Week 8 Monday Night Football Preview: Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs Betting Advice
It’s an AFC West matchup extraordinaire in this Week 8 edition of Monday Night Football, with the Denver Broncos traveling east, crossing the plains of Kansas on I-70 to arrive in Kansas City, Missouri and take on the Chiefs.
Last season, the AFC West was unquestionably the best division in football. The West was one of only two divisions in football (along with the NFC East) that could have easily featured three teams in the postseason:
- The Dallas Cowboys won the NFC East with a record of 13–3 and earned the #1 overall seed in the NFC, meanwhile, the Giants nabbed the first Wild Card spot with a record of 11–5. The Redskins were one Week 17 win away from taking the second Wild Card spot from the Lions.
- The Kansas City Chiefs won the AFC West with a record of 12–4 and earned the #2 seed overall in the AFC, meanwhile, the Raiders nabbed the first Wild Card spot also with a record of 12–4. The Broncos were serious contenders ‘til the end to take the second Wild Card spot.
But if we know anything about the National Football League, it’s that it’s very difficult to stay competitive year after year. This is why every season we see roughly 30-50% turnover amongst the playoff teams.
And this season is no exception: we’ve already seen multiple divisions turned completely on their heads.
In the NFC South, the Panthers and Saints look to be leading the race despite the fact that it was the Falcons and the Buccaneers that looked to be the teams to beat last year. In the AFC North, the Ravens and the Jaguars seem to have switched places, with the Jags (who were 3–13 last season) looking to have clearly the better defense and more effective offense, somehow.
Meanwhile, the two best divisions in football from a season ago have both showed a lot of vulnerability so far through the first seven games of the 2017/18 season.
In the NFC East, the Cowboys are nowhere near the 13–3 dynamo of last season, and with the Giants injured beyond all recognition and losing their first 5 games of the season, they’re almost guaranteed to miss the playoffs, already. Meanwhile, it’s last year’s 4th-place Eagles that look like the putative division winner and perhaps even the #1 seed in the NFC, with the Redskins challenging for a Wild Card spot.
And in the AFC West, it’s hard to tell just exactly what’s going on at this point in the season:
Starting at the bottom, the Los Angeles Chargers were one of the biggest bandwagon teams of the offseason, with many believing that their offense would be dominant despite moving to a new city with a new head coach. Given the amount of bad luck the team had suffered from turnovers, game management issues, and special teams snafus, there was no way their luck wouldn’t change.
However, the Chargers started out the season 0–4, and only won their first game because they were also playing against the also 0–4 Giants, and it seems to be business as usual.
Next-to-last, the Oakland Raiders took the league by storm last season, winning 12 games after winning only 7 the year before. Derek Carr looked every bit an elite quarterback, the offensive line and receiving corps looked rock solid, and the gutsy decision-making from Jack Del Rio gave the team an edge that really made it seem like they could go the distance and compete in the postseason.
However, the Raiders have looked like a very different team this year, with a rather inexplicable inability to move the ball on offense and a defense that has been exposed these past few weeks.
And now, in this game, the two AFC West teams we’ll see are still figuring things out:
- Who: Denver Broncos (3–3) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (5–2)
- Where: Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City, Missouri
- When: Monday, October 30, 2017. 8:25 PM (EST) on ESPN
The Denver Broncos seemed to be on the cusp of playoff contention all of last year, with a defense that was stout enough to keep them in seemingly every game, but with an offense that struggled to block anyone. Even though the transition from Peyton Manning to Trevor Siemian took its toll, it didn’t seem like the first-year QB was the issue as much as the blocking in the run game.
However, despite starting off this season looking great, the Broncos have lost two in a row and scored a total of 10 points in these two games, and look like their offense hit a brick wall.
The Kansas City Chiefs came out like gangbusters, winning their first 5 games and ending up the last undefeated team standing. Their dynamic offense with Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and newcomer Kareem Hunt seemed downright unstoppable, and they looked like the obvious choice to be the AFC’s Super Bowl representative.
However, despite this incredible start, the Chiefs have also lost their last two games, and it seems like the Steelers have uncovered the blueprint for how to stop the Chiefs’ offense.
