Oakland Raiders, who got the win, we were asking the same thing about Oakland.
Denver opened the season 2-0 and while offensively they weren’t any sort of juggernaut, they were far removed from the team that just a few years prior led the NFL in points scored and reached the Super Bowl, but they weren’t a completely hapless bunch either. As the season went on however and Denver’s losses began to pile up, the offensive woes were made front and center. Everything came to a head last week, when the Broncos were shut out for the first time in 25 years and against a Los Angeles Chargers team no less, which opened the season 0-4.
In its last 11 quarters, so almost three full games, Denver has scored just one touchdown. That’s not good enough for a team that is looking to make the playoffs and be victorious in their division.
One of the team’s biggest concerns is in their ground game, ranked among the best in the league after the first four weeks of the season but that has severely tailed off in the last two games. Denver has been held to just over 100 yards rushing total in its last two, doing so against two teams who don’t exactly have a reputation for stopping the run.
Success for this team begins and ends with being able to get Jamaal Charles and CJ Anderson going and that hasn’t been the case over the past two weeks. Luckily enough, this matchup favors Denver’s ground game. The Chiefs are one of the worst teams in the NFL when it comes to defending against the run. They are allowing opposing rushers an average of just under 4.8 yards per carry, which is the fifth worst in the league.
Who are the Chiefs?
Keeping with a consistent theme here, it may be time in the season to ask the same question about the Chiefs. Because after starting 5-0 and looking like the undisputed best team in football, Kansas City has had their struggles as well.
Much like the Broncos, Kansas City’s bread-and-butter comes in the form of their running game and star rookie back Kareem Hunt. Hunt leads the NFL in rushing with over 102 yards a game. He has an average of just under six yards per carry and six touchdowns (two receiving).
However, over the last two weeks, Hunt has rushed for just over 100 total yards. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Kansas City’s first loss of the year, Hunt had the lowest output of his career by a mile, rushing for just 21 yards. Prior to this, his lowest output had been 81.
That’s where the Broncos come in because for what the team lacks offensively, they make up for it and then some on defense. Still one of the best overall defenses in the league, the Broncos allow just 71.8 rushing yards per game and have yet to give up a rushing touchdown on the season. Given Hunt’s slight troubles lately, this might not exactly be the formula Kansas City is looking for to get their top back and main offensive weapon going again.
If not for Hunt, the burden falls on Smith and his very capable passing game. The last time we talked about the Chiefs we talked about how accurate Smith has been and that number continues to be astounding. Smith ranks second in the league in touchdowns with 15, second in yards with 1,979, and first in both rating (120.5) and completion percentage (72.4). He has been excellent.
With the speedy and reliable Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Hunt lining up as a pass catcher, Smith has no shortage of weapons to throw to. However, I think the fact that Smith has thrown for almost 600 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions, but the Chiefs have still lost two in a row, just goes to show how much they need Hunt and the rushing game back running on all cylinders.
Broncos vs Chiefs Quick Stats
- The Chiefs are 12-1 in their last 13 games against divisional opponents.
- The Broncos are 19-6 in their last 25 games following a loss.
- The Chiefs have played to the OVER in nine of their last 11 night games.
- The Broncos are 1-4 both SU and ATS in their last five road games.
Denver Broncos vs Kansas City Chiefs Picks & Predictions Verdict
Entering this game, both the Broncos and Chiefs have been on losing streaks with the Chiefs opening the season a perfect 5-0 and Denver winning their first two before losing three of their next four. One of these teams is going to break that streak on Monday night.
The odds from the legal American online bookmakers favor the Chiefs by a somewhat modest seven points at home given how tough Arrowhead is for opposing teams. The pieces are in place for Kansas City to get back on the right track, and their steady passing game is a sign of that. So these are this Broncos at Chiefs preview’s betting predictions and picks:
- The wheels haven’t fallen off the Chiefs, not even close, so take Kansas City -7pts to cover the spread @ best odds of -115 with Bookmaker.
- The total points to be scored in this NFL game is set generally around the 42.5-point mark. Kansas City has a propensity to play to the over at night, and that’s a trend that could come into play here. The betting pick here is to go over 42pts @ -115 with Bookmaker, given the other firms are all at 42.5 or 43pts.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.