Denver Broncos (6-5, 6-5 ATS) at Kansas City Chiefs (7-4, 4-7), 8:20 p.m.
Brolley’s Broncos Stats and Trends
These teams have played under the total in three of their last four games in this series.
The Broncos have played under the total in five straight games.
Denver is in the thick of the AFC West race by winning outright and ATS in three of their last four games after dropping four consecutive games outright and ATS in Weeks 4-7.
Teddy Bridgewater posted 16.1 FP in Denver’s first game out of their bye last week despite playing just three quarters in their victory over the Chargers because of a lower-leg injury. He completed 11/18 passes for 129 yards and one TD and he added 2/10/1 rushing. Teddy threw for multiple TDs in five of his first seven games, but he’s cooled off since with just three TD passes overall in his last four games. The Chiefs have limited four straight QBs to fewer than 20+ FP, including Dak Prescott’s 5.6 FP performance before their Week 12 bye.
Jerry Jeudy got swallowed up by Chris Harris and the Chargers last week, managing season-lows across the board in targets (3), catches (2), and receiving yards (25). The Chiefs are giving up the third-fewest catches per game (11.2) to WRs, but Hunter Renfrow had some success out of the slot two games ago with 7/46/1 receiving.
Courtland Sutton has yet to score more than six FP and to catch more than two passes in each of his first five games with Jeudy in the lineup. He also ranks sixth on the team with an 11% target share in those contests. Tim Patrick has also cooled off with 5/40 receiving on nine targets over the last two games, and he’s sporting just a 15% target share in games with Jeudy. The Chiefs are giving up the 10th-fewest FPG (33.4) to WRs this season.
Noah Fant is averaging 4.0/33.6 receiving per game with two TDs in seven games with Albert Okwuegbunam in the lineup compared to 5.7/52.0 receiving per game with one TD in three games without Albert O. Dalton Schultz posted 6/53 receiving in this matchup the last time the Chiefs played, and they’re giving up the fifth-most receiving yards per game (63.3) to the position.
Javonte Williams held the edge over Melvin Gordon in snap share (58% to 42%), routes (15 to 7), catches (3 to 1), receiving yards (57 to 5), and touchdowns (1 to 0) coming out of Denver’s bye last week Meanwhile, Gordon held advantages in carries (17 to 14) and rushing yards (83 to 54). Javonte has moved ahead of Gordon in the passing game a bit in recent weeks, which is notable since the Broncos enter as 10-point road underdogs. The Chiefs limited Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard to 16/82 rushing and 8/56 receiving in their last contest before their Week 12 bye. The Broncos could be getting some much-needed offensive line reinforcement this week with LT Garrett Bolles (ankle) and RT Bobby Massie (ankle) eyeing returns in their pivotal matchup with the Chiefs.
Brolley’s Chiefs Stats and Trends
The Chiefs have won 11 straight games outright against the Broncos, and they’ve covered in nine of those contests.
Kansas City has won four straight games outright and they’ve covered in two consecutive games.
The Chiefs have played under the total in five of their last six games.
Patrick Mahomes has topped 15+ FP just once in his last five games, but it was a doozy with 406/5 passing for 36.2 FP against the Raiders in Week 10. Mahomes managed a combined 518/2 passing in two games against the Broncos last season. Justin Herbert managed 303/2 passing and 21.7 FP in this matchup last week.
Tyreek Hill has seen double-digit targets in four straight games and in 7-of-8 games, but he hasn’t topped 100+ receiving yards since Week 4. He’s reached 20+ FP and 7+ catches in three of his last four games. Tyreek finished with a combined 12/113/1 receiving in two matchups with the Broncos last season.
For as uneven as his season has been compared to prior campaigns, Travis Kelce is still comfortably the top fantasy TE1 coming out of his bye with 16.8 FPG. He’s scored 17+ FP in three straight games and in five of his last seven contests. Kelce hung a combined 11/167/1 receiving in two showdowns with the Broncos last season.
Byron Pringle ran the second-most WR routes in Kansas City’s last game with 29, followed by Josh Gordon (17) and Mecole Hardman (8). Pringle has managed 5/83/1 receiving on seven targets since being elevated to the #2 WR spot two games ago. The Broncos are giving up the 11th-fewest FPG (33.8) to WRs this season.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire played well in Week 11 after a five-game layoff, posting 12/65/1 rushing (5.3 YPC) and 2/13 receiving on two targets against the Cowboys. He played just 47% of the snaps with Darrel Williams still factoring in with 6/26 scrimmage on 53% of the snaps. CEH should see a bump in playing time with a game under his belt but Darrel isn’t going away. CEH managed 9/63/1 scrimmage in his lone matchup against the Broncos last season.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace: 29.2 (24th)
Plays per game: 60.3 (25th)
Pass: 62.4% (14th) | Run: 37.6% (19th)
Pace (seconds in between plays): 26.3 (5th)
Plays per game: 72.4 (2nd)
Pass: 68.2% (1st) | Run: 31.8% (32nd)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
While their performance back in Week 10 against the Raiders had everyone clamoring that the “Chiefs are back” – their follow-up performance against the Cowboys left a lot to be desired. While Kansas City’s defense is playing significantly better, the larger sample on the offense is mediocre overall. Over their last eight games, the Chiefs rank 16th – right smack dab in the middle of the league – in scores (FG or TD) per possession at 37.3% while their defense is third-best (30.1%).
