The Denver Broncos have won four consecutive AFC West titles but they’ll face an early-season showdown for division supremacy when they visit the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. The Broncos failed to score an offensive touchdown in a 19-13 victory over visiting Baltimore while Kansas City eased to a 27-20 win at Houston that was not as close as the final score indicated.
Denver quarterback Peyton Manning attempted to allay concerns over the lack of productivity from the offense as the team adopts more of a ball-control offense under new coach Gary Kubiak. “Everybody is looking for these summaries of our offense and our team after Week 1 and I just don’t think we’re going to be able to do that,” Manning said. “It’s Week 1. We’re a work in progress. … We’re trying to get better every single week.” Meanwhile, the Chiefs shot out to a 27-9 halftime lead over the Texans behind three scoring passes from Alex Smith, but they face a nemesis in Manning and the Broncos. Denver has won six consecutive meetings in the series, including its last four visits to Kansas City.
TV: 8:25 p.m. ET, CBS, NFL Network.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Chiefs as 2.5-point home faves but that is now up to -3. The total is down to 41.5 from the opening 43.
INJURY REPORT: Broncos – QB Peyton Manning (Probable, back), LB Lerentee McCray (Probable, groin), S David Bruton Jr. (Probable, ankle), WR Demaryius Thomas (Probable, hand), S Darian Stewart (Questionable, groin), DE Malik Jackson (Questionable, concussion), RB C.J. Anderson (Questionable, toe), S Omar Bolden (Doubtful, foot), DE Kenny Anunike (Out, knee). Chiefs – LB Tamba Hali (Probable, neck), DB Sean Smith (Eligible Week 4, suspension).
WEATHER: Temperatures will be in the low-80s with a 15 percent chance of rain. Wind will blow toward the north at around 14 miles per hour.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Broncos (-4) + Chiefs (-2.5) + home field (-3) = Chiefs -1
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Denver showed on Sunday that they are capable of winning games against solid foes even when Peyton Manning looks like the 39-year-old QB that he is. Alex Smith still didn’?t throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver, but he did throw three TD?s to TE Travis Kelce and RB Jamaal Charles.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 0-1 O/U): Manning’s arm strength, or lack thereof, has been a hot-button topic throughout the preseason and he finished with only 175 yards without a scoring pass in the opener, but he has thrown for 1,736 yards with 16 TDs versus three interceptions in six meetings against the Chiefs since joining Denver. C.J. Anderson was limited to 29 yards on 12 carries while dealing with a sprained toe, but he was at practice Tuesday night along with star wideout Demaryius Thomas, who suffered a hand injury versus Baltimore. The Broncos’ defense, which produced the lone touchdown in Week 1 on Aqib Talib’s interception return, limited the Ravens to only 173 total yards.
ABOUT THE CHIEFS (1-0 SU, 1-0 ATS, 1-0 O/U): Smith has been typecast as a game manager but he got a vote of confidence – “Alex was on the money all day” – from tight end Travis Kelce, who had a huge opening game with six catches for 106 yards and a pair of scores. Running back Jamaal Charles had a relative quiet season debut with 57 yards rushing while matching newcomer Jeremy Maclin with five catches, but he has scored 15 touchdowns in his last 14 games overall. Kansas City yielded an AFC-low 281 points last season and received a boost with the return of linebacker Derrick Johnson, who registered a team-high eight tackles in his first game back after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon.
* Under is 7-1-1 in the last nine meetings.
* Broncos are 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings in Kansas City.
* Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last five vs. AFC West.
* Chiefs are 6-1 ATS in their last seven home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-nine percent of Covers users are the Chiefs.