Betting Preview: Kansas City vs. Denver

It hasn’t happened often this year, but the Denver Broncos aren’t one of the highest totals in the NFL this week. You can thank the Kansas City Chiefs for that. Tonight is the Broncos first of two meetings with a Chiefs defense that has dominated opponents en route to a 9-0 start, the only undefeated team left in the NFL. Denver is favored by eight points, but there are some red flags in this game. Peyton Manning injured both ankles a few weeks back, then aggravated his right ankle sprain in last week’s victory over San Diego. He will play on Sunday despite being limited in practice this week.

Manning hasn’t had to deal with a pass rush like the one employed by the Chiefs. Linebackers Justin Houston (11 sacks) and Tamba Hali (nine) lead a Kansas City defense that is allowing a only 11.3 points per game while ranking first in the NFL in turnover differential at plus 15. Manning is the best a picking apart opposing secondaries, but he and his ankles could be in serious trouble against a blitz-happy Kansas City attack.

Bettors have loved betting the Over in Broncos’ games this season, but this week we have seen a change in direction. Early action was on the under. The game opened 51, the lowest total on a Broncos game since the third week in the season. That number moved quickly down to 49 where it has settled in so far.

The unbeaten Chiefs will have their hands full tonight. Before last week’s bye, Kansas City improved to 6-3 against the spread with a 10-point win at Buffalo, while Denver held on for a 28-20 win at San Diego. Andy Reid had been 13-0 in post-bye games until he lost last year’s Philadelphia collapse. He has been an underdog just once this season, winning 26-13 against the Eagles in week three as three point underdogs. After facing five quarterbacks’s in row who were backups in training camp, the Chiefs D will get a true test against Denver’s offense, averaging 41.2 ppg. Denver has 26 TDs on 56 drives at home this year. No one has scored more than 17 points on Chiefs this year; can their edge rushers get to an immobile QB?

Denver is 4-1 as home favorites this year; its only loss against the spread at home this year was when they laid 27 to Jaguars and won by 16. Kansas City has scored a total of 32 points in last five series games; they’ve split last four visits here, after losing previous eight visits to Denver. Divisional home favorites of 5+ points are 10-6 vs spread so far this season. Eight of nine Denver games went over total; seven of nine Chief games stayed under.

My play: Under 49.