Ultimately, this game on Monday night will show us a lot about what these two teams are made of.
And we’ve got you covered with everything you need to know in order to make informed gambling decisions for the following bets:
- Moneyline bets
- Bets against the spread
- The total score over/under bet
- Any prop bets or futures that could hold value
The AFC West was one of the two best divisions in football last season. This year, with the Chargers and Raiders both starting slow, it’s been the Broncos and the Chiefs getting all the attention. With both coming off of two consecutive losses, this AFC West showdown isn’t just for pride or for divisional standing – it’s also a desperate attempt to get back on track. Should be a thriller!
Broncos vs. Chiefs Betting
- Broncos +265
- Chiefs -330
When picking games straight-up for moneyline odds, our philosophy involves looking at the two teams holistically, in order to determine which team will have the mental advantage in the game.
In our experience, whichever team is able to stay mentally tough for the entire 60-minute contest generally ends up winning the game. On the other hand, if a team loses its mental focus, mental errors like dropped passes, penalties, blown coverages, and a whole host of other mistakes start to accumulate. When this happens, the game spirals out of control and ends in a loss.
In this game, we do believe that the Chiefs will get a boost from playing at home in Arrowhead.
The Broncos are known for having a very stout home field advantage – even the air is different at Mile High. But last week, the team laid a goose egg in front of the home fans. For the Chiefs, they also lost their last game at home, but they at least put up 30 points and were ahead on the scoreboard all the way until the clock showed triple zeroes.
Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play, and it’s been especially difficult recently for the Chiefs’ division opponents. The Chiefs have dominated the AFC West for the past two years, and are 12–1 in their last 13 games against division opponents.
Last season, this was the reason why the Chiefs won the division and got the first-round bye while the Raiders got the Wild Card spot despite the fact that both teams had a 12–4 record.
The mechanism of home field advantage is when crowd noise impacts the visiting team’s offense, either by rattling a young, inexperienced quarterback or by creating communication issues on a weak offensive line, which lead to pre-snap penalties and protection issues. When these offensive line issues result in sacks and unfavorable down and distance, the whole flow of the game changes.
With Trevor Siemian and the Broncos’ offensive line looking vulnerable in recent weeks, we believe the crowd noise in Arrowhead could certainly impact their play.
In addition to home field advantage, we also believe that the Chiefs have an advantage when you look at the difference in season-level momentum for these two teams.
The Kansas City Chiefs started out this season as the hottest team in football, and then they were beaten soundly by a team that has had their number over the past few seasons – the Pittsburgh Steelers. During a stretch of games in which the Chiefs were 17–3 against the entire National Football League, they were somehow 0–3 (now 0–4 with this year’s game) against Pittsburgh.
And while Oakland did use Pittsburgh’s model on defense, Kansas City still could have won that game.
Opinions rage on both sides about the final drive of the Chiefs/Raiders game on Thursday Night Football last week, and specifically about the fact that the Raiders had multiple untimed downs at the end of the game. But no matter what you think, the fact remains that Kansas City was ahead for most of the game, and still only ended up losing by 1 point.
Meanwhile, for the Broncos, their last two losses tell a much different story, as the team has put up a combined 10 points of offense, and allowed an average of 22 points on defense, against bad teams.
When the Chiefs look back at their two-game skid during the 11-day interim between a Thursday Night Football game and a Monday Night Football game, they’re not going to panic. They know that they were competitive in both games, and they undoubtedly feel like if they could just have a few plays back in both games (especially the Raiders game), they would still be undefeated going into Week 8.
This same optimism could not be shared by the Broncos, who have to admit to some serious issues.
When the Giants came into Denver in Week 6, they had lost five consecutive games and had just lost their two highest-paid receivers for the season. There was absolutely no reason for the Giants to beat the Broncos, yet they did. The following week, they lost by 17 to the Seahawks, a team which plays a very similar style and has very similar troubles as the Broncos.
And if Denver was going to chalk this up to a fluke, then they would have had to come out against their division rival the Los Angeles Chargers the following week and turn things around. Instead, the team suffered a shutout on offense for the first time since November of 1992.
Naturally, the Broncos will be motivated to avoid a three-game losing streak. But that counts for nothing in this game, because the home team is also on a two-game skid.
