The Kansas City Chiefs will look to remain atop the AFC West when they take on the Denver Broncos at snowy Empower Field at Mile High on Saturday afternoon. Kansas City currently sits at 5-1 after taking down the first-place Buffalo Bills 26-17 as a five-point road favorite on Monday. Denver improved to 2-3 over the weekend by winning at the New England Patriots 18-12 as a seven-point underdog.
Kansas City has won nine straight in this division rivalry, including winning the two meetings last year by a combined score of 53-9. The Broncos have not beaten the Chiefs at home since September of 2014.
(Injury reports and line movements are updated as of Saturday afternoon.)
There has been some movement on the line toward the hosts in this contest. After opening as a 9.5-point favorite, the Chiefs currently stand as a 7.5-point favorite at most sportsbooks. 55 percent of the bets against the spread are backing the Chiefs giving the points.
The over/under for this game has dropped rather heavily this week. After opening at 49.4 points, the current total has dropped down to 43.5 or 44 points depending on the sportsbook as of Saturday afternoon. 56 percent of the bets in this contest on the total expect this one to end up falling short of the mark.
Game-time Weather: This is expected to be the coldest game to take place so far this season. A bitter cold front is rolling through the area and temperatures at kickoff are expected to be only in the high teens. The temperature will drop to the mid-teens as the game continues with the wind chill dropping below five degrees. There is better than a 40 percent chance of snow during the game as the area is under a winter storm warning from 6 am MT Sunday to 6 am MT Monday. Winds are expected from the north at just under 10 miles per hour with the wind gusts kicking up to around 12 miles an hour.
Kansas City wins clash of first-place teamsIt wasn't the high-scoring spectacle many expected, but Kansas City outlasted the Bills 26-17 on a rainy night in Buffalo to bounce back nicely from its first loss of the season. Two Travis Kelce touchdown receptions helped the Chiefs build a 13-10 halftime lead, and two Harrison Butker field goal plus a Darrel Williams run for a score proved to be enough as Buffalo could get no closer than 26-17 with two minutes remaining.
Playing through the elements, the Chiefs relied heavily on the ground game with 46 rushes for 2445 yards, and held Josh Allen to just 122 yards passing and the Bills to 206 yards as a team.
"When you can go back and forth, it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense," head coach Andy Reid said of the rushing attack to 810 WHB sports radio."So, we were able to do both, and we felt like we needed both in this game.”
First-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire had the best game of his young career with 26 carries for 161 yards. Patrick Mahomes wasn't asked to do as much downfield as usual in the wet conditions, but still finished 21/26 for 225 yards and two touchdowns.
Kansas City is now 4-2 against the spread, having earlier lost outright 40-32 to the Las Vegas Raiders as an 11-point favorite and falling short of an 8.5-point spread in an overtime win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chiefs' best performance came as a narrow underdog in a 34-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens as they dominated both sides of the ball. The over is now 2-4 in Kansas City games after the teams did not reach the 56-point total in Buffalo.
Mahomes is having another outstanding year, completing 144 of 219 passes for 1699 yards, 15 touchdowns and just one interception. Edwards-Helaire has immediately been productive with 107 rushes for 505 yards and 21 receptions for 177 yards. Travis Kelce leads Kansas City with 470 receiving yards and five touchdowns, while Tyreek Hill has added four scores.
The Chiefs rank ninth in the NFL at 29.2 points per game, but are again top five in a number of categories with 417 yards per contest and 6.2 yards per play. Kansas City's defense is quietly having a solid season with 21.1 points per game allowed to rank ninth on a respectable 353.3 yards per game and 5.6 yards per play.
All-Pro tackle Mitchell Schwartz was removed from the Buffalo game with a back injury and his status is unclear for this weekend. Kansas City's pass protection has been excellent with a 3.10 percent sack rate, but the unit also recently lost Kelechi Osemele for the season with knee injuries. Linebacker Alex Okafor suffered his second strained hamstring of the year on Monday, and it seems likely Sammy Watkins will be held out again with a similar injury as he has not returned to practice. Le'Veon Bell will be ready to join the team by Sunday if everything goes well with his COVID protocol.
