With their spot in the playoffs secured, the Kansas City Chiefs will look to push for a first-round bye and earn a sweep of the rival Denver Broncos in Week 15. Kickoff is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 15 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Large sections of the country will be able to watch the game on CBS.
Current odds have the Chiefs favored by 9.5 points at home with an over/under of 45.5 points. Click here to get a full list of the Week 15 NFL odds.
Kansas City officially clinched the AFC West last week with a win over the Patriots, giving them three straight wins. The Chiefs aren’t getting as much praise as they did a year ago after hitting a few roadblocks in the middle of the season. However, they seem to be coming on strong late in the year and still have a chance to match last year’s total of 12 wins.
At 9-4, the Chiefs will host at least one playoff game, but they are also hoping to earn a first-round playoff bye. They remain a game back of New England for the no. 2 seed in the AFC. But thanks to last week’s win over the Patriots, they just need to match New England’s win total. Of course, they’ll need the Patriots to lose at least one game over the final three weeks. However, the chance to earn a bye should help keep the Chiefs motivated over the final three weeks of the season despite already wrapping up the division.
Meanwhile, the Broncos are shockingly still alive for a playoff spot. Denver has won back-to-back games over the Chargers and Texans since switching to rookie Drew Lock at quarterback. Last week’s 38-24 win over the Texans was one of the most surprising results of the season. Lock threw three touchdown passes to help the Broncos take a 38-3 lead before Houston managed to score a few touchdowns in garbage time.
At 5-8, the Broncos have a sliver of hope to reach the playoffs. Mathematically, their chances are at less than 1%, as they need multiple teams ahead of them in the Wild Card race to lose most or all of their remaining games. Nevertheless, knowing they’re still alive heading into Week 15 should make Denver feel a little better about their season.
Of course, Denver’s slim playoff hopes hinge on them winning their three remaining games, starting with this week’s rivalry game against the Chiefs. Kansas City currently has an 8-game winning streak in head-to-head games against the Broncos. In fairness, the Broncos had won seven straight against the Chiefs prior to that. The Chiefs won in Denver 30-6 earlier this year, although both games between the two teams last year were decided by a touchdown or less.
I’m not going to predict an upset in this game, but the Broncos have been masters of the close loss this season, so I feel good about their chances to beat the spread. Five of Denver’s eight losses have been in one-possession games. They’ve also received a spark from Lock the past two weeks. With their playoff hopes still alive and a rivalry game on the table, I’ll take a chance on the Broncos beating the spread in yet another close loss.
Two games may be too soon to leap to any conclusions about Lock, but the initial results have been good. Despite throwing an interception in each of his first two games, Lock has completed 73% of his passes while throwing five touchdown passes. He is also averaging better than eight yards per pass, making the Broncos more of a threat down the field. Equally important, his mobility has also allowed him to be sacked just once in two games behind a Denver offensive line that has been problematic all season.
It’s also worth noting that the Kansas City defense has struggled against the run at various times this season. Denver’s backfield tandem of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman struggled when the faced the Chiefs earlier this year. But they should be thrilled to get a second chance to face the Kansas City defense.
On the other side of the ball, this is a Denver defense than the one the Chiefs faced earlier this season. Denver’s pass rush is finally starting to come alive with three sacks in back-to-back weeks. Remember, the Broncos kept Deshaun Watson and the Texans out of the end zone until late in the third quarter. Facing Watson last week should be good preparation for Patrick Mahomes this week. The Broncos have also seen Mahomes more than any other team and actually fared better against the Kansas City offense last year than most teams.
Obviously, the Chiefs are always a candidate to blow teams out and win by a comfortable margin. However, Kansas City’s been a little less dominant this year, only winning four games by more than a touchdown. Covering 9.5 points in the NFL isn’t easy, even for a team like the Chiefs. With the Broncos looking much better under Lock, I feel safer taking Denver and the points in this rivalry game.