Denver Broncos (8-6 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS)
Week 16 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, Christmas Day, December 25, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DEN +3.5/KC -3.5
Over/Under Total: 37.5
The Denver Broncos come to Arrowhead on Sunday, Christmas Day to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a big AFC West matchup. The Chiefs are still trying to win the division, one game behind Oakland, but holding the season-sweep over the Raiders. They took a tough and costly home loss to the Titans on Sunday with a last-second field goal spoiling the afternoon. They look to avoid back-to-back losses at home with a desperate Denver team that has lost two straight, including a 16-3 defeat the Patriots at home on Sunday. After looking primed for the postseason, Denver needs to win out and hope for the best. It won't be easy in KC against a Chiefs team with a lot on the line.
It was less than a month ago on November 27 when these division rivals first played. It was a good game, a back-and-forth contest that the Chiefs won late in overtime with a field goal. Both teams traded FGs early in the extra period and the game looked like it could end up a tie until a little drive led to Cairo Santos' 34-yard kick. The Chiefs got a big game from Tyreek Hill, who returned a kickoff for a TD, also scoring on a pass and a run. Denver's Trevor Siemian had one of his better games with 368 yards and 3 touchdowns, scoring on a 76-yard TD strike with Bennie Fowler, while connecting with Emmanuel Sanders to the tune of 162 yards. This game has a potential to be even better. And let's not forget the weather. It was pretty cold in KC last week and some precipitation is being forecasted.
The Chiefs really were snake-bitten on Sunday, blowing a lead and allowing a late comeback against an improved Titans bunch. With three minutes left, the Titans made it 17-16 and went for the two, with the Chiefs stopping it and looking to run out the clock with Tennessee out of timeouts. But their offense stalled and the Titans managed to navigate their way into FG position. Former Chiefs kicker Ryan Succop kicked a 53-yarder into the wind to notch the win—a painful and potentially costly loss for Kansas City. But if they win out and Oakland falters, they can still win the division.
While an explosive return game and a playmaking defense helps make things better, the Chiefs offense labors a lot of the time. Alex Smith has thrown just 12 touchdowns through the air and featured back Spencer Ware has been putting forth some tepid rushing performances recently, though he is a valuable short-pass option. Tyreek Hill has added a spark, in the pass, run, and on special teams. Travis Kelce is one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the league and a real force when he gets rolling. Still, to say they're a middling offense would probably be accurate.
It's remarkable that a team with an offense like what the Chiefs bring to the table can still be 10-4 with the league's 28th-ranked defense. They can be very leaky against the run, though that's not an area where Denver really thrives. And they are not all that stout against the pass, as Denver's Siemian brought to light in the first game between these teams. They do make plays, however, with the pass-rush and in securing turnovers. Opponents have given the ball back to the Chiefs 28 times this season, with Kansas City's defense scoring 5 times. While dicey in terms of giving up yardage, they make up for it to some extent with their playmaking ability.
With back-to-back losses and defeats in 4 of their last 6 games, the Broncos are in real danger of missing the postseason. With two weeks left and a myriad of possibilities at play, expect them to continue to play hard. They have had some close ones lately, though they were beaten conclusively by the Patriots last week. The week before, they lost a squeaker on the road to the Titans, with their overtime loss to the Chiefs right before that. In giving up 16 to the Pats, their defense is still getting after it, though they are handicapped by an offense that has scored a total of 13 points in the last two games. And reports of locker-room division aren't really promising, either.
Trevor Siemian will be looking to duplicate his performance against the Chiefs a few weeks ago. Granted, injuries have taken their toll and they've never been able to get the run-game cooking this season. Still, with Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and some other interesting pieces, they should be able to come up with more. You'd like to see a young QB be able to depend on a run-game and a good line, but he has been without both. The O-line has seen their play deteriorate and their poor play has been a key part of Denver being in a rough patch right now.
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The Broncos defense has held up well, despite getting very little support on the other side of the ball. They continue to rate as the league's top pass-defense, a very classy secondary led by Aqib Talib, TJ Ward (out), Darian Stewart, Chris Harris, and Bradley Roby. Von Miller is a monster pass-rusher. The front can be leaky against the run and Miller's pass-rushing support has waned in recent weeks. They're not the dominant unit they were in the first-half of the season, but with a little support, they would be a lot better.
Kansas City did pretty well to beat the Broncos at Mile High the first time around. At home and with a lot at stake, one should expect a strong KC effort on Christmas. I still see Denver having some success and without any flubs on special teams like last game, they should be able to keep a subdued KC offense in check, while grinding their way to a cover in Arrowhead on Sunday.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Denver Broncos plus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Denver vs. Kansas City game from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!