Mitchell Schwartz

Broncos underdogs at Chiefs for key Sunday Night Football meeting

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Young quarterback Trevor Siemian will need a lot of help if the Denver Broncos are to continue their history of success in Kansas City.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 3.5-point favorites against the Broncos with a 37.5-point total in the Sunday Night Football matchup, according to sportsbooks monitored by the OddsShark.com.

The Broncos are in a virtual must-win situation as far as their playoffs hopes are concerned, but are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven road games against the Chiefs, according to the OddsShark NFL Database. They are also 9-3 straight-up and ATS in their last 12 games as an underdog of 4.5 points or less. Conversely, the Chiefs are 10-2 SU and 4-8 ATS over their last 12 home games at Arrowhead Stadium.

Denver, which is 8-6 SU and ATS, has struggled to break 20 points on a consistent basis this season, since the offensive line simply hasn’t been strong enough at run blocking or keeping blitzers off Siemian. The young QB has made progress, but will have to be careful against a pass defense with an impressive 15 interceptions.

Broncos wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas are also facing a respectable pass defense, led by CB Marcus Peters, that has kept teams to 7.1 yards per pass even though they have faced a string of tough offenses.

The Broncos will need to keep Chiefs OLB Dee Ford, OLB Justin Houston, and DE Dee Ford from getting to Siemian. Young running back Devontae Booker hasn’t always delivered on his potential, but he did scoot for 79 yards in the teams’ first meeting in Week 11.

Kansas City, which is 10-4 SU and 7-7 ATS, will be out to clinch a playoff berth with a win. Quarterback Alex Smith and his regular targets such as TE Travis Kelce, WR Tyreek Hill and WR Jeremy Maclin will have to solve a pass defense that allows an NFL-low 183 yards per game. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz will also have to do a better job against OLB Von Miller, who had three sacks in the teams’ first meeting.

Injury issues with SS T.J. Ward (concussion protocol), DE Derek Wolfe (neck) and ILB Brandon Marshall could affect Denver’s already soft run defense, which is 29th in the NFL and has also struggled to generate turnovers. The Chiefs’ running game, with Spencer Ware as the busiest ball carrier, isn’t very efficient but it’s a sure bet coach Andy Reid won’t abandon it and let his offense become one-dimensional.

The total has gone over in 11 of the Broncos’ last 14 games with a closing total of 38 points or less.  The total has gone under in eight of the Chiefs’ last 10 games.