Betting Preview and Prediction: Kansas City at Denver

Kansas City is a double-digit favorite Saturday at Denver.

Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs

Line: Kansas City -11.5

Total: 45

Where: Mile High Stadium

When: Saturday, 1/8 at 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: ABC

Kansas City was hoping to clinch the top seed in the AFC last week with a win and a Tennessee loss.

Instead, the Chiefs had their eight-game winning streak snapped in a 34-31 loss at Cincinnati and the Titans moved into the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed with their win over Miami. Kansas City will now be playing its starters at Denver in a game that was flexed to Saturday afternoon at Mile High Stadium.

The Broncos have been officially eliminated from playoff contention following their three-game losing streak that was capped with a 34-13 loss at the Chargers in Week 17. Kansas City was originally a 3-point favorite in this game, but the line had shot all the way up to -10 by Wednesday evening. Then on Thursday, moved shops moved to -11.5, while DraftKings and BetMGM settled at -10.5.

Denver is expected to play its starters to close out a disappointing season, but it could be forced to start its third-string quarterback. Drew Lock has started the last two games in place of a concussed Teddy Bridgewater. However, Lock is dealing with a shoulder injury and Bridgewater is ‘doubtful.’ The future of head coach Vic Fangio remains in doubt following another year with no postseason in Denver.

Lock is expected to be a limited participant at practice this week and is officially ‘probable’ for Saturday’s game. If he is unable to go, Brett Rypien would be in line to start. The Broncos came up short in a 22-9 final at Kansas City when these teams met in early December.

Denver has been an average offensive team, ranked No. 19 in the NFL with 328.4 yards per game. It will be facing a Kansas City defense that is No. 26, allowing 369.3 yards per contest. The Chiefs were unable to come up with key stops in their 34-31 loss at Cincinnati last Sunday.

They will now be relying on Houston to upset Tennessee as a double-digit home underdog in Week 18. Otherwise, the Chiefs will be playing for the No. 2 seed in the AFC. They led 28-17 at halftime last Sunday, but Cincinnati wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase’s 266-yard day was too much to overcome.

Kansas City’s offense has been red-hot, though, scoring at least 30 points in four straight games. The Chiefs rank third in the NFL in yards per game overall this season, averaging 397.3. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes has completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,569 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Tyreek Hill have both gone over the 1,000-yard mark. Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire is averaging 4.3 yards per carry on 119 attempts. They will be facing a Denver defense that is ninth in the league, giving up 322.1 yards per game.

Despite losing on Sunday, Kansas City has still covered the spread in six of its last seven games. The Chiefs have also covered in seven straight trips to Mile High. Denver is 1-4 against the spread in its last five games and is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games against Kansas City.

The Broncos have gone ‘under’ in eight of their last 10 games, while Kansas City has gone ‘over’ in four of its last five games. These teams have cashed the ‘under’ in six of their last seven head-to-head meetings.

The pick: Kansas City -10.5 (BetMGM and DraftKings)

There has been a massive adjustment to this line following the results in Week 17, but I think there is still value at this number. It would be shocking to see Denver keep this game close, especially if it is forced to start its third-string quarterback. Kansas City will be motivated not only to bounce back from a disappointing loss, but also to stay in contention for the No. 1 seed. The Chiefs are not going to want to play a close game for 60 minutes, so I would not be surprised if this spread is comfortably covered by halftime. Denver has only covered the spread twice in its last 12 games against the Chiefs and has failed to cover in the last seven meetings at Mile High Stadium.

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