No team has repeated as the Super Bowl champion since the New England Patriots in the 2003-04 seasons. And if the Denver Broncos lose Sunday night’s AFC West showdown at Kansas City, that drought will continue as the Broncos’ playoff hopes are in major jeopardy even with a victory but gone with a loss. It’s also a crucial game for the Chiefs and they are home favourites on Sports Interaction NFL odds.
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Point spread: Chiefs -4.5
Date: Sunday, Dec. 25, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City
The Broncos (8-6) have won the AFC West the past five years, but that streak is already over. They currently sit ninth in the AFC standings so it’s wild card or bust. ESPN statistical sister site FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Broncos a 17% chance of making the playoffs. That goes down to 7% with a loss in Kansas City. A victory over the Chiefs jumps the Broncos’ chances to 42%. And then a victory next week in the home finale vs. Oakland gets Denver to 62%.
If you are a Denver backer or holding a Broncos playoff ticket at Sports Interaction, you need your team to not just win both games but for the Bills to beat the Dolphins (9-5), the Jaguars to beat the Titans (8-6) and the Steelers to beat the Ravens (8-6) this week. Then root for the Bengals over the Ravens, Texans over the Titans and Patriots over the Dolphins in Week 17. Got all that? Among the wild-card possibilities, the Broncos own a head-to-head win over Houston but lost to Tennessee for tiebreaker purposes.
Last year the Broncos were carried by their defense and that has been the case again in 2016. The offense simply isn’t doing its part most weeks. Trevor Siemian, in his first year as a starter, has put up decent numbers. In 12 games, he has thrown for 3.012 yards and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions.
But too often, it doesn’t lead to points. The past two weeks have been a good example of Denver’s season: the Broncos held the Titans to 13 points in Week 14, but the offense managed 10. And this past Sunday, that defense held the high-powered Patriots to just 16 points and Tom Brady to a season-low 188 yards and no TDs, but the offense could only score a meager field goal. Afterward, there was a reported scuffle between members of the Denver secondary and offensive line (a weak spot this year) in the locker room.
Denver is 8-6 against the spread this season and 4-3 ATS on the road.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs (10-4) had put themselves in the driver’s seat to win the AFC West and get a first-round playoff bye with a 21-13 home win over Oakland in Week 14. But then on Sunday in the frigid conditions at Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City gave one away in a 19-17 loss to the Titans. The Tennessee kicker, Ryan Succop, missed the winning 53-yard field goal try as time expired — except that Chiefs coach Andy Reid called timeout to ice Succop, a former Kansas City player, right before the snap. So while Succop was 5 yards short on the first try, he was able to connect when given the second chance. Had the Chiefs gotten just one first down on their previous drive, they could have run out the clock.
Kansas City would have clinched a playoff spot with a victory. And with Oakland’s win over San Diego, the Raiders (11-3) are back atop the division and now control their own destiny. But the Chiefs are in the postseason with a victory here or next week in San Diego. If they finish tied with the Raiders, the Chiefs would take the division title. But Kansas City now has no route to get the AFC’s No. 1 overall playoff seed should it win the AFC West.
Offensively, the Chiefs are similar to the Broncos in that it often doesn’t support a strong defense enough. In the past three games, the Chiefs have failed to score a point on offense in the second half. They had the ball inside the Tennessee 10 twice in the final three quarters and didn’t score a point either time. Alex Smith threw a crushing interception in Titans’ end zone and hasn’t had a game with multiple TD passes since Oct. 23. Frankly, the Chiefs’ Reid doesn’t care about passing stats as long as the Chiefs run the ball well. They had 158 yards on 28 carries vs. Tennessee but 68 of that (and a TD) came on one play from usual receiver Tyreek Hill.
Kansas City is 7-7 ATS and 2-5 ATS at home.
Broncos vs. Chiefs Predictions
These two played one of the most entertaining games of the season in Week 12 in Denver, also a Sunday night and a 30-27 OT win for Kansas City. Smith led a late touchdown drive in regulation, hitting Hill on a 3-yard pass with 12 seconds left, and tied it on a 2-point conversion pass. Both teams kicked field goals in OT, but then late in extra time, Broncos coach Gary Kubiak opted to try a 62-yarder to win it. Predictably, it missed and the Chiefs capitalized on good field position to drive down quickly and win it on a 34-yard kick with two seconds left. That tie instead of victory could easily be what keeps Denver out of the postseason.
Go Chiefs here on NFL odds as it’s tough to see them losing back-to-back home games. Go over that really small total.