The Denver Broncos travel to Arrowhead Stadium for a pivotal AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football marking Week 13. Predictably, top sportsbooks have cornered this game with the Chiefs, but with a point spread ranging between 9.5 and 10 points, bettors are turning towards Denver and grabbing the points for their NFL picks.
Does the market have it right or should bettors tail the public and bank on the Broncos to pull off the cover, if not win outright entirely?
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Sunday, December 5, 2021 – 8:20 PM EST at Arrowhead Stadium
Chiefs Ride Roughshod Over AFC West
The Kansas City Chiefs enjoyed a much-needed bye week during the holidays, and while they rested up and took in the festivities over Thanksgiving week, their perch at the top of the AFC West wasn’t disturbed. The prospect was there, but it never happened. Thanks expressly to the Denver Broncos, who upset the Los Angeles Chargers at Mile High on Sunday.,
The Chargers went into Week 12 with a 6-4 record, just one game shy of the Chiefs at 7-4. However, with the tiebreaker in hand on account of upsetting the Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium earlier this season, a win over Denver would have catapulted Los Angeles to the top of the table. Alas, they let the opportunity slip through their fingers.
Having said that, it’s clear that Kansas City’s lead in the AFC West and their bid to claim a fourth straight title in the Patrick Mahomes era isn’t solid. The Chiefs haven’t dominated their division as they’ve done in season’s past, and that means nothing is a given and there’s still all to play for as the season enters the home stretch. The Chiefs are still favored across sports betting markets to win the AFC West, but the NFL futures odds are a lot tighter than they were at the start of the season.
The Chiefs will be mindful of their predicament when they face the Denver Broncos on Sunday Night Football. The expectation is that the rest will have given Mahomes and company time to iron out their offensive issues.
The defense has been playing solid ball lately, and it’s largely down their stoic defending that the Chiefs have managed to turn around the worst start in Mahomes’ career. But everyone’s waiting for the Chiefs offense to truly light up and for Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce to literally torch an opposing defense with the kind of ruthless consistency that we’ve seen before and come to expect as a certainty.
Broncos Won’t Go Away
Getting a handle on the Broncos this season has been challenging. They started brightly with a 3-0 record before the wheels came undone and they went on a four-game skid to slip to a 3-4 record and the bottom of the AFC West standings.
At that point, many were ready to write off the Broncos. The surprising decision to part ways with Von Miller (traded to Los Angeles Rams) seemed to suggest the Broncos were selling out on the season entirely. Giving further ammunition to the notion that they were done and done.
And yet, against all the odds, since moving away from Miller, the Broncos have seemingly righted the ship. They’ve won three out of their four games and improved to a 6-5 record on the season, which puts them firmly on par with the Chargers and Raiders in the standings (all tied on a 6-5 record). This also means that Denver is back in the playoff conversation and, crucially, in the race for the AFC West title.
How the Broncos beat the Chargers last weekend was a minor miracle. Teddy Bridgewater started brightly but was forced out of the first quarter with a banged-up shin. Drew Lock stepped in for the second time this season in relief, and he very nearly tanked the Broncos with his error-prone ways. His first play was a fumble and before the end of the first half, he tossed an interception which set up the Chargers with a short field and an easy touchdown. Vic Fangio didn’t mess about and promptly fielded an injured Bridgewater in the second half, which says all one needs to know about the quarterback depth chart.
NFL Predictions and Picks
Books have rolled out a rather lopsided market for this game with the Chiefs spotting the Broncos 9.5 points across multiple top-rated sportsbooks. Some shops have gone as high as Chiefs -10. Now, avid NFL bettors will know that the Chiefs have been one of the worst performers against the spread this season. They’re merely 4-7-0 ATS on the season. Worse yet, they’re merely 1-5-0 ATS as home favorites this season.
Kansas City’s discouraging ATS betting trends have prompted bettors to jump on the Broncos’ bandwagon. As things currently stand, the Broncos are getting 93% of the early action according to consensus betting trends. That’s quite a hefty chunk that’s backing the Broncos to at least cover as the 9.5 to 10-point road underdogs.
However, there’s a caveat here that’s worth considering and that is the health and fitness of Bridgewater. Without the veteran signal-caller, the Broncos’ chances plunge dramatically.
Teddy Bridgewater is one of those NFL feel-good stories. One feels for him after everything he’s been through, including a horrific leg injury that very nearly ended his career several years ago when he was with the Minnesota Vikings. He’s worked his way back to becoming a starter in the NFL, and he’s earned the respect and admiration of his Denver teammates and fans.
In the interest of competition, it would be great if he was in peak form for this Sunday Night Football clash. Only then will this contest be a right cracker. Should Bridgewater be hindered in any way shape or form or be unable to start altogether, it’s hard to see the Broncos cover this game, never mind win.
Considering this uncertainty, the Chiefs as the big home favorites may well be the better bet after all, even though the stats say otherwise. They’re gaining momentum and improving with each passing week. This could be the game that sees them finally light up, and the timing would be perfect – on national television, under the lights with a packed Arrowhead Stadium cheering them on.
NFL Picks: Chiefs -9.5 (-105) with DraftKing