Kansas City Chiefs (5-1) at Denver Broncos (2-3)
The Broncos just got their second win of the season last week, but they’re a lot better than their record suggests, as they’ve faced one of the toughest schedules in the league thus far. The Broncos did get to play the Jets, but they beat them pretty easily and they’ve also played the Buccaneers, Steelers, Titans, and Patriots and have lost by more than one score just once. They benefited from the Patriots not having a lot of practice time and missing key players on the offensive line, but that was still an impressive win last week in New England. The Broncos’ offense has struggled, but head coach Vic Fangio has once again coached up a defense that is outplaying expectations (1st in first down rate allowed at 30.86%) and, when adjusted for schedule, the Broncos rank 14th with a +1.62% first down rate differential.
The Broncos have done that despite significant injury problems and they are starting to get healthy. Starting quarterback Drew Lock has thrown just 37.3% of the team’s pass attempts this season, with bottom of the roster caliber quarterbacks playing in his absence, and Lock will also get a trio of weapons back this week that he didn’t have last week in wide receiver KJ Hamler, tight end Noah Fant, and running back Melvin Gordon. Even their defense is getting reinforcements with top outside cornerback AJ Bouye and starting defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones both set to return this week. Even if their defense can’t continue to outperform its talent likely significantly, the Broncos’ offense should improve enough to compensate.
The Broncos schedule doesn’t get any easier with the Chiefs coming to town, but they should be able to play the Chiefs close like they have most of their tough opponents this season, especially since the Chiefs are heading in the opposite direction injury wise. Already without starting wide receiver Sammy Watkins and starting guard Kelechi Osemele last week, the Chiefs will be without their top offensive lineman Mitchell Schwartz this week. The Chiefs should still win this game, but this line is way too high at 8. Even going against Pat Mahomes, the Broncos should be a safe bet this week.
Kansas City Chiefs 24 Denver Broncos 20
Pick against the spread: Denver +8