The AFC West is under the Thursday Night Football lights in Week 7, when the Kansas City Chiefs come to Mile High to face the Denver Broncos.
Oddsmakers opened this game with Denver as a 4.5-point underdog but money on the home side has cut this spread to +3.
If you’re betting on the NFL odds for Chiefs at Broncos, here are the angles and edges to factor into your handicapping.
KC can’t defend
The Chiefs were never a defensive power, but at least the offense was able to overcome that weakness and force teams to play a different pace. But, with Patrick Mahomes and the scoring attack struggling, this stop unit has been exposed – and then some – in recent games.
Kansas City, which enters Week 7 on a two-game losing skid, has allowed an average of 27 points over the past four games. In the past three games, the Chiefs have been punished on the ground – allowing an average of 186 yards rushing – and watching those opponents take their time with the football, benching Mahomes and the offense for just under 37 minutes per outing.
Denver has the ground game to do just that Thursday night. The Broncos are picking up 116 yards rushing per game and upping that production over the past three outings, with 4.6 yards per carry in that span.
The reigning NFL MVP has been limping around on a bum ankle the past two weeks and a short turnaround for Week 7 won’t help Mahomes’ cause against the Broncos.
Mahomes has come back to earth the past three games, completing only 56% of his passes and boasting a passer rating of just 89.3 in that stretch. To put it into perspective, Mahomes was completing better than 72% of his throws and posted passer ratings of 132 and higher through the first three games of the season.
The Chiefs offensive line must do a better job holding the pocket for Mahomes to find his form. He’s been sacked five times in the past three games and has been pressured out of the pocket, forcing him to scramble on his less-than-healthy ankle.
Denver’s pass rush has gone MIA at times in 2019, going without a single sack in four of its first six games. However, it broke lose with a huge day in Week 6’s win over Tennessee, recording seven sacks in a 16-0 shutout win over the Titans.
Too tall total
The Over/Under for Thursday night is at 48.5 points, which is the lowest total Kansas City has faced all season and its lowest number since Week 14 of the 2018 season when the Chiefs knocked off the Baltimore Ravens in overtime 27-24, playing Over the total.
The Broncos don’t have the same explosive offense, averaging just under 18 points per contest. Denver is 23rd in passing yards (223.3 yards per game) and throws the ball on less than 54.5% of its snaps on the season. Top receiver Emmanuel Sanders is dealing with a knee injury and is hoping to heal up in time for Thursday.
These divisional rivals have gone Over in five of their past eight head-to-head matchups.