Oct 23, 2018
Oct 23, 2018

NFL Week 8 preview: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs in transition

Analysing the Denver Broncos

Key statistics in finding value

NFL Week 8 preview: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs

The Denver Broncos travel to Kansas to take on the Chiefs in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 8 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 8 predictions.

Kansas City in transition

The 6-1, current top seeds in the AFC, the Kansas City Chiefs put down a marker in their conference in week six when they went into Foxborough and narrowly lost a wild 83 points shootout to the New England Patriots by a field goal as time expired.

As the season approaches halfway, they will now be looking for another win over Denver to effectively knock their AFC West rivals out of the post season hunt and turn the division into a two-horse race between themselves and the 5-2 LA Chargers.

The Alex Smith era effectively ended in Kansas City when the Chiefs traded up to 10th spot in the 2017 draft to select Patrick Mahomes.

Smith had taken the Chiefs to the post season in four out of his five seasons as their starting quarterback, passing with above average efficiency, but failing on all but one occasion to turn regular season wins into post season progression.

Mahomes sat out all but a week 17 trip to Denver in 2017, as Smith again took the Chiefs to the post season, before bowing out in typically narrow fashion to the Titans.

Smith was then traded and 2018 began with Mahomes announced as the starting passer.

Such a transition often leads to a couple of steps back, in expectation of greater riches a couple of seasons down the road, but the 2018 Chiefs’ offence has lit up the scoreboard as they swept away all bar the Patriots.

Smith’s 2017 KC was an offence that excelled through the air and on the ground, yielding four more points per game than their opponents conceded, on average. But Mahomes has elevated the passing game to another level, particularly with his deep threat.

Smith’s passing efficiency averaged a yard per pass further than typically allowed by his opponents, but Mahomes has stretched that to nearly two full yards per attempt, while being similarly well supported by the ground game.

Kansas City Chiefs put down a marker in their conference in week six when they went into Foxborough and narrowly lost a wild 83 points shootout to the New England Patriots.

Overall the 2018 vintage Chiefs is outscoring the average points per game conceded by their opponents by a staggering 12 points per game.

Defensively, there’s little improvement from 2017, when the Chiefs were amongst the worst rushing defences in the NFL, coupled with a below par passing defence. Although, much like their main AFC rivals, the Patriots, their poor efficiency figures were rarely fully punished by the concession of a slew of points.

Analysing the Denver Broncos

Denver also ended 2017 with quarterback as their biggest issue, in a league dominated by passers, rather than by the defensive side of the ball at which the Broncos have excelled.

Three different passers had taken snaps following Peyton Manning’s rapid 2015 injury related decline, but none had even threatened to surpass back up level returns and so in 2018 they signed Minnesota’s Case Keenum.

Keenum entered the league in 2012 as an undrafted free agent, bounced around between Houston, St Louis, who then moved to LA, with limited success, often contesting with others for the starting role, before enjoying his most productive season in 2017 in Minnesota.

He threw for half a yard further than par for the opposition in the Vikings’ regular season, helping them to outscore the opposition by two points per game compared to their rival’s usual concession rates, but reverted to his less impressive, pre-2017 performance levels in the post season.

He’s not quite maintained these levels as Denver’s starting passer in 2018, barely climbing above par for passing efficiency once the level of the opposition has been accounted for.

Nevertheless, this is still a big improvement on Denver’s, post Manning struggles in the aerial game and a very good running game has pushed them just inside the top dozen NFL offences.

They score a point more per game than the defences they’ve faced usually allow, again an improvement on 2017, but still well behind what has become common place for their hosts on Sunday.

Defensively, the Broncos are no longer the elite, league best, unit of 2015, particularly against the run. But they do still retain a pass defence that ranks highly enough to prevent the defence from falling into the bottom half of the NFL pecking order.

Key statistics in finding value

Sunday’s game is a rematch of the week four meeting in Denver, when Kansas City overcame a ten point, 4th quarter deficit to win by three.

The Chiefs were restricted to fewer than 30 points in that game, it was the only time that Mahomes hasn’t passed for seven yards or more per attempt and it will be the third time that Denver has faced the young passer in the last nine regular season matches.

Overall the 2018 vintage Chiefs is outscoring the average points per game conceded by their opponents by a staggering 12 points per game.

We should still expect a game dominated by offence. KC will only be partly slowed down by Denver’s above average passing defence & Denver’s more lukewarm aerial attack will face a much less potent Chief’s defence.

These matchups favour the hosts by nine points, which is likely to be where the line is set, with the total reaching the mid to lower 50’s. But the Broncos are one of the few sides who have slowed down Mahomes’ surge to the top of the passing charts and they are tentatively taken to stay within the spread.

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