Kansas City Chiefs (7-3 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (7-3 SU, 7-3 ATS)
Week 12 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday Night Football, November 27, 2016 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colorado
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: KC +3.5/DEN -3.5
Over/Under Total: 39.5
The Kansas City Chiefs come to Mile High on Sunday to face the Denver Broncos in big AFC West action on Sunday Night Football. Denver is coming off the bye where they won 7 of their first ten games, covering the spread at the same rate. Their last win was as unlikely as it gets, with a blocked extra point and return snatching victory from the jaws of defeat against the Saints. Still, in a top-heavy AFC West, they are battling it out with the Raiders and this Chiefs team, who came up short in a bit of a surprise against Tampa, falling to 7-3 in a 19-17 home loss. The Chiefs look to get back on the winning track this week in what would be a good win against their division rivals.
It would seem that most Denver supporters would have taken a 7-3 start to the season. There was a lot of uncertainty entering the season. And they've gone 7-3 with key injuries on both sides of the ball. The run-game has largely been a non-factor, while Trevor Siemian is going through the ups and downs most young quarterbacks endure in this league. Despite top receiver talent in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, they are ranked 24th in the league in passing offense. The defense has held firm, but they're not quite the ironclad unit of last season's Super Bowl campaign.
The bye week should have helped Denver address some issues. And let's not get too hung up on their issues, as they are, after all, 7-3. It's just that after a 4-0 start to the season, they've been up-and-down in their last 6 games, going 3-3 and only 1-2 at home. Siemian hasn't been bad by any means. He's over 2000 yards with a 12-7 TD-to-INT rate. He doesn't make the most of Thomas and Sanders perhaps, but it's not like big-arm heroics were that big of a part of Denver winning the Super Bowl last season. They do, however, miss Manning's cerebral presence behind center. Not having CJ Anderson in there has hurt the offense, though Devontae Booker has shown some flashes. The O-line hasn't been in fine form this season and that not being there with a run-game has forced Siemian a bit out of his comfort zone.
Alas, this incarnation of the Broncos is highly-reliant on defense. To begin the season, we saw a group that looked a lot like the unit we saw last season. Injuries and perhaps the offense stringing them out some caused this unit to take a step back in the past month or so. The bye week has led to a healthier Denver defense and that's bad news for opponents. How they perform the rest of the season will play a gigantic role in determining this team's fate. They are healthy in the secondary again and that's trouble for opponents, as they are still ranked first in this area. Von Miller leads a robust pass-rush with 9.5 sacks. The defense has secured 20 turnovers on the season. They've scored three times. And with the extra week off, Aqib Talib is listed as probable and should help get this "D" back into top form.
As touchdown favorites at home, the Chiefs looked like a safe bet to win on Sunday, but fell to Tampa, 19-17. The Chiefs had won five in a row, so maybe a hiccup is forgivable, but it does underline something about the Chiefs. While a good team that has a lot of character and grit and gets the most of what it has, their recipe for success is tenuous and easy to disrupt. If any aspect of their game is off, it leaves room for a team like Tampa to score an unlikely road win. After narrowing the lead late in the fourth to two points, the Kansas City defense couldn't hold Tampa and a Bucs' first down sealed it.
Giving up 19 points to Jameis Winston and all his weapons is no disgrace. But Winston did have his way at times with the home KC defense. Not having playmaking corner Marcus Peters in there didn't help. The "D" did well in forcing a bunch of field goals and stalling promising-looking drives, but with the offense not really clicking, it wasn't enough. And truth be told, there were some bad overall signs in the ease in which Tampa was moving the ball at times.
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The Kansas City offense is not the most illustrious group. Alex Smith can be inconsistent and it's not all his fault, as he is trying to make the most of a lot of holes around him. Injuries and uneven play have rendered their line a so-so group. Against certain fronts, they're a bit dicey in opening holes and repelling a pass-rush. This is a team that really gets the most of what they have, with 17 wins in their last 20 regular season games. And they do it without any stars on offense. But without Jamaal Charles or any receiver that would even remotely be called a number-one, they're left with bruising back Spencer Ware, a top tight end in Travis Kelce, and role receivers like Jeremy Maclin (who has missed the last two games), Chris Conley, and Albert Wilson. They couldn't really afford to get banged up and with Charles' return not panning out and other key losses, the offense needs to find some answers.
The Chiefs should be expected to be at their overachieving best on Sunday in a critical divisional game at Mile High. They're a team with a lot of character and a simple ability or knack to manufacture wins. But Denver, rested after the bye week, which followed a remarkable win, should be robust at home. It was a good time for them to collect their thoughts for the final 6-game stretch of the season. It's just difficult envisioning anything but a close game, in which case, it's nice to have those points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Kansas City Chiefs plus 3.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Kansas City vs. Denver game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!