NFL Betting Preview: Broncos vs. Chiefs

gettyimages-488046416Kansas City Chiefs Quarterback Alex Smith will try to take his team to the endzone time and again and get a solid win over the Denver Broncos to get first-place in the AFC West on Thursday night. They will vie for early control of the AFC West in the Week 2 opener of the Thursday Night Football game that will happen at Arrowhead Stadium.

In the recent past the Broncos’ offense and the Chiefs’ defense have been their strengths, but strangely enough it’s Kansas City’s inexplicable offensive surge and Denver’s hair-pulling and eye-brow raising game in Week 1 has flipped the scripts so far this season.

The Chiefs will look for a 2-0 record and first-place in the division. They are three-point home favorites coming after a spectacular 27-20 road victory over a tough Houston defense. Kansas City kicked off their season with a huge 27-9 lead over the Texan team by halftime thanks mostly due to QB Smith’s three touchdown passes and tight end Travis Kelce’s 106 receiving yards and two scores. It was an offensive surge that surprised both squads.

In the second half, Houston was able to get back into the game, but K.C.’s defense and pass rush was on point and unstoppable in the first 30 minutes. The Chiefs got five sacks, four quarterback hits, with Allen Bailey leading the team with two sacks and two hits.

“We’re more balanced,” said Smith, who was 22 for 33 for 243 yards. “I think we have a lot of weapons, a lot of guys who can do multiple things so I think that presents a lot of different problems for defenses.”

Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning had a tough time of it in Week 1. Drawing a difficult opening opponent in Baltimore, he couldn’t convert a single offensive touchdown. He went 24-for-40 for 175 yards and one interception. Overall, Denver got only 219 total yards. Last season, there were only two games in which Manning was held without a touchdown pass, and both games happened a lot later in the season when he had thigh injury issues.

So Manning was under heavy pressure throughout the game, his offensive line allowed four sacks and five hits on him. When you compare it to last season, the Broncos were best in the NFL in defending their QB, allowing only 17 sacks total all season. His line didn’t generate a strong-rushing game, the kind head coach Gary Kubiak’s likes to scheme. Denver averaged only 2.8 yards per rush and Ronnie Hillman led the team with 41 yards on 12 carries.

“Everybody’s looking for these summaries of our offense and our team after Week 1. I just don’t think you’re able to do that,” Manning said. “We’re a work in progress.”

Luckily, the Broncos defense has looked better than its offense. And they relied on it, their kicking game earned them a hard won 19-13 home win over Baltimore.

This game could go either way very easily. Kansas City has the kind of defense that can create a big hole early on. They have also shown some vulnerability to comebacks. On the other side, Denver is a young in transition team, with new offense under Gary Kubiak that might not have the playbook mastered.

The Over/Under is set at 42 points. Historically, Denver has won the last six meetings with Kansas City. But with that impressive road victory over the Houston Texans, the Chiefs may have the Broncos right where they want them.

Our Prediction: Kansas City over Denver, 28-14