Week 4 comes to a close in this matchup between fierce AFC West rivals. The Broncos started out with consecutive home wins but enter this match off of a poor display against the Ravens last week. Conversely, the Chiefs enter this one as the form team of the AFC, coming off of three straight dominant offensive victories. Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes has been a major talking point of the league after his impressive start to the season, repaying the faith that Coach Andy Reid had in him. The Broncos defence will need to be back to their best to have any chance of shutting down Mahomes and Co this Monday Night.
Where to Watch: ESPN, 7 Mate or NFL Game Pass on Tuesday at 10:20am
After leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship game last year, many fans were surprised that QB Case Keenum was allowed to leave as a free agent and sign with the Broncos. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been the best start to life in Denver for Case. He has three touchdowns to five interceptions this season and hasn’t registered a score in either of the past two weeks. Rookie Running Back Phillip Lindsay had been a rare bright spot for this Broncos offense before his ejection last week. In the receiving game, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders continue to comprise one of the best duos in the league.
Defensively, the Broncos have regressed somewhat from being the best unit in the league during their 2016 Superbowl win. Pass rusher Von Miller still remains one of the best in the league, having managed 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles so far this season. CB Chris Harris and Safety Darian Stewart are also more than capable veterans in the secondary. That being said, the Broncos pass defence has struggled this season. They’ve been gouged through the air by Russell Wilson, Derek Carr and Joe Flacco and will need to improve to contain this explosive Chiefs offense.
Kansas City Chiefs
The talk about the Chiefs this year has to start with the emergence of new Quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He has put up a record 13 touchdowns through 3 weeks, completing over two thirds of his passes in the process. Tight End Travis Kelce remains one of the best in the game, whilst Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins have formed a strong receiving duo. All this explosive offence needs to maximise its potential is for second year Running Back Kareem Hunt to perform as well as he did last season.
On defence, the Chiefs have struggled to stop the pass this season. Each of Phillip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Jimmy Garoppolo has had success throwing on them. Playing in the altitude of Denver, the Chiefs defence will need to be able to force some 3 and outs and win the time of possession battle. The best way to do this is to put consistent pressure on Broncos QB Case Keenum and force him into some errant throws. To do this effectively, a front seven led by Justin Houston, Allen Bailey and Dee Ford will need to be at their pass rushing best.
Given their strong performances last week and overwhelming majority of bets on the Chiefs, I feel as though the Broncos have a good shot at covering here. An often underlooked fact is that they the altitude provides them with one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. They’ve consistently put in strong performances at home throughout the past decade; a trend which has continued at the start of this season.
Buoyed by their raucous home crowd and in front of a national audience, I expect the Broncos to stand up and be counted for in this one. I predict a bit of an offensive shootout where they’ll run the Chiefs close, if not claim the outright upset. QB Case Keenum can definitely put in better performances than what he’s shown so far this season. Expect him to find Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders early and often against a porous Chiefs secondary.
With the way the Chiefs have been playing, it’s hard to predict one of their fixtures going under the total. Patrick Mahomes and Co have got things absolutely cooking on offense. They have an extremely versatile attack that centres around the deep ball connection between Mahomes and Tyreek Hill and the intermediate route running of Travis Kelce. Whilst I expect a better performance from the Broncos defence this week, they can only hope to somewhat contain this Chiefs offense.
It’s on defence where the Chiefs have struggled this season. Whilst Keenum isn’t in the same class as Rivers, Roethlisberger and Jimmy G, he’s still a perfectly competent QB that did start last year’s NFC Championship game. I expect him to have some success against this struggling Chiefs secondary as he attempts to outduel the young Patrick Mahomes.
Chiefs Win 1-13
This bet acts as an effective hedge against our Broncos +4.5 bet whilst also providing a healthy middling opportunity. Whilst I think the Broncos have a shot in this one, it’s likely that this is a one score game that is decided late in proceedings. As such, it’s very much in play that the Chiefs win by less than 4 points. This ensures that the numbers are in our favour and provides the rare but very much realistic possibility of winning both bets.
A primetime division night game at altitude has all the makings of a tight and competitive game. I don’t expect either side to get out to a lead of two touchdowns or more in this game. If it comes down to some last-minute magic, I just have a little bit more faith in the dual threat ability of Mahomes than I do in Keenum.
Best Bet: Broncos +4.5
I expect a better performance from the Broncos this week in front of their home crowd and the nation at large on Monday Night Football. Particularly on offense, the Broncos have the weapons to cause the Chiefs some problems. On defence, they’ll do just enough to contain Mahomes and keep this one close.
Score Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs 34-31 Denver Broncos