Denver Broncos (3-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
The Broncos are just 3-4 and don’t get a lot of attention because they don’t do any one thing really well, but they’ve quietly been better than their record. They rank above average in both first down rate (14th at 37.25%) and first down rate allowed (7th at 32.89%). They’ve won the first down rate battle in 5 of 7 games, including 3 of their losses. One of those losses was at home to the Chiefs in a game they won the first down rate battle by 4.26%, led by double digits in the 4th quarter, and had a chance to win late on a missed open touchdown. They also won the first down rate battle in losses to the Jets (2.82%) and the Rams (5.56%). On the season, they have 16 more first downs than their opponents.
The Chiefs, despite their record, have 15 fewer first downs than their opponents. Their offense has obviously been incredible, but their defense has allowed opponents to pick up first downs at a high rate (43.15%, 30th in the NFL). They’re coming off their best defensive performance of the year and could end up being a capable unit if they get both Justin Houston and Eric Berry back for the stretch run, which would make them a very scary team, but this week the Broncos could easily keep it close with the Chiefs for the second time this season. Even if the Chiefs get up big early, the Broncos have been a good garbage time team this year and could easily get the backdoor cover against an underwhelming defense. I would need at least 10 points to bet any money on Denver, but they should be the right side this week.
Kansas City Chiefs 31 Denver Broncos 24
Pick against the spread: Denver +9.5