The Kansas City Chiefs will look to end their 2021 regular season with a win over the Denver Broncos, who hope to play the spoiler before entering the offseason. The Chiefs need a Titans win and loss to the Texans to secure the No.1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
After a 3-4 start, the Chiefs won eight straight games before losing a shootout in Cincinnati last Sunday. Conversely, the Broncos got off to a 3-0 start before suffering a four-game losing streak. At 7-7, Denver remained in search of a playoff berth before losing a defensive duel in Las Vegas in Week 16. The Broncos offered little resistance in a 34-13 loss to the Chargers in Los Angeles on Sunday.
We will give a preview of the match and give our prediction for Saturday’s result. Here’s how you can follow the action in real time.
How to watch
Dated: Saturday January 8 | Time: 4:30 p.m. ET
Site: Empower Field in Mile High (Denver)
TV: CBS | Flux: Paramount + (click here)
To follow: CBS Sports app
Chances: Heads -11.5, O / U 45
When the Chiefs have the ball
The Kansas City offense has averaged over 37 points per game in its last four outings. The offensive continues to pass through Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Mahomes has thrown 35 touchdowns this season, while Hill and Kelce have totaled 198 passes for 2,328 yards and 17 touchdowns. With Clyde Edwards-Helaire on the mend with an injury, the Chiefs’ running game was led by Darrel Williams, who ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s loss to Cincinnati.
The Chiefs will face a Broncos defense that is third in the NFL for points allowed, seventh for passing yards allowed and third for red zone efficiency. The Broncos’ defense struggled to control possessions as they are 27th in the NFL in third-down efficiency. Under contract, the Chiefs boast the third-highest-ranked offense in the NFL, with a 51.8% success rate. Mahomes will face a formidable Broncos secondary led by securities Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. Simmons has five interceptions, a record for the team. Rookie cornerback Patrick Surtain II, who has four picks and 14 assists defended, the team’s top, has been ruled out with a calf injury.
When the Broncos have the ball
Teddy Bridgewater is on the injured list, so Drew Lock will be making his third start of the season. The former second-round pick lost his first two starts of the season despite over 70% of his assists in those games. Lock’s favorite target last week was the tight end and his draft classmate Noah Fant, who caught six passes for 92 yards and one score. The Broncos also have a formidable receiving duo with receivers Tim Patrick and Courtland Sutton. They also have a strong running backing duo in Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, who combined to amass 2,170 versatile yards and 16 touchdowns.
As he struggled in Cincinnati, Kansas City’s defense was largely flat during their eight-game winning streak. The unit was led by Chris Jones (9 sacks), safety back Tyrann Mathieu (three interceptions and three fumbles recovered) and linebacker Nick Bolton (106 tackles). The key to the Chiefs’ defense is to force turnovers; Kansas City did not impose any last Sunday after accumulating 20 in its streak of consecutive wins.
Latest odds: Denver Broncos +11
I can sense the nervousness in Denver. The Broncos have the weapons on offense to exploit a Chiefs defense that is 28th in the NFL in passing yards allowed and in average yards per carry. The key is how well Lock can play against the Chiefs’ opportunistic defense. If Lock can handle the ball, the Broncos are capable of causing surprise while ending their season on a high note.
Goal: Broncos 20, heads 17