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NFL Sunday Night Football presents bettors with one of the most anticipated matchups of the year as the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs (9-0, 4-0 away) travel to take on Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (8-1, 5-0 home). The Broncos enter this game on the heels of a 28-20 win on the road against divisional foe San Diego and the Chiefs defense helped them score a 23-13 win over Buffalo when last seen.
This is an interesting line as the Broncos (5-4 ATS) are favored by 8 points. The game could dictate who wins the AFC West. The public seems to think the number is too high as they are behind Kansas City to the tune of 63% at sportsbook.com.
The OVER/UNDER for this game opened at 51, but is currently floating between 49 and 50 depending on your sportsbook of choice. The total has gone OVER in 9 of Denver's last 10 games. The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Kansas City's last 9 games. Playing at Mile High Stadium has been tricky for the Chiefs in the past. Denver is 10-2 SU in its last 12 games when playing at home against Kansas City.
Broncos CB Champ Bailey has been upgraded to questionable and could play for just the third time this year. Peyton Manning (right ankle) has been limited in practice, but interim coach Jack Del Rio says the NFL's leading QB will "definitely" play against the Chiefs. Kansas City WR Dwayne Boye will play despite an arrest for marijuana possession.
Peyton Manning has been a Hall of Fame type of QB for a long time, but the numbers he continues to put up are simply remarkable. The season he is having in 2013 is on par with the best of his career when he had 49 TD passes in 2004 and could end up being even better. Manning ranks first in the NFL for TD passes and passing yards and his 121 Passer Rating is also the highest in the NFL. He has many options in terms of who to target, but Demaryius Thomas (793 YDs, 9 TDs) , Eric Decker (721 YDs, 3 TDs), Wes Welker (576 YDs, 9 TDs) and Julius Thomas (547 YDs, 9 TDs) get the most attention. Knowshon Moreno (521 YDs, 8 TDs) keys a running game that can get the job done when Peyton isn't dropping back to pass.
Denver's defense is bad against the pass and ranks 30th in the NFL, giving up 287.9 YPG. The secondary makes up for it by giving up only 87 YPG, which is good for 4th best in the NFL. If Bailey can play that will be a plus for this team.
Kansas City will look to Jamaal Charles (725 YDs, 6 TDs) and the running game to get things going on offense. The Chiefs haven't forgotten that the run sets up the pass. They have moved the chains for a first down 57 times this year, while their opponents have only done so 45 times. QB Alex Smith (1,919 TDs) is a capable passer and has hit seven different targets to find the end zone this year. He doesn't really have a star receiver, but does have five or six guys ready to get the job done on any play.
The Chiefs defense is 6th in the NFL against the pass, allowing 208.3 YPG. They rank 24th against the run, giving up 118.6 YPG.
The style of play couldn't be any different between these two teams. Kansas City has allowed no more than 17 points all year long and they have held 3 opponents to less than 10 points. On the other hand, Denver has put up 30+ points in all except for one game. They have scored 40+ points in five games.
We certainly understand the line on this game. This should be the Broncos best effort to date. A home game with a prolific offense against a team that doesn't figure to be able to go toe to toe in a shootout type of a game. The feeling here is that the most likely scenario for this game is a big Bronco win. Followed by a rematch in Kansas City on December 1st, in which we're likely to see the Chiefs pay the Broncos back. Even last years version of the Chiefs was able to make the game in KC a defensive battle, losing 17-9 while losing in Denver 38-3.
That being said, the numbers still point towards the Chiefs here. Anytime you have an underdog capable of a straight up win, it makes them a "live dog". KC is certainly capable, not having lost a game yet. All of the numbers we like to use to handicap a game, including our NFL model, suggest this one goes down to the wire. So we'll make a recommendation here on the Chiefs. But our real interest is in the rematch in a couple of weeks, should this one not go KC's way. Especially if they lose big. Chiefs +8
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