Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs
Start Time: Sunday, 21:25
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2
Form is temporary, class is permanent, is the saying. And both these teams are proof as to the former. Especially the Kansas City Chiefs. Just a few weeks ago, they were unbeaten and in possession of the league's number one defense. But now they stand just second in their division at (9-2) and do so with a whole host of question marks hanging over their defense's sudden and rapid decline.
Kansas' 27-17 defeat in Denver was understandable. But the subsequent loss at home to the at-the-time (5-5) San Diego Chargers, was not. For the Chiefs to concede 41 points inside Arrowhead Stadium, represented a shock of seismic proportions for a team who, up until Week 11, hadn't conceded more than 17 points to anyone.
Kansas did lose two of their top pass-rushers to injury during the game. But don't be fooled, Kansas were already giving-up easy yards by the bucket-load to the Chargers before Tamba Hali and Justin Houston stepped out of the game. Their departures merely accelerated their team's decline. But with Houston definitely out, and Hali still struggling, it doesn't look good for the Chief's heading into this weekend.
Denver of course have their own concerns, having given up 34 points, and a 24 point lead, to lose to New England last week. Their biggest worry will be the shaky form, both physically and artistically, over the last couple of weeks, of Peyton Manning. He was limited to just 150 yards on Sunday. And while some will offer the presence of a strong wind as an excuse, that same wind didn't seem to trouble Tom Brady too much, as he threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns.
It's worth noting that the two games that Denver have lost this season, have also been the only two games where Manning's percentage of completions has dropped below 60. In other words, when Manning fails, so too do Denver. And the truth is, Peyton has not looked fully fit for at least the last couple of weeks. But the Broncos' injury concerns don't stop there, with the absence of two key members of their defensive-line also likely to make life much easier for Jamaal Charles and the Kansas running game.
For me though, the key piece of information relating to this game is the fact that away from home, Denver appear far less formidable. Their record reads 3-2, and on average they've outscored their opponents by just four points! By comparison, Kansas are (5-1) at home, outscoring their opponents by an average of nine points.
Accounting for home advantage, and considering that Kansas lost to the Broncos by 10 points on the road, then it's hard to make a case for Denver winning by more than a field goal. In fact, it's hard to make a strong case for them even winning.
I can see Kansas focusing on the run this time. It's what they do best. And especially with Denver's defensive line a little banged-up. At the very worst for Kansas, this game should be close. And if the Broncos find themselves in front at some stage, expect to see them running-down the clock at every opportunity. All of this suggest a lower scoring game than we've seen in the bulk of Denver's matches so far. soAnd this is probably where the greatest value lies.
Also though, any kind of head-start for Kansas must represent extremely good value. I'd make the Chiefs even money, at worst, to win this game. And I'd make the odds on them losing by several points, pretty big. So in those circumstances, the Chiefs getting a field goal is a fantastic bet.
Kansas (+4.5) to win @ 2.1511/10
Back total points less than 47.5 @ 2.01/1
Back Jamaal Charles rushing yards to be more than 79.5 @ 1.865/6 or better
Back Peyton Manning passing yards to be under 320.5 @ 1.9110/11 or better