Monday Night Football Predictions: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
Getting a bit tired of all these splits on my NFL picks - although at least I haven't gone 0-2 yet. It was another wash last Monday night as I went against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa because I felt the Steelers were dealing with too many distractions. However, the magic ran out for Ryan Fitzpatrick as his three interceptions ruined Tampa's chance to win, which was our call. We did hit over the total.
This week, the world gets its first national television look at young Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) superstar Patrick Mahomes as they visit the Denver Broncos (2-1) in an AFC West clash. A win here would already put Kansas City in command to win the division again because it would have essentially a three-game lead over the Broncos with a head-to-head tiebreaker and the same over the 1-2 Chargers, who should win Sunday over the Jimmy Garoppolo-less San Francisco 49ers but lost Week 1 at home to the Chiefs. Kansas City is -225 to win the division.
The Chiefs, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins were the only unbeatens entering Week 3, and I'm fairly confident Miami won't be by Sunday evening. Should we be surprised that an Andy Reid team has started quickly? Nope, they almost always do. Last year, K.C. started 5-0 before going into a midseason slump - only to right the ship and win the West. The year before, the Chiefs started 7-2. What Reid has to do is show he can win in the playoffs.
As for Denver? Decent team, might contend for a wild card. A .500 record is probably necessary for second-year coach Vance Joseph to keep his job.
Chiefs at Broncos Betting Story Lines
The Chiefs, of course, traded way up in the 2017 first round to take Mahomes out of Texas Tech even though they had a very good quarterback in his prime in Alex Smith. Reid took a major risk jettisoning Smith to Washington after his best season, but clearly Reid saw a future star in Mahomes, who has been even better than Reid could have dreamed.
Mahomes is your clear NFL MVP through three games and indeed the +300 favorite. He seems to be setting a new record every week. Mahomes' 13 touchdown passes are an NFL record in the first three games of a season, surpassing a guy named Peyton Manning (12) in 2013 with the Broncos. That was the year Manning threw for an NFL-record 55; no, I don't think Mahomes breaks that. His rating right now is an absurd 137.4, which would shatter the single-season mark.
Can Mahomes keep this up? He does have an imaginative offense and some spectacular talent around him in Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and tight end Travis Kelce. The Chiefs lead the NFL by a mile in scoring at 39.3 ppg. The offense won't stay at quite that level but should remain among the NFL's best. This team's Super Bowl hopes all come down to a defense that's allowing 30.7 ppg, better than only the Chargers and Saints. With star safety Eric Berry banged up and yet to play this year (heel), I'm trading for Pro Bowler Earl Thomas from the Seahawks if I'm Kansas City. Thomas is very available, but it will be costly.
I believe the 2018 Broncos will be a team that can beat anyone when it's at home but lose to anyone on the road. Denver got close last wins the first two weeks over the Seahawks and Raiders - not very good teams - before losing 27-14 last week in Baltimore.
Don't believe Case Keenum has solved John Elway's quarterback problem. Keenum threw for 329 yards and three scores in Week 1 but had three picks - he has also been intercepted in each of the past two with his yardage steadily dropping. Go ahead and put down the Broncos for a quarterback in the first round of the 2019 draft. Remember, they could have had either Josh Allen or Josh Rosen this year but took NC State defensive end Bradley Chubb. He has been solid with eight tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Needless to say, the Broncos need their secondary in full health this week. Cornerback Tramaine Brock left the Baltimore loss with a groin injury but is expected to play Monday. Ditto Adam Jones, who missed the Ravens game with a hamstring injury.
Chiefs at Broncos Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , the Chiefs are 5-point favorites (-110) with a total of 56 (high of week). On the moneyline, K.C. is -220 and Denver is +180. On the alternate lines, the Chiefs are -5.5 (-105) and -4.5 (-115). Kansas City is 3-0 against the spread (2-0 on road) and 3-0 "over/under" (2-0 on road). Denver is 0-2-1 ATS (0-1-1 at home) and 1-2 O/U (1-1 at home).
Kansas City is 4-1 ATS in its past five Monday games. The Broncos are 1-8 ATS in their past nine after a loss. They are 0-5 ATS in their past five against the AFC West. The over is 4-0 in K.C.'s previous four Monday games. The under is 7-2 in Denver's past nine at home vs. teams with a winning road record. The Chiefs are 5-0 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 5-0-1 in the previous six.
Chiefs at Broncos Betting Prediction
Kansas City has run roughshod over the entire division for a few years (17-1 in past 18), including winning five straight vs. the Broncos. Last year's Week 17 game in Denver was meaningless but still notable because it was Mahomes' first start - with playoff seeding locked up, Reid rested Smith and most starters.
Maybe Mahomes is this good, but I believe in the law of averages and that means he's due a mediocre game. Von Miller needs to be the difference here in that Denver pass rush. I think the Broncos can win this game but obviously will take those 5.5 points. Go under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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