The Denver Broncos attempt to continue their recent dominance in the all-time series when they visit the Kansas City Chiefs for a key AFC West battle on Sunday night. Denver, which holds a one-game lead over Kansas City and San Diego in the division, has won five straight meetings with the Chiefs – including a 24-17 victory at home in Week 2. The Broncos were cruising atop the West at 6-1 before losing two of three on the road, dropping them into a first-place tie with the Chiefs.
However, Denver rebounded with a 39-36 home triumph over Miami last Sunday, scoring 22 consecutive points in the fourth quarter as Peyton Manning sandwiched two of his four touchdown passes around a scoring run by C.J. Anderson to erase a 28-17 deficit. The late rally helped give the Broncos sole possession of the division lead as Kansas City earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first victim of the Oakland Raiders three days earlier. The Chiefs overcame an early 14-0 deficit and grabbed a 20-17 lead with nine minutes remaining in the fourth quarter before allowing Derek Carr’s 9-yard TD pass to James Jones with 1:42 to play.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: After opening as a pick’em, the line briefly moved to Kansas City -1. By Wednesday, the line jumped the fence to KC +1 and got as high as +2. Currently the line sits at KC +1. The total has not moved from it’s opening of 49.5.
INJURY REPORT: Broncos – RB Ronnie Hillman (Ques-Foot), TE Julius Thomas (Ques-Ankle), CB Aqib Talib (Ques-Hamstrong), LB Brandon Marshall (Ques-Co9ncussion) Chiefs – TE Anthony Fasano (Ques-Knee), WR Donnie Avery (Prob-Groin), OL Donald Stephenson (Ques-Shoulder)
WEATHER FORECAST: Skies are expected to be partly cloudy with winds blowing to the north as high as 13 mph. Temperatures are expected to hover around the freezing point.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Broncos (-6.25) + Chiefs (-5) + home field (-3.0) = Chiefs -1.75
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “This is a rematch from the September 14th game in Denver when the Broncos won 24-17, but failed to cover the pointspread as a 13-point home favorite. A substantial adjustment in the pointspread now for this rematch as the oddsmakers are saying Denver would only be about a 7.5-point home favorite now. Kansas City actually held a 28-19 first down edge and a 380-325 total yard edge, but this was largely due to the extreme time of possession edge the Chiefs had in the game (36-24 minutes). Denver was more explosive on offense with quick scoring drives and big plays which was evident in their substantial 7.1 to 5.1 yards per play advantage in the game.” – Covers Expert Steve Merril
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “The Broncos may have found a little footing against Miami, but this certainly is going to be a difficult game for them. I expect the Chiefs to come in with a very good gameplan offensively. Some wiseguys were in a buyback situation here, grabbing Denver early and then taking K.C. at +2. We should see more square support for the visitors Sunday afternoon.” – John Lester, Senior Lines Manager at Booksmaker.eu
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS, 8-3 O/U): Julius Thomas took a step toward returning to action as he participated in practice on Thursday. The tight end missed last week’s victory over Miami with a sprained ankle suffered in the previous game against St. Louis. Thomas entered Week 13 tied with Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch for the league lead with 12 touchdowns. Manning registered his NFL-record 35th career game with at least four TD passes last week while also becoming the third player in league history with a scoring toss in 50 consecutive contests.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (7-4 SU, 8-3 ATS, 4-7 O/U): As if playing for a share of the division lead isn’t enough, Kansas City figures to rally around the situation involving safety Eric Berry, whose season came to an end due to a mass found on the right side of his chest last week. Berry, who was placed on the non-football injury list Monday, is expected to visit a lymphoma specialist for a final diagnosis. “I believe that I am in God’s hands and I have great peace in that,” Berry said in a statement. “I know my coaches and teammates will hold things down here the rest of the season and until I am back running out of the tunnel at Arrowhead. … I will be back!” Dwayne Bowe needs 48 receiving yards to join Tony Gonzalez (10,940) and Otis Taylor (7,306) as the only Chiefs to eclipse the 7,000 mark.
*Chiefs are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 vs. AFC.
*Over is 5-0 in Broncos last 5 games on grass.
*Broncos are 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 vs. AFC West.
*Under is 6-1-1 in the last 8 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 63.39 percent of Covers users are backing Denver +1 with 59.6 percent taking the over.