Sunday Night Football Picks: Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs Predictions
- Kansas City has the number one passing offense in success rate both for the season and over the past six weeks. They are also top 10 in explosive passing play rate in both timeframes.
I hate taking huge favorites, especially in divisional games, but you won’t see me get away from it here. The line is massive and for very good reason. These teams met in Denver back in Week 7 and the Chiefs won by 27, or double the 13.5 they will need to cover here in Week 13.
Now, to be fair, the Chiefs had a defensive score in that game and actually posted a season low 286 total yards. Patrick Mahomes threw for 200 yards on the dot, his lowest figure of the season. Chad Henne did take over late in that blowout, but the Broncos played reasonably decent defense.
And yet, the Chiefs still rolled. Drew Lock has really struggled this season, and he struggled in that last outing against Kansas City. He didn’t play last week while on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and his return will certainly improve this offense over last week’s debacle where practice squad wide receiver Kendall Hinton was forced into starting quarterback duties and the Broncos totaled one completion all game.
But Lock has shown very little to indicate that he’s a difference maker at this stage in his career, and that’s frankly putting it nicely. Through 13 career starts, Lock has completed just 58.7% of his passes, averaged just 214 passing yards per game, and thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Patrick Mahomes is playing at the absolute peak of his powers, and Andy Reid has absolutely turned him loose of late. While the Chiefs were surprisingly run-heavy at times early in the season, and Mahomes had a lower-than-usual average throw depth, a switch seemed to flip right after that first Denver game. Mahomes has thrown at least 42 times for at least 348 yards in each of the Chiefs’ four games since, and his lead receiver Tyreek Hill has absolutely exploded to the tune of 9.3 receptions and 145.5 yards per game, plus eight total touchdowns. Travis Kelce has continued to be the steady presence in the short and intermediate areas of the field, and the Chiefs have overtaken Seattle as the single most pass-happy team in the league in terms of pass rate over expectation in neutral situations, per Ben Baldwin of The Athletic.
That willingness to pass in all game situations has served Kansas City well, and it should serve them well again here. The line is massive, Denver has a reasonably decent defense, and Kansas City has given up some late points in recent wins that could be concerning for a backdoor cover. But I’m not confident the Broncos in their current state can pull that off. Two touchdowns is a big spread, but I’ll be legitimately surprised if Denver stays within double digits, and something resembling the 27-point beatdown from the first meeting between these two teams is definitely in play. I’m taking the Chiefs and a Patrick Mahomes statement on Sunday night.
NFL Expert Picks
1u - Kansas City Chiefs -13.5 @ +100
NFL Free Picks
We don't have a Thursday Night Football clash this week due to the rescheduled Ravens and Steelers game that took place at the end of Week 12. Week 13 sees a number of divisional clashes with the Saints and Falcons, Colts and Texans, and Rams and Cardinals meeting on Sunday. Sunday Night Football sees the Broncos face the Chiefs in a divisional clash on primetime. On Monday we'll get two games with the Washington Football Team's trip to Pittsburgh televised ahead of the Bills vs. 49ers meeting on Monday Night Football. We get bonus football again on Tuesday with the Ravens welcoming the Cowboys to M&T Bank Stadium.
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