Kansas City Chiefs (11-5, 8-8 ATS) at Denver Broncos (7-9, 7-9), 4:30 p.m., Saturday
Brolley’s Chiefs Stats and Trends
Kansas City can lock up the #2 seed with a victory on Saturday and they can jump into the top seed with a win and a Titans loss on Sunday.
The Chiefs beat the Broncos 22-9 as 8.5-point home favorites in a game totaled at 46.5 points in early December.
Kansas City is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games.
The Chiefs have played over the total in four straight games.
Patrick Mahomes has reeled off four straight performances with 20+ FP, which is his best stretch of play since he opened the year with 21+ FP in six straight contests. He’s averaging 8.7 YPA in four games in Weeks 14-17 after averaging 6.3 YPA in six contests in Weeks 7-13. Mahomes completed just 15/29 passes for 184 scoreless yards and one INT when he met the Broncos back in early December.
Tyreek Hill has finished with fewer than 12 FP in four of his last five games, including a 2/22 receiving performance against the Broncos back in Week 13. He’s also seen five or fewer targets in three of his last five contests. Denver is giving up the eighth-fewest FPG (32.1) to WRs this season.
Travis Kelce returned to the lineup after missing Week 16 with COVID, and he luckily found the end zone as he finished with 5/25/1 receiving on seven targets. He’s now finished with fewer than 30 receiving yards in three of his last four games, but his one outlier game in that span was his 10/191/2 receiving outburst against the Chargers. Kelce managed just 3/27 receiving on eight targets against the Broncos back in Week 13.
Darrel Williams stepped into Clyde Edwards-Helaire’s spot in the lineup in Week 17 and he delivered 14/88/2 rushing and 3/19 receiving. He’s now delivered 17+ FP in four of his six games with CEH out of the lineup. Darrel posted 3/60 receiving and 5/20 rushing against the Broncos in Week 13 even with CEH in the lineup.
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
The Broncos are 1-4 ATS in their last five games.
Denver is 8-2 toward unders in its last 10 games.
Denver’s offense was nothing special with Teddy Bridgewater leading the group, but their rushing attack has vanished the last two weeks since Drew Lock took over the offense. Javonte Williams has managed just 21/42/1 rushing (2.0 YPC) and 3/10 receiving in the last two contests while Melvin Gordon hasn’t been much better with 17/39 rushing (2.3 YPC) and 4/33 receiving. Both Javonte (knee) and Melvin (hip, thumb) have been gutting it out through injuries the last couple of weeks and it wouldn’t be surprising if one or both of them is shut down now that the Broncos are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Mike Boone would be slated for a role against the Chiefs if either Javonte and/or Melvin sit out this week. Kansas City is giving up 4.5 YPC and the fifth-most receptions per game (6.5) to RBs this season.
Drew Lock is coming off a 15.9 FP performance against the Chargers in Week 17, completing 18/25 passes for 245 yards and one TD. Lock threw for two TDs and four INTs while averaging 202.5 passing yards per game and 6.0 YPA in two matchups with the Chiefs last season.
Courtland Sutton has shown some faint signs of life since Lock took over at quarterback, posting 7/93 receiving on 10 targets over the last two weeks. He previously had fallen below three catches in seven straight games in Weeks 8-15, including when he posted 2/15 receiving on six targets against the Chiefs in Week 13. Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick missed last week with COVID. Jeudy posted 4/77 receiving on six targets and Patrick mustered just a nine-yard catch on five targets against the Chiefs.