Ultimately, the mental advantage in this game definitely goes to the Chiefs. Not only will they carry significantly more confidence out of their last two losses, and not only are they coming off of 10 days’ rest, and not only are they playing at home — they also have the leadership necessary to stand fast.
Andy Reid and Alex Smith have been together through thick and thin: They’re not panicking. First-year head coach Vance Joseph and second-year starter Trevor Siemian could very well be panicking; it’s hard to say which of these two men is more afraid of the idea of Brock Osweiler taking over at quarterback.
Pick: Chiefs to win
- Broncos +7.5 (-115)
- Chiefs -7.5 (-105)
Now that we’ve established our pick for the Kansas City Chiefs to win this game because of their increased confidence, superior coaching, and home field advantage, let’s now turn our attention to whether we believe that the Chiefs will win by more than 7-and-a-half points.
In picking games against the spread, our philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s offense matches up against the losing team’s defense.
In our experience, when the winning team matches up well on offense against the losing team’s defense, they are generally able to score enough points to both win straight-up and to win against the spread. However, when the losing team is able to generate stops, they will often pull off a backdoor cover.
In this game, the key matchup to watch for is between the Chiefs’ offense and the Broncos’ defense.
For the Chiefs, the story of their offense this season has taken a dramatic turn over the last two weeks. In the first five weeks of the season, the Chiefs were downright unstoppable on offense, and never scored fewer than 24 points or racked up fewer than 300 yards of total offense.
However, everything seemed to change when Pittsburgh came to town.
As we mentioned above, for some reason it has seemed over the last few seasons that no one matches up better against the Kansas City offense than the Pittsburgh defense, due to the way that the Steelers play a predominantly zone scheme that is nonetheless extremely well-disciplined, and which features linebackers and safeties that are quick and disciplined enough to quickly make open-field tackles.
Pittsburgh held Kansas City to their lowest point total (13) and lowest yardage total (251), giving the rest of the league a blueprint for how to slow down the KC offense.
In the Chiefs’ next game against the Raiders, Oakland employed this blueprint against the Chiefs, utilizing many more zone looks than they would otherwise. However, it wouldn’t be accurate to say that they used this blueprint effectively. Even though they won the game, they trailed for most of it, and Kansas City still ended up with 30 points and 425 total yards.
The NFL is a copycat league, but we’re not so sure we’ll see Denver try to copy Pittsburgh’s plan.
The Denver Broncos are not a zone-based defense. With probably the best cornerback trio in the league (with Aqib Talib, Bradley Robey, and Chris Harris), the Broncos feel confident that they can match up against any receiving corps in the league in man coverage.
But no matter how well you match up one-on-one, secondary vs. receiving corps, there’s no possible way to run a man coverage scheme without an excellent pass rush.
If you aren’t able to pressure the quarterback, then no matter how good your secondary is, the quarterback will usually have enough time to stand in the pocket until his receivers uncover – with enough time the advantage always goes to the offense.
Alternatively, if the only way you can generate a pass rush is by sending more than three or four of your eleven defenders, then you probably don’t have enough people back in coverage to execute double-teams and to have safeties over the top keeping the quarterback from throwing the ball.
Luckily for Denver, they do have a solid pass rush, which is the reason why they can pull off a man scheme.
Naturally, the Denver pass rush begins and ends with Von Miller, who is unquestionably a generational talent at getting off the line quickly and getting to the quarterback.
But in addition to Miller, who has 7.0 sacks already this season (top 10 in the league), the Broncos also have gotten strong contributions from Shelby Harris, Derek Wole, and newly-acquired Domata Peko, along with several other members of the front seven.
In this way, with an excellent secondary and a solid pass rush, the Denver defense is uniquely well-suited for a man coverage scheme, and they should stick with it.
Ultimately, we believe the ability of the Kansas City Chiefs to score points on offense will come down in the end to their ability to run the ball.
The Denver defense has given up the fewest total yards in the league so far this season and yet is ranked 9th in the league in scoring. In the last two games, in particular, the defense gave up 23 points to the woeful New York Giants’ offense (with no Odell Beckham Jr. and no Brandon Marshall) and then gave up 21 points to Philip Rivers the following week.
