I clearly should have done my homework last week because I generally don't like previewing the same NFL team two weeks in a row if avoidable. I picked the Ravens-Broncos game in Week 1 because it was a potential playoff preview, but I didn't bother looking ahead to Week 2, and it's Denver at Kansas City on Thursday night, the first NFL Network/CBS Thursday telecast of the season. So I'll try and focus more on the Chiefs here if possible. The good news is I did hit on the Broncos in that game on Sunday.
Broncos at Chiefs Betting Story Lines
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Denver closed as a 4.5-point favorite against Baltimore and won very ugly, 19-13 (I did miss on the total of 46.5). That's obviously a nice win over a potential Super Bowl contender, but I am a tad concerned if I'm a Broncos backer. Peyton Manning looked really shaky at the end of last season, and that was on display again vs. Baltimore. He threw for only 175 yards, no touchdowns and had a pick returned for a score. Counting the preseason, the NFL's greatest regular-season QB ever has yet to find the goal line in 21 drives. He might really miss former Pro Bowl tight end Julius Thomas this season; Thomas was his red-zone guy. Manning was also sacked four times.
The Broncos were expected to run a bit more this season under new coach Gary Kubiak, but they had 25 carries for only 69 yards against Baltimore. Top Broncos running back C.J. Anderson hurt his ankle a bit in the win and didn't practice on Monday. But Anderson says he's fine and will play Thursday. Manning was also on the injury report with a back problem, but he's fine too. The Broncos also will get starting safety T.J. Ward back here after he was suspended for Week 1.
Kansas City looked like an AFC contender in Week 1, dominating Houston 27-20 as a 1-point road favorite. That score is pretty misleading as the Chiefs were up 27-6 late in the third quarter. Texans backup QB Ryan Mallett led his team to some garbage scores after Coach Bill O'Brien pulled ineffective starter Brian Hoyer. Alex Smith was sharp for K.C., completing 22-for-33 for 243 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers. Jamaal Charles was relatively quiet with 16 carries for 57 yards, but did have five catches for 46 yards and a TD. New No. 1 receiver Jeremy Maclin had five catches for 52 yards. Tight end Travis Kelce caught six passes for 106 yards and two scores. And 2014 sack king Justin Houston had a sack, forcing a Hoyer fumble that would eventually lead to a Chiefs score. I doubt Coach Andy Reid has much to complain about this week in practices.
There was one really interesting story out of that game. K.C. right tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 (that looks like a bust so far), reportedly told the team late last week that he wasn't ready to "deal" with Houston superstar defensive lineman J.J. Watt because Fisher had a high ankle sprain. Yet Fisher practiced last week. Reid denied that Fisher asked out of the lineup and said it was his decision to hold Fisher out. In Fisher's place, Reid started Jah Reid, who was signed last Monday after spending the past four seasons with Baltimore and had only a couple of practices to get up to speed. Presumably Fisher plays here unless he's scared of Von Miller or whomever. That Denver defense was fantastic vs. the Ravens, holding them to 173 total yards and no offensive touchdowns.
Broncos at Chiefs NFL Week 2 Betting Odds and Trends
The Broncos are 5-0 against the spread in their past five vs. the AFC West. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven following a win. Denver has covered six of its past seven on Thursday. The Chiefs are 6-1 ATS in their past seven at home. They are 6-2 ATS in their past eight vs. the AFC West. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Denver's past six after a win. The under is 9-4 in the Chiefs' past 13 overall. The under is 7-1-1 in the past nine meetings. Denver has covered five of the past six in K.C.
Free NFL Picks: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Betting Predictions
Manning is the all-time leader on Thursdays with 3,591 passing yards, 38 touchdown passes and a 123.7 passer rating. Since joining Denver in 2012, he has 1,347 passing yards and 13 touchdowns for a 118.1 passer rating on Thursdays. He's also just 134 yards shy of 70,000 career passing yards. The Chiefs, meanwhile, will honor their Super Bowl I and IV teams before the game and at halftime.
Denver has won all six meetings vs. Kansas City under Manning. The Broncos won 24-17 at home in Week 2 last year and 29-16 in Week 13 at Arrowhead. Manning had five combined TD passes and no picks in those games but not a ton of yards.
I'll take Denver on the 3.5-point alternate line and go under the total. Chiefs may win, but I find it hard to imagine it would be by more than a field goal.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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