Chiefs vs. Broncos Week 15 odds: Is Patrick Mahomes a safe bet?

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 08: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes a pass against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 08: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs makes a pass against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

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Broncos at Chiefs Betting Odds

  • Odds: Chiefs -10
  • Over/Under: 46.5
  • Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET
  • TV Channel: CBS

The Chiefs host the Broncos on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium and bettors are essentially split on this total. The Chiefs have gone under their projected total in their past three games and 53% of bettors have taken the under in this game as of Thursday. Should you follow the public here?

Our experts preview this divisional contest featuring analysis of the key matchup, projected odds and a pick.

Broncos-Chiefs Injury Report

Which team is healthier? Chiefs

Patrick Mahomes suffered a hand injury against the Patriots last week, but it doesn’t appear too bothersome as he’s practiced in full this week. Damien Williams (ribs) has returned to limited practice and could be on track to suit up this week against the Broncos.

Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and Rashad Fenton (hamstring), along with defensive lineman Frank Clark (illness/shoulder) all haven’t practiced this week, but the Chiefs said Clark has a chance to play.

Noah Fant (foot) was knocked out early last week, but he was able to return to a limited practice on Thursday after sitting out on Wednesday. Defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones (ankle) has been absent from practice, and his potential absence would be good news for the Chiefs since he grades out as Denver’s second-best pass-rusher among interior linemen, per Pro Football Focus.

Offensive lineman Ron Leary (concussion) remains in the concussion protocol at the time of writing. He’s struggled in run blocking this season, but he’s been an excellent pass-blocker. The Broncos would prefer to have him back since Austin Schlottmann hasn’t fared well as his fill-in. — Justin Bailey

Note: Info as of Thursday. See our Injury Report for daily practice participation and game statuses up until kickoff.

Biggest Mismatch

Broncos Rush Offense vs. Chiefs Rush Defense

The Broncos have lost eight in a row to the Chiefs. Yes, eight in a row against a division rival — a streak that started when Peyton Manning was still under center for Denver back in 2015.

How can the Broncos end that streak in Arrowhead with a rookie quarterback?

Well, there is a path. They can potentially control the clock by churning yards on the ground against a very poor Chiefs rush defense that ranks 30th against the run (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA).

If Devonta Freeman and Philip Lindsay can get going, it will likely take pressure off Drew Lock keep the crowd subdued and set up the deep shots to Courtland Sutton and the receiving corps. Steve Spagnuolo’s defense in Kansas City has improved significantly against the pass throughout the season and now ranks sixth in DVOA against the pass, but they’re still extremely vulnerable against the run.

And if the Broncos start crushing K.C. on the ground, the safeties will start to creep up and it should open up some things in the passing game. Also, staying ahead of the sticks will be extremely important for Lock against a secondary that is playing at a much higher level than the Texans — his first road opponent.

If the Broncos get enough on the ground and from Lock, they can keep this closer than many might think. — Stuckey

Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds

  • Projected Spread: Chiefs -9.5
  • Projected Total: 46

Mahomes is expected to be fine after injuring his hand last week, but we do need to monitor his status before playing this spread or total.

However, this is the perfect matchup to focus on in-game betting.

We’ll have a better sense of how Mahomes’ hand feels after a drive or two. And Andy Reid admitted to operating a more conservative offense after Mahomes suffered the injury, so if they march down the field with a short-passing, run-heavy offense to score in either of their first two possessions, I’ll come in on the under.

The Broncos are a run-heavy team and should have success against Kansas City’s run funnel defense. However, once they start trailing and are forced into a more pass-heavy game plan, the Broncos will be forced to attack the strength of the Chiefs, who have improved against the pass under Spagnuolo.

Kansas City now ranks sixth in Football Outsiders’ pass defense and would be a much stiffer test than what Lock saw against the Texans. I’m looking to bet the live under as a result. Sean Koerner

PRO System Match

Since 2003, the under is 835-740-29 (53.0%) in division games. Unders have been a smart play in division games as increased familiarity between teams creates a lower-scoring environment.

It may seem obvious to some bettors, but it has been more profitable to take the under in division games with high totals (more than 44 points). It’s just easier for unders to cash when more points are expected to be scored.

Following this Pro System, bettors have gone 189-113-3 (62.6%) since 2003. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $6,658 following this strategy.

Unders are 35-21-1 (62%) in the Reid era at Arrowhead. With the Chiefs at home in a division matchup, this under trend is likely to continue. John Ewing

Expert Pick

Matthew Freedman: Under 46.5

Whenever the Chiefs are home, I almost always automatically bet the under.

That might seem counterintuitive: If the team with one of the best offenses in the league is at home, shouldn’t we expect that team to score more points than usual? And wouldn’t that drive the game to the over?

With the Chiefs, that historically hasn’t been the case.

Under Reid (since 2013), the Chiefs have actually scored 2.9 fewer points at home than on the road. That’s easily the most negative home/away offensive scoring differential in the league.

In fact, Chiefs games have an NFL-worst home/away total differential of -7.9 points. In Kansas City, NFL games rank No. 23 with a mediocre 43.6 points. On the road, Chiefs games blow out with a league-high 51.4 points.

Arrowhead is a tough place to score, for both the home and visiting teams.

In the Reid era, no home team has made under bettors more money than the Chiefs have with their 35-21-1 under record (including playoffs, 21.7% ROI).

Freedman is 508-383-21 (57%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.