OUT: DB Alex Brown, DE Taco Charlton, DE Mike Danna, G Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, T Lucas Niang, DE Alex Okafor, G Kelechi Osemele, T Mitchell Schwartz, FB Anthony Sherman, DB L'Jarius Sneed, WR Sammy Watkins, RB Damien Williams
Questionable:T Martinas Rankin, DT Khalen Saunders
Denver earns upset win in New EnglandDenver earned it's best win of the season on Saturday afternoon in Foxborough with an 18-12 victory over the Patriots. The Broncos controlled the majority of the game, as six Brandon McManus field goals and 299 yards of total offense proved to be enough. Cam Newton scored the only touchdown of the game with 8:33 left and the Patriots would later add a Nick Folk field goal, but the Broncos made a defensive stand on New England's last possession to earn their second win of the year.
It was all about the defense for Denver in the win, as it held the Patriots to 288 total yards of offense and turned them over three times. There are still some concerns moving forward despite the win, as Drew Lock went just 10/24 for 189 yards and threw two crucial interceptions in the fourth quarter that nearly led to a New England comeback
"I don't think there's any doubt you have to learn how to win. But that's a three-phase operation that has to do with that. We've got to do better in the fourth quarter there, close that out," said head coach Vic Fangio to patriots.com about the win. "But, hey, sometimes it's going to happen that way. Sometimes the offense is going to struggle and defense is going to have to continue to go back out there and finish the game."
Denver improves to 4-1 against the spread on the season, having only failed to cover in a 28-10 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a six-point underdog. One of those covers was against the hapless New York Jets, but the Broncos have also played the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans close. The over is now 2-3 in Broncos games as the teams did not reach the betting total of 43.5 points.
Lock, who missed two full games and a large portion of another with a shoulder injury, is 33/62 for 425 yards, one touchdown and two picks on the season. Tim Patrick is turning in a nice season as the team's leading receiver with 20 catches for 310 yards. Phillip Lindsey got the vast majority of the team's rushing workload last weekend with Melvin Gordon out sick and went over 100 yards to bring his season total to 30 carries for 125 yards.
The Broncos rank bottom five league-wide in a number of offensive categories, including points per game at 20 even, yards per game at 305.2 and yards per play at 4.8. There's still a lot of talent on defense with the likes of Bradley Chubb and Justin Simmons helping the Broncos hold opponents to 22 points per game on 349.8 yards per game and 5.2 yards per play.
Even with Lock returning last week, the Denver injury list is still extensive, with stars Von Miller and Courtland Sutton among many others out for the year. Guard Dalton Risner hurt his shoulder last Sunday and is unlikely to play against Kansas City. Tight end Noah Fant, cornerback A.J. Bouye and receiver K.J. Hamler are getting closer to returning, although it's unclear if any of them will be available this weekend. Gordon is likely to return from illness, but could also be suspended following a recent DUI.
OUT: LB Jeremiah Attaochu, LB Mark Barron, RB LeVante Bellamy, LB Austin Calitro, DT Jurrell Casey, TE Austin Fort, DL Jonathan Harris, NT Joel Heath, T Ja'Waun James, LB Von Miller, NT Kyle Peko, WR Diontae Spencer, LB Justin Strnad, WR Courtland Sutton, G Elijah Wilkerson
Questionable: FB Andrew Beck, CB A.J. Bouye, TE Jake Butt, DE Dre'Mont Jones, G Dalton Risner, DE DeMarcus Walker
Trends via Covers.com Denver is:
- 7-18-1 ATS in its last 26 games against the AFC West
- 1-8 ATS in its last nine games against Kansas City
Kansas City is:
- 6-0 ATS in the last six meetings in Denver
- 10-2-1 ATS in its last 13 games as a favorite
- 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 games overall