Denver Broncos (3-3) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)
The Broncos started the season 3-1 before their bye week, with wins over the Chargers, Cowboys (by 25), and Raiders, but they’ve lost back-to-back games to the Giants and Chargers since the bye and the public has soured on them as a result. They’ve been outscored 44-10 in those 2 games, but their defense has still played at a high level, allowing just 26 first downs and 3 offensive touchdowns combined. On the season, they still rank #1 in first down rate allowed at 27.95%. Despite an offense that ranks 23rd in first down rate, the Broncos have the 5th best first down rate differential in the NFL.
The Broncos offense is worse than that right now with Emmanuel Sanders likely to miss his 2nd straight game with an ankle injury, but they face a Kansas City defense that ranks just 31st in first down rate allowed at 40.75%, only ahead of the New England Patriots. They have not been nearly the same unit since losing safety Eric Berry for the season week 1 and now outside linebacker Justin Houston is dealing with a knee injury that could have him at less than 100% this week.
The Chiefs offense is what’s been winning them games, as they rank 2nd in first down rate, so the Broncos’ defense will have their hands full, but they should be able to slow them down considerably, even with right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and center Mitch Morse likely to return. They should also be able to establish their running game and make life easier for quarterback Trevor Siemian, who has been struggling mightily since losing Sanders midway through the loss to the Giants. This line is way off at 7.5, as the Chiefs are at best 1-1.5 points better than the Broncos right now. I have this line at Kansas City -3.5, so I like the Broncos enough to make them my Pick of the Week in a 13-game week.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Denver Broncos 20
Pick against the spread: Denver +7.5
Confidence: Pick of the Week