The good news is that all of the surrounding factors for a resurgence are lining up. Over the last eight weeks, they are sustaining drives (2nd in plays per game), playing fast (5th in pace), and are the most pass-heavy attack. So what has been the problem? The main culprit is that the Chiefs just need to start cashing in on some TDs in scoring range. Since Week 5, Kansas City is generating 3.9 red-zone drives per game (sixth-most) but have scored touchdowns on just 48% of those inside-the-20 possessions (fifth-worst).
Meanwhile, the Broncos defense has tightened since their mid-season lull, too. They’ve allowed 17 or fewer points to the Browns, Washington, Cowboys, and Chargers while the Eagles (30 points allowed) are the lone blemish over their last five games. Offensively, everything the Broncos do looks difficult and they are going to be forced to play from behind here as massive 9- to 10-point underdogs. Over the last eight weeks, the Broncos are the seventh-most pass-heavy offense when trailing (71.4%) so Teddy Bridgewater will be forced to air it out here. It might not be pretty, but the passing volume should be there for the Broncos pass catchers. In the Broncos five losses, Bridgewater has averaged 36.4 pass attempts per game as opposed to just 30 attempts/game in their six wins.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
The late games of Week 13 feature four of the top defenses in the league. Including Kansas City within that statement early in the season would draw a few giggles. But they’ve transformed that defense into a powerhouse. Over the last four weeks, the Chiefs are surrendering only 68.9 FPG to entire offenses (fourth-fewest). In all honesty, I’m not even in love with Jerry Jeudy’s matchup in Week 13. But, based on the matchups, he’s the only one with a clear path to sniffing semi-reliable production.
Now that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is back to full health, he could provide a significant boost to Kansas City’s run game. However, Denver is holding opposing RBs to the fewest goal-to-go attempts/game (1.09) and red zone touches/game (2.64).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
The big news from this game as we sit here today is the status of RB Melvin Gordon, who is dealing with a litany of injuries. It’s likely he doesn’t play on Sunday night after missing multiple practices — he’s listed as doubtful.
Fangio says RB Melvin Gordon III is doubtful with hip so don’t plan on him playing. Javonte Williams starts with Mike Boone getting a couple carries. Damarea Crockett could be called up to 53 tomorrow. #9sports— Mike Klis (@mikeklis) December 3, 2021
Of course, that would affect Javonte Williams, who has split snaps nearly evenly with Gordon this year. Combined the two backs average 23.5 FPG, which would rank #3 at RB if Gordon and Williams were one person (let’s call him “Gordon Williams”). Obviously, we can’t assume Javonte would get the entire workload if Gordon were to be inactive, but even 75% of that production would be 17.6 FPG, which would be right below Leonard Fournette for RB10 on the season. So I’d be willing to consider Williams an RB1 — easily — if Gordon doesn’t play. It’s a Sunday night game, so keep an eye on any and all reports, though it’s looking good for #JavonteSZN.
One would think beyond that, the Broncos and QB Teddy Bridgewater would have to throw it on Sunday to beat the Chiefs… which they haven’t done since Peyton Manning was at QB. But Bridgewater is dinged up, and he hasn’t been getting the ball to the recently extended Courtland Sutton, who’s big money contract suggests to me that the Broncos blame the QB situation much more than the receiver.
Here’s Graham from Start/Sit on Sutton:
“Even on a day where Jerry Jeudy was shut down by Chris Harris (for 2/23 receiving), Courtland Sutton was an afterthought in the Broncos passing attack last week. Sutton caught 2 balls for 17 yards against the Chargers and now has just 7 receptions for 95 yards over the last month. In fact, in the five full games Sutton and Jeudy have played together this year, Sutton has managed to earn just 15 targets while Jeudy has 31. Yikes. The Chiefs are playing much better defense as of late and are allowing just 5 catches (ninth-fewest) and 12.9 fantasy points (eighth-fewest) per game to receivers lined up out wide. Sutton is only a dart throw at this point.”
Yeah, I prefer Jerry Jeudy by far at this point.
So, the Chiefs are back!!! Right? Right??? Well… Graham dug into the numbers for last week’s Stat-Pack.
One good game against the Raiders wasn’t enough to turn around this Chiefs offense. Patrick Mahomes’ passer rating fell back down to 71.9 in their win over the Cowboys as their offense was very mediocre overall.
Kansas City scored on their first three drives, but then managed just a field goal on their final 10 possessions vs. Dallas.
Mahomes has finished as the QB22, QB17, QB19, and QB27 in four of his last five games. He was QB1 vs. the Raiders in Week 10.
The good news is that Mahomes is only throwing to the two receivers we care about. On his 37 throws, Mahomes targeted Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill a combined 19 times (for a combined 51% target share).
Darrel Williams actually out-snapped Clyde Edwards-Helaire (53% to 47%) and ran more routes than him (25 to 16), but CEH led the way in carries (12 to 5).
And then, of course, there is the legendary “Andy Reid off a bye” stat:
Andy Reid after a bye >>> pic.twitter.com/zFFTsiXka5— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) January 14, 2021
Fantasy players mostly believe the Chief offense is going to get right. Most don’t have any choice, and it is probably the most likely outcome. But there are still some pains here to get through.
One thing to keep an eye on — RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire is ill and is officially questionable for Sunday night. It appears likely he’ll play, but if not, Darrel Williams is on the RB1 radar. Keep an eye on Sunday morning reports.
Rashad Fenton (knee) and Lucas Niang (ribs) won’t play on Sunday, per Coach Reid.— Matt McMullen (@KCChiefs_Matt) December 3, 2021
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (stomach illness) didn’t practice today, but Reid thinks he’ll be fine to go on Sunday.