Noah Fant is coming off his second-best fantasy performance of the season with 6/92/1 receiving for 21.2 FP against the Chargers. Fant failed to reach 11+ FP in eight straight games in Weeks 7-16 before his outburst last week with Jeudy and Patrick out of the lineup. Fant caught all four of his targets for 33 yards when these teams met in early December.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 29.9 (26th)
Plays per game: 63.7 (15th)
Pass: 60.1% (19th) | Run: 39.9% (14th)
Pace: 30 (27th)
Plays per game: 59.7 (29th)
Pass: 54.1% (27th) | Run: 45.9% (6th)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
With a win and a Titans loss, the Chiefs will be the No. 1 seed in the AFC and get a first round bye. So, Kansas City will be full-go here and in a fantastic spot as the spread has crept their way all week. It opened as KC -10 and is up to -11.5 (as of Thursday afternoon). While the pace in this game is bad – it’s the fourth-slowest matchup of the week – the Chiefs are still expected to put up a ton of points here. Their team total (28.25) is the third-highest of the week behind only the Colts (29.75) and Bills (29).
The spot is made even better since Denver will be down three starters in the secondary as CB Ronald Darby, CB Patrick Surtain, and SS Kareem Jackson will all miss this game. Patrick Mahomes has been unconscious as of late and he’s completed 73.5% of his throws for 8.7 YPA, he has 10 TDs to just 1 INT, and is averaging 296.3 yards per game over the last four weeks. The Broncos' drawing dead combined with their missing pieces defensively makes this a near perfect spot for the Chiefs to take a pass-heavy plan and roll into the postseason.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
When these teams met on December 5, KC RBs accounted for 62% of the total yardage. At the time of this writing, Clyde Edwards-Helaire has yet to practice. But KC has mentioned that CEH will have a chance to play.
The expectation is for Darrel Williams being featured, once again. He took on 82% of the RB carries last week. If he does, the significant bump in pricing this week for Williams will render both as fadable. If CEH sits, Williams’ receiving ability will aid him toward claiming the 44.3% of the total FPG the Broncos have allotted to RBs through the air. Williams has manufactured 1.002 FPs/opportunity this season (fourth-most among qualified RBs).
With Drew Lock under center, nobody in the Denver offense interests me. In the last two games with Lock under center, Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III have rushed for 82 yards on 39 carries (2.1 YPC). From my count, At least 93% of that yardage had to be earned after contact. The opposition is well aware that Lock is not an NFL caliber QB. Defenses are loading up the box and forcing Lock to beat them over the top.
Dolan’s Vantage Points
Chiefs coach Andy Reid is a militant starter rester, but he does not have such a luxury this week against the Broncos, as the Chiefs are still in the mix for the AFC’s #1 seed. With a win and a Titans loss to the Texans (however unlikely that may be), the AFC playoffs will go through Arrowhead.
It doesn’t look like Clyde Edwards-Helaire (shoulder) can play — it’s possible the Chiefs wanted CEH to get his feet wet for the playoffs and will continue to roll with Darrel Williams, but he was unable to practice this week.
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire most likely will be ruled out by Chiefs for Saturday's game at Denver, no surprise since he didn't practice for a second straight week— Adam Teicher (@adamteicher) January 6, 2022
Still, unlike in recent years, if you’re playing fantasy in the final week of the regular season, you have your Chiefs at your disposal, which didn’t happen last year. And the passing game has a glorious matchup to boot.
Vic rules out CB Pat Surtain II and CB Ronald Darby for Saturday's finale. #Broncos
— Ryan O'Halloran (@ryanohalloran) January 6, 2022
Meanwhile, Bronco coach Vic Fangio is singing the typical platitudes that coaches for eliminated teams typically sing.
Vic Fangio believes Broncos are "on the cusp" of being team they want to be. https://t.co/o8GWyLxS9F— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 4, 2022
The Broncos obviously are going to try to make a splash at QB this off-season, while Drew Lock will start this week in his attempt to put some decent tape out there. He should get WRs Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick back from the COVID list this week.
Broncos RB Melvin Gordon has had a strong season and wants to be back next year, but he’s entering free agency and it’s possible Denver decides to hand the keys in the backfield to Javonte Williams this off-season.
Melvin Gordon: "If it's my last game in the Broncos' stadium, I want to make it a great one."— Aric DiLalla (@AricDiLalla) January 3, 2022
Said he doesn't know what his future will be. Has spoken several times this year about his desire to return.