The biggest issue for the Denver defense these past two weeks has actually been the Denver offense.
The Broncos win when they limit mistakes and play complementary football – this is the style they need to play because they don’t have an elite quarterback. With their offense averaging 16 first downs per game over the last three games and notching a total of 26 points in these games, Denver’s defense has been on the field for too long and asked to do too much.
The Broncos have a top-five rushing defense in the league right now, with the 2nd-fewest rushing yards allowed, zero rushing touchdowns allowed, and the 2nd-fewest yards-allowed-per-carry average (at an anemic 3.0). The Chiefs, on the other hand, have the 5th-most rushing yards in the league and the best yards-per-carry average in the league (at 4.7).
We believe that Denver will be able to slow Kansas City’s rushing attack in the early going and limit their scoring in the first half. It’s possible that KC wears them down and runs all over them in the 2nd half, but we think that the Denver offense limits mistakes and this game stays close.
Pick: Chiefs to win by less than 7.5
- Over 43 (-110)
- Under 43 (-110)
Now that we’ve picked this game both straight-up (Chiefs win due to superior coaching and leadership) and against the spread (Broncos do enough on D to keep the game closer than 7.5 points), let’s now turn our attention to the question of whether we believe this game will be generally high- or low-scoring.
When picking games for the total score over/under bet, our philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s defense matches up against the losing team’s offense.
In our experience, when a team is both able to score points on offense and generate stops on defense, they will generally be able to control the flow of the game to such a degree that the game passes by quickly, without enough scoring to push the over. But when the losing team lights up the scoreboard, the game will often turn into a shootout that pushes the total score over.
In this game, the key matchup to watch is between the Chiefs’ defense and the Broncos’ offense.
The biggest question for us when we look at this matchup is how well the Chiefs’ defense is going to play, after having a string of consecutive mediocre performances. We feel pretty confident that the Broncos are going to struggle.
Denver scored 42 points in Week 2 against the Cowboys, and since then they’ve scored 42 points – total – in the following four games combined, three of them losses.
The issues in Denver start with the offensive line. While center Matt Paradis is one of the best in the game, newly-acquired right guard Ronald Leary has been solid, and rookie first-round left tackle Garrett Bolles has held up very well, the left guard position and right tackle position have been huge problem areas, and injuries to starters like Menelik Watson and Donald Stephenson don’t help.
Denver’s O-line is better in run-blocking in pass protection, but recently, when opponents stack the box, Siemian has had no time to throw, so drives end and the defense gets tired out.
And last week, the injuries on the offensive line were complemented by injuries in the receiving corps. Emmanuel Sanders left the game with an ankle injury, leaving Demaryius Thomas matched up against the Chargers #1 corner Casey Hayward (who led the league in interceptions last year) and enabling Los Angeles to double-team Thomas.
After Sanders and Thomas, the receiving corps gets pretty thin in Denver, unlike in the Manning era.
Wideouts Jordan Taylor and Bennie Fowler are not capable of taking on a major role at this point, and even though tight end A. J. Derby is an excellent pass-catcher, the Broncos haven’t been able to utilize him because they’ve needed the better pass-blocker Virgil Green in the game on more snaps due to the need for better protection.
Ultimately, Denver’s ability to move the ball on offense comes down to whether they can get the ground game going, and especially if they can keep it going even against 8-man fronts.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs’ defense has struggled these last few games, and it remains to be seen whether they have what it takes to stop their desperate division rival in the run game.
Everyone wants to know what the problem has been with the Chiefs’ defense over these last two losses. There are multiple factors at play as for what has changed.
Some people have been clamoring for the head of defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, claiming that he is utilizing pass rusher Justin Houston too much in coverage, which is both limiting the pass rush and giving quick receiving targets open looks.
Last week against the Raiders, Justin Houston dropped into coverage on 11 of the 55 dropbacks that he played on. This is roughly 20% of his snaps, meanwhile, elite pass rushers like Von Miller or Khalil Mack will likely be closer to 5%.
So yes, Houston has been in coverage too much, but this isn’t the reason for the Chiefs’ issues on defense. None of Kansas City’s big plays given up have been the fault of Justin Houston in coverage.
