Denver Broncos

NFL Week 17 odds roundup: Playoff positioning on the line in top matchups

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With backup Matt McGloin at the controls, the Oakland Raiders will try to sustain their road-warrior mojo against the Denver Broncos. The playoff-bound Raiders, minus QB Derek Carr (broken fibula), are 2.5-point road underdogs against the Broncos at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The New England Patriots’ result will determine whether the Raiders have a shot at the AFC’s No. 1 seed, but a loss coupled with a Kansas City Chiefs win would leave them in a wild-card spot. The Raiders are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 road games.

The Raiders, through RB Latavius Murray, have the fifth-ranked rushing attack and Denver is porous against the run. If McGloin passes well enough to keep the Broncos defense honest, Oakland could outscore Denver’s mediocre offense.

The New England Patriots are listed as 10-point road favorites against the Miami Dolphins.  The Dolphins, who are 9-1 SU and 8-1-1 ATS over their last 10 games, will have RB Jay Ajayi in the lineup to help with their formula of running the ball and playing good defense. Tom Brady might rely on RB LeGarrette Blount to ease the load, since Miami’s run defense is just average.

The Kansas City Chiefs are a 5.5-point road favorite against the San Diego Chargers as they vie for the AFC West title. The Chiefs, who rolled against Denver in Week 16, are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games after an ATS win, but FS Eric Berry and a takeaway-happy defense are matched against the team with the NFL’s second-most turnovers.

The Washington Redskins, who need a win and some help to make the playoffs, are eight-point favorites against the New York Giants, the locked-in No. 5 seed. Washington has not been this big of a favorite since 2009. Whether QB Kirk Cousins‘ primary targets such as WR DeSean Jackson and TE Jordan Reed face the Giants’ starters for a full four quarters is unclear.

The Atlanta Falcons are 6.5-point favorites against the New Orleans Saints. Matt Ryan‘s offense has lit up the scoreboard against much better defenses than the Saints’ 25th-ranked unit. On the other side of the ball, Drew Brees has the league’s most productive offense and New Orleans is 5-2 SU in their last seven visits to Atlanta.

And with the NFC North title on the line, the Green Bay Packers are favored by 3.5 points on the road against the Detroit Lions in the Sunday Night Football matchup. The Lions are 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS in their last six home games, but have rarely shown the type of formidable pass rush it would take to get Packers QB Aaron Rodgers out of the zone he has been in for the past five games.

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.

Siemian solidifies QB job in Denver’s 17-9 win over Rams

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DENVER (AP) Trevor Siemian thinks he’s done enough to win the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback job.

If he feels the same way, coach Gary Kubiak isn’t saying just yet.

“I’m going to make a decision this week … but I’ve got a lot of things going on, so I’ll take my time, do it the right way,” Kubiak said after watching Siemian throw his first TD pass of the preseason in Denver’s 17-9 win over the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday night.

Siemian was more impressive than his stat line – 10 of 17 for 122 yards, one TD and one arguable interception – showing off his strong right arm and just the kind of patience, poise and precision required of Peyton Manning’s successor as Denver defends its Super Bowl title.

“I feel confident,” Siemian said when asked if this was his job. “Ultimately, that’s up to Kubes.”

Asked if he felt he’d done enough, Siemian said, “I do, but again, that’s not my call.”

Aside from his 1-yard TD strike to Virgil Green, he had a beautiful pass to Demaryius Thomas streaking down the Rams sideline for a 43-yard gain that set up the go-ahead score.

“I’m impressed,” Kubiak said. “I think he’s very calm. I can tell by the way he handles the team in the huddle, he’s got control of what’s going on. What I see is I see a guy getting better every time out.”

Rookie Paxton Lynch was also more impressive than his stats – 6 of 13 for 57 yards – leading a scoring drive that ended with Ronnie Hillman‘s 7-yard TD run.

That left Mark Sanchez as the odd man out on this night and, possibly, come cut-down day.

If he’s not on the 53-man roster, the Broncos will save $3.5 million and the seventh-round draft pick they would have owed the Eagles.

After announcing Siemian would make his second straight start, Kubiak decided he’d play his first-round pick and sit Sanchez, something he told him about over breakfast.

“Bottom line, I’ve got a lot to go off of on Mark. He’s played a lot of football. But we needed to see these other two kids play again,” Kubiak said.

Sanchez left the stadium without comment.

It was Sanchez’s job to lose when training camp began and he’s apparently done just that with a slew of turnovers in the preseason.

An afterthought while taking just one snap – a kneel-down – as a rookie last season, Siemian has emerged as the best option to lead the team with Manning on the links and Brock Osweiler in Houston.

Siemian’s only blemish came on a deep ball that went off receiver Cody Latimer‘s hands at the goal line and hit the ground, but was still ruled an interception by safety Cody Davis.

The Rams settled for three field goals by Greg Zuerlein.

M-V-P! M-V-P!

Super Bowl MVP Von Miller recorded his first sack of the preseason, a 9-yard takedown of Case Keenum on the Rams’ first series.

“I feel better than I ever have before with my conditioning,” Miller said. “I’m feeling comfortable out there. We’re ready to go back to the regular season.”

Miller’s was the first of six sacks by the Broncos, including 2 1-2 by LB Dekoda Watson, but the biggest hit was LB Vontarrius Dora‘s clean shot to the chest of No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff just before he left the game in the third quarter.

TALIB TROUBLE

Broncos CB Aqib Talib was pulled following his 15-yard penalty for hitting Keenum out of bounds on a scramble in which the Rams QB was heading for the sideline, not turning upfield.

“You don’t like to see that happen, especially in a preseason game,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

Keenum, for one, didn’t see it happen.

“It all happened pretty fast,” he said. “I was on the ground before I knew it.”

Kayvon Webster came in and made several nice plays in Talib’s place, including a pass breakup on a fourth-and-1 toss from Jared Goff to Michael Thomas.

ROOKIE WATCH

Rams: Goff was 4 of 12 for 45 yards and was sacked for a 10-yard loss.

Broncos: G Connor McGovern went in at center midway through the fourth quarter.

POSITION BATTLES

Rams: While most of L.A.’s starters played through the first half, RB Todd Gurley sat this one out.

Broncos: Riley Dixon, a seventh-round draft pick, got the start ahead of Britton Colquitt, who has a $4 million hit against the cap this season. Dixon’s night included a 56-yard punt and a nice hold on the 50-yard FG.

INJURY UPDATE

Rams: DE Robert Quinn received his first playing time since undergoing back surgery in December.

Broncos: Anderson needed stiches to close a cut on his right ear. Latimer suffered a knee injury while blocking on a punt return in the third quarter. Kubiak said he didn’t think it was serious. FB Andy Janovich injured a shoulder.

AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton