Free NFL Picks: Broncos at Chiefs Odds and Week 13 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/27/2013
It's pretty simple for the Denver Broncos on Sunday: Beat Kansas City for the second time in three weeks and the Broncos will have a great shot at the top seed in the AFC for the second year in a row -- not that it did much good for Peyton Manning and Co. last year. At worst, a win will all but assure Denver the second seed in the AFC, the first round off and at least one home game. The Broncos will need to finish a game ahead of New England for the No. 1 seed after gagging away last week's game in Foxboro.
Kansas City can go ahead and mark itself down as the AFC's No. 5 seed with a loss. The Chiefs would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker thanks to a sweep and would have to play wild-card weekend likely at either Indianapolis or Cincinnati. Even a win doesn't guarantee Kansas City much because Denver would still have one fewer loss within the division, which is tiebreaker No. 2. Plus, the Chiefs finish with three of four on the road and a very losable game in Week 16 at home against those Colts. Denver will be a solid favorite the rest of the way: vs. Tennessee, vs. San Diego (short week), at Houston, at Oakland. I have a feeling the Broncos would like to clinch home field ASAP to get Manning some rest for his aching ankle.
Broncos at Chiefs Betting Story Lines
Kansas City may have been caught looking ahead last Sunday when the Chargers gashed what used to be the NFL's top defense to the tune of the 491 total yards and 7-for-15 on third down in a 41-38 upset. The Chargers took over on their own 22 with 1:22 left and took 58 seconds to score the winning touchdown, a 26-yard TD pass from Philip Rivers to Seyi Ajirotutu. Kansas City had allowed an average of 12.6 points per game and 304.8 yards in starting 5-0 at home.
The Chiefs did play much of Sunday without arguably the best pass-rushing tandem in the league, linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. It showed as Rivers was sacked once and the Chargers scored 31 second-half points. Houston (11 sacks) suffered a dislocated elbow and is out this week. Hali (nine sacks) thinks he can play through his ankle injury. He's missed just one game due to injury in his eight-year career.
The question is whether the Chiefs will get any pressure on Manning, because they sure didn't in that 27-17 loss in Denver two Sundays ago. Manning, who had suffered a high ankle sprain the week before, not only wasn't sacked, but the Chiefs weren't credited with a QB hit. The only time Manning was on the ground was on a fumble. The Chiefs sent four or fewer pass rushers against Manning on 34 of his 40 dropbacks. It's clear that won't work against No. 18.
Denver tailback Knowshon Moreno had a nice game in that first meeting with 27 carries for 79 yards, but he is iffy for this week. Moreno had a career game with 37 carries for 224 yards last week in the OT loss to New England but left in overtime with a bone bruise on his right ankle. The team is hopeful Moreno can go. If he doesn't Montee Ball will start, but the rookie has been a bit fumble-prone.
Denver will be without a key defender for sure. Tackle Kevin Vickerson is out the rest of the regular season with a dislocated hip. He had started all 11 games and was solid against the run. The good news is that Denver expects tight end Julius Thomas and cornerback Champ Bailey back this week. Thomas missed the Patriots game and Bailey, a future Hall of Famer, has played in only two games all year.
Broncos at Chiefs NFL Week 13 Betting Odds and Trends
At BookMaker, Denver is a 5.5-point favorite (and is taking nearly 70 percent of the action) with a total of 48 (huge lean “over”). The Broncos are 6-4-1 ATS (2-3 on road) and 9-2 “over/under” (4-1 on road). Kansas City is 6-5 ATS (2-4 at home) and 3-8 O/U (2-4 at home). Denver is 4-0 ATS in its past four after a loss.
The Broncos are 5-1 ATS in their past six after allowing more than 30 points in the previous game. Denver has covered only three of its past 10 against teams with a winning record. The Chiefs are 0-4 ATS in their past four after a loss. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five against teams with a winning record. The over has hit in 13 of Denver's past 15 games when scoring at least 30 points in its previous game. The under is 5-1 in Kansas City's past six at home against teams with a winning record. The under is 5-0-1 in the past six meetings. Denver is 5-2 ATS in the past seven.
Free NFL Picks: Broncos at Chiefs Betting Predictions
Good news for Denver fans: It is not expected to be below freezing at kickoff. I'm sure you've read about Manning's issues in those situations, dropping to 1-6 with last week's loss. He just doesn't look right wearing those gloves, with his balls fluttering a bit more than usual. Manning also fumbled twice last week, but the Broncos didn't lose either. His numbers are down overall compared to home in all road games this year, where Denver has suffered both losses.
If Chiefs QB Alex Smith plays like he did last week, going 26-of-38 for 294 yards with three TDs and a pick, then Kansas City should win. He wasn't picked off in the first Denver meeting but completed less than 50 percent of his passes. I'm expecting a bunch of Jamaal Charles, who hasn't had a 20-carry game in his past four. When he has gotten the ball at least 20 times, the Chiefs are 4-0.
Getting Thomas and Bailey back is a big deal. I think Moreno plays because then he can rest a few weeks. Manning hasn't lost two straight with Denver since Weeks 2-3 last year. I don't see that happening here as. Denver wins by a touchdown. Take the under as there should be a similar score -- say 27-20 -- to the last meeting.
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