Granted, Houston’s coverage percentage has certainly impacted the fact that the Chiefs are not getting enough pass rush. But watching the film against Oakland last week, this had more to do with the Raiders’ offense than it did with the Chiefs’ defense.
Watching the game, it was clear that Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Chris Jones were all getting consistent push on the line. It’s just that Derek Carr was getting the ball out of his hands remarkably quickly, like in two seconds or less, so the push on the line didn’t have time to turn into a pass rush.
In summary, the Chiefs’ defense has had two bad games, but nothing is “wrong” in Kansas City.
This week, we can’t help but believe that the Broncos will throw everything they have at their division rival, so we’re inclined to think that there will be some scoring. We like the Broncos to watch the film from the Steelers game and try to replicate that run-first attack and to have some success.
In a tight divisional game, we like this scoring to push the over.
Pick: Broncos 21, Chiefs 27
Having established our overall prediction for the game – that the Broncos will be unable to win on the road as their confidence is shaken from the last two games, that the Chiefs’ run game will get stymied by the Broncos’ stout front seven, and that the Broncos will be able to revitalize their offense – let’s now see if we can’t profit off of this view of the game by investing in some prop bets.
Specifically, we believe that the following wagers will hold value in this game:
- J. Anderson goes over his posted total for yards. So far this season the Broncos are 0–3 when Anderson gets 10 carries or less, and 3–0 when he gets 20 carries or more. After two bad weeks on offense, the Broncos will look to get their running game going against their division rival.
- The Chiefs to score the longest touchdown. Between wheel routes from Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce running up the seam, and Tyreek Hill on the Jet sweep, the Chiefs have many more ways to beat you for long touchdowns than the Broncos do, with their struggling passing offense.
- Von Miller to go over his posted total for sacks. The Broncos’ star pass rusher is in the top ten in the league so far this season with 7.0 sacks, and the Chiefs are tied for the 5th-worst sacks allowed number (21) in the league so far. We like Miller to get home multiple times in this one.
In addition to the bets above that, we’ll be able to watch unfold live, we would also like to direct your attention to the following future bets:
- The Kansas City Chiefs to win the AFC West. Even after showing some vulnerability in these last two games, the Chiefs have still jumped out to the quickest start this season and still look like the most complete If they pull off a win in this one, their odds only stand to get worse.
- The Denver Broncos to miss the playoffs. If they lose this game, Denver will be at 3–4 going into back-to-back games @Philadelphia and against New England. With road games left against the Raiders and Redskins and another game against the Chiefs, it’ll be tough to get to 10+ wins.
- Andy Reid to win Coach of the Year. More than any other coach in the league so far this season, it’s been apparent that Andy Reid’s offensive scheme and creative play-calling have impacted the Chiefs’ season. Given their sustained success, if they do it again Andy Reid could get the call.
Veteran gamblers know that it’s not enough to just watch the games. When you watch live game film, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for any clues that might tip you off for future bets to be made down the line. Keep an eye out for the bets above, and thank us later.
Summary: Best Bets
The AFC West was one of the best divisions in football last year, but like so many of the divisions in the National Football League in this topsy-turvy 2017/18 season, the West has been flipped on its head this season, with the Chiefs suddenly looking vulnerable, coming off of two straight losses, the Raiders looking like a completely different team, and the Broncos looking like they have zero offense.
In this game, which could very well impact the playoff picture down the line, we like the home team Kansas City Chiefs to take care of business. Even though this should be a close divisional matchup, we foresee the Chiefs making fewer mistakes and capitalizing off of Trevor Siemian’s weakness.
In order to profit off of our prediction for the game, here are our best bets:
- Chiefs -330 moneyline
- Broncos +7.5 against the spread (-115)
- The total score to go over 43 (-110)
- J. Anderson goes over his posted total for yards
- The Chiefs to score the longest touchdown
- Von Miller to go over his posted total for sacks
Last season, the NFC East and the AFC West could have easily each sent three teams to the playoffs. This year, it’s entirely possible that both will only send one. We’ll be watching this Week 8 Monday Night Football matchup very closely, to see what it says about the balance of power in the AFC West, and what this means for the balance of power in the NFL.