One of the NFL’s best divisional rivalries has turned lopsided in recent seasons.
Patrick Mahomes has never lost to the Broncos and his Chiefs have won 15 straight games over their AFC West rivals, predating Mahomes’ time in Kansas City.
Bet on Broncos vs. Chiefs
However, that run of dominance doesn’t mean the Chiefs are locks to cover the 10.5-point spread on Thursday Night Football when they host a bad Broncos team at Arrowhead Stadium in a game that kicks off at 8:15 p.m. ET. For one thing, Mahomes’ favourite target, tight end Travis Kelce, is questionable with an ankle injury. And the Chiefs have won four of the last five of those games by six points or fewer, proving once again that rivalry games tend to be closer than you’d expect.
Broncos vs. Chiefs odds
|Broncos Moneyline Odds||+450|
|Chiefs Moneyline Odds||-600|
|Spread odds||Chiefs -10.5 (-110), Broncos +10.5 (-110)|
|Over/Under||47 points (over -110, under -110)|
|Time/Date||Oct. 12, 8:15 p.m. ET|
About the Broncos (1-4 SU, 0-4-1 ATS, 4-1 o/u)
Denver has a lot of problems, but first and foremost has been fixing the league’s worst defence. Granted, some of their numbers were bloated by one awful performance against Miami, in which they allowed 70 points, but their issues go a bit deeper than that. Against the Jets, this group managed to lose 31-21 despite allowing just one touchdown, because the Jets kicked five field goals. It was the third time this season Denver allowed at least 30 points in a game. No team allows more total yards than Denver’s 450.6 per game either.
Even if Kelce can’t go, there’s no guarantee Denver can hold this Chiefs team down. The Commanders, Jets and Dolphins all eclipsed 30 points against this unit.
If there’s a ray of sunshine for Broncos fans this season it’s the improvement in quarterback Russell Wilson now that he’s working with head coach Sean Payton and not Nathaniel Hackett. Wilson has already eclipsed 1,200 yards passing with 11 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He is top 10 in yards per pass attempt (7.4) and interception rate (1.2%).
About the Chiefs (4-1 SU, 3-2 ATS, 2-3 o/u)
It’s not just the Broncos. Every team in the AFC West has been owned by the Chiefs lately, with Kansas City going 42-6 in its last 48 divisional games.
Given Kelce’s questionable status and the forecast, the Chiefs might elect to go to a more run-heavy approach than they normally would. They are a top-half rushing offence anyway and Isiah Pacheco had one of his best games against Denver last year. He’s averaging 65 rushing yards this season and Denver has the worst rushing defence in the league, allowing an average of 187.6 rushing yards per game.
As great as Mahomes is, Chiefs fans still are wondering when he will develop rapport with a second target that comes anywhere close to his connection with Kelce. He leaned heavily on the tight end in last week’s 27-20 win over Minnesota. Despite a lack of explosive targets beyond Pacheco and Kelce, Kansas City still ranks top 10 in yards per game (381) and points (25.6), more testimony to Mahomes’ greatness and the innovative play calling of Andy Reid.
Until the Broncos prove they can stop a team’s running game, why would anybody go pass-heavy against them? It has simply been too easy to bully this Broncos’ front seven and Reid is smart enough to recognize that and look for ways to continue to exploit a brutal run defence.
In the past four weeks, Denver has allowed the following rushing performances: Brian Robinson: 87 yards and two touchdowns; De’Von Achane/Raheem Mostert: 285 yards and five touchdowns; Khalil Herbert: 103 yards; Breece Hall: 177 yards and a touchdown.
Expect Mahomes to hand the ball frequently to Pacheco or Clyde Edwards-Helaire and, when he’s not doing that, to run it himself or give it to one of the Chiefs’ receivers on sweeps or reverses.
If the Chiefs have their way, they’ll dominate time of possession and keep the clock running, so consider betting overs on anybody who might carry the ball while treading lightly on pass totals.
Isiah Pacheco over 77.5 rushing yards
For the Chiefs, Kelce (ankle) did not practice Monday, but he did get in two limited sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday. DT Matt Dickerson (knee), DE George Karlaftis (hamstring) and LB Nick Bolton (ankle) are all questionable.
On the Broncos side, DT D.J. Jones (knee), LB Baron Browning (knee), and linebacker Frank Clark have been ruled out. RB Javonte Williams (quad) got in two full practice sessions this week and should play.
The forecast is calling for clear skies with winds at 25 km/h out of the south at kickoff. It’s possible that the breezy conditions could slightly impact field goal attempts.
- Only the Bears have hit a higher rate of hitting overs in the NFL than the Broncos’ 4-1 rate of eclipsing the point total.
- Since the start of 2022, the Chiefs have been fairly well-rated as heavy favourites. In that span, they’re 3-3 as double-digit chalk.
- Denver (0-4-1) is one of three teams in the league that has yet to cover the spread.
- Kansas City has gone 19-5 at home since the start of the 2021 season.
Player prop trends
- Pacheco has scored in three straight games, so it’s worth taking a hard look at that -125 line on him to reach the end zone in this one. He’s a juicy +425 to score first or last.
- Wilson is second in the league in pass touchdowns and the Broncos figure to continue winging it under Payton, especially if Kansas City grabs a lead, so consider the over 1.5 on passing touchdowns for Wilson (at +180).
- WR Jerry Jeudy has hit the receiving yards over in 10 of his last 12 games.
Wagers to consider
- The Chiefs have not been particularly strong as home favourites, going 3-5-1 ATS at Arrowhead last season, and with Kelce’s availability in doubt, the Chiefs probably will keep it on the ground for the most part. Lean Denver in this one, but you might have to hold your breath (and nose) in the process.
- The high point total also seems a bit iffy given all of the above. This might be a chance for Reid to show off some of his creative run game, but it’s doubtful Mahomes will suddenly develop a second target he trusts nearly as much as Kelce, who might not be quite as explosive due to that tender ankle. This seems like a spot to consider the under despite that awful Denver defence.