Chiefs-Broncos Betting Preview & Pick: Can Denver Slow Down Mahomes?
I knew better than to pick against the Patriots coming off back-to-back losses and playing a divisional rival (that struggles to win in Foxborough) at home. But I just couldn’t get past what I saw in Detroit when the Lions dominated Tom Brady and Co. So I took my shot with the Dolphins. Miami wasn’t even competitive, which was predictable in hindsight.
Nevertheless, it was another winning Sunday for my picks, as my two winners were no-doubters. The Bengals and Falcons nearly hit the 53.5 over in the first half and the Bears blew out the Bucs as a 3-point home favorite.
With that 2-1 day, I am now 14-4-1 on the season. It was a fantastic September and as the calendar now turns to October, hopefully, the wins keep coming.
Some quick-hit betting thoughts from Week 5:
- Don’t assume the high-scoring games will stop for the Falcons. They lost yet another defender on Sunday when outstanding defensive tackle Grady Jarrett hurt his ankle. The secondary was awful in the loss to the Bengals, especially from a communication standpoint as Cincinnati’s wideouts ran wild in Atlanta’s secondary. I’m going to keep banging that over in Falcons games until Dan Quinn tells Steve Sarkisian to go more ball-control to protect his defense. That will happen. It must.
- As I wrote in my MNF pick for Week 2, when the Bears hosted the Seahawks, Chicago has the most-improved team in the league. Matt Nagy is a disciple of Andy Reid and knows what he’s doing from a play-calling standpoint. If the Bears keep laying small numbers (-3), as they did on Sunday at home, I’ll stick with them, too. Every year oddsmakers are slow to adjust lines on certain teams the public hasn’t caught on to yet. The Bears are that team this year.
- Every week there are what bettors refer to as “trap games,” where the point spread looks too good to be true. That was the case yesterday in Nashville, where the Titans were only 3-point home dogs to the Eagles. They rallied to win outright, burning anyone who gladly laid only a field goal with the defending Super Bowl champs. I’m not saying don’t play the Eagles if you feel great about them but proceed with caution when the line looks like a sure thing. By the way, I have no idea what to make of the Titans. I’m staying the hell away from them for now.
- The Raiders were the benefactors of a controversial call yesterday against the Browns, who had the game essentially iced with a late first-down run (or what they thought was a first-down run). That said, Oakland should have won in Denver in Week 2 and dominated Miami for three quarters a week ago. The Raiders aren’t good, but they’re better than most think. They’ll be an intriguing underdog play when oddsmakers inflate lines.
- Speaking of the Raiders, hopefully, you bought the hook on the Browns (+2.5) if you liked them—without it, you would have lost. Same goes for the Seahawks, who were -3.5 and won by a field goal. It’s never a bad idea to buy the hook on key numbers (3, 7, 10, etc).
277 Kansas City Chiefs at 278 Denver Broncos
- Point Spread: Chiefs -3.5
- O/U: 54.5
- Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
The line movement for this game has been interesting. The Chiefs opened as 3.5-point favorites. The line was bet up to as high as 5 at some sports books, but then bettors started to buy back on the Broncos at +5, then +4.5 and then +4. As of Monday morning, the spread is back down to Kansas City -3.5. As for the total, it hit the board at 55 but was bet down to 54.5.
As of this writing, 67 percent of the betting tickets are on the Chiefs to cover the spread and so is 62 percent of the money wagered at online sportsbooks. The public betting numbers are interesting for the total, as only 51 percent of the betting tickets and 51 percent of the money wagered is on the over. I thought that would be higher since it’s a Monday night and the Chiefs are playing. (More on that below.)
Broncos tight end Jake Butt (knee) is out for the season but their offense is otherwise healthy. The defense, however, is banged-up. Adam Jones is dealing with a thigh injury, fellow cornerback Tramaine Brock has a groin strain, while linebacker Brandon Marshall (knee), defensive tackle Shelby Harris (ankle) and safety Dymonte Thomas (abdominal) all missed at least some practice time this week.
For the Chiefs, Eric Berry will miss his fourth consecutive game due to a heel injury, while linebackers Dee Ford (Groin) and Terrance Smith (shin) are also banged-up. Kansas City’s high-powered offense, however, is fully intact.
The Chiefs are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games against the Broncos and are 4-0 at the betting window in their last four trips to the Mile High City. The road team has also covered the spread in seven of the last nine meetings, while the over is 5-0-1 in the last six games between these two teams.
If you’ve been looking for a reason to fade me following my hot start, I’m going to give you one tonight: I love the under.
If you’re still reading, bear with me through the rest of the article. As previously mentioned, public bettors love to take the over in primetime games. Why? Because nobody wants to bet on the under and then sit there and watch zero scoring. It’s the last game of the week, which means it’s the final opportunity to either make yourself whole from the weekend, recover some of your losses, or add to your winnings. Either way, a lot of bettors will pound the over because it’ll make them feel good that no matter what, they’ll still have an opportunity to win heading into the fourth quarter. (As with the under, which can be lost as early as the first quarter.)
Sportsbooks know this, which is why you’ll see inflated numbers on Sunday and Monday night games. That doesn’t mean the over will never cash in primetime matchups (the over is 2-2 in the four Monday night games played this season), but again, you’re dealing with inflated numbers.
Tonight is the perfect spot to take the under because the high-powered Chiefs are playing. In their three games this season, they’ve scored 38, 42 and 38 points, respectively. Also, in their three games this season, they’ve allowed 28, 37 and 27 points. They’re the perfect ‘over’ team.
That said, this matchup reminds me a lot of the one we watched Sunday night in Pittsburgh. The total for that Ravens-Steelers matchup was 51 and after Baltimore shut Pittsburgh’s offense out in the second half, the score fell under by 11 points.
Just like last night, these teams know each other well. They’re division rivals and they’ve had an extra day to prepare, which means the Broncos had a full 24 hours more to figure out how Andy Reid will attack their defense. If Denver comes up with a new wrinkle or two to throw at Patrick Mahomes, perhaps the Chiefs only score 28 points tonight instead of 38. If Kansas City’s offense is off just a little compared to the previous three weeks, that could make all the difference in hitting the under.
I also must believe that the Broncos will roll out a ball-control game plan. Their offense is good, but it can’t hang with the Chiefs for four quarters. It would be in Denver’s best interest to bleed the clock, keep Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt on the sidelines, and try to protect its defense as much as possible. If the Broncos attempt to get into a shootout, then Denver will likely join the under bettors in losing tonight.
Finally, this will be the third road game the Chiefs have played in the first four weeks of the season. The schedule makers did Reid’s club zero favors by forcing them to go to L.A. for Week 1, to Pittsburgh for Week 2, back home for Week 3 and then out to Denver for Week 4. A fatigued Kansas City team would also benefit under bettors.
If you’ve made it all the way through my reasoning for the under and you still feel as though the Chiefs will hang 40+ points on the board tonight, hey, go for the over. It’s more fun to root for points anyway. But I think fans will be surprised to see how this one plays out.
Pick: Under 54.5
- Week 1: 5-0
- Week 2: 3-2
- Week 3: 4-1
- Week 4: 2-1-1
- Overall: 14-4-1
Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images.