After a three-week diversion from reality, the real Denver Broncos have shown up the past two weeks and it hasn’t been good. In Week 15, the Broncos are beaten at home by the Browns. Denver was officially eliminated from playoff contention. That’s the way it should be, but a late three-game winning streak served false hope in the Rocky Mountains.
But, in the end, the Broncos have failed to make the playoffs for the third straight season since winning the Super Bowl to end the Peyton Manning era. Now, all eyes are on whether Denver will fire coach Vance Joseph after a second-straight unimpressive season at the helm.
Here’s how fans of NFL betting should approach the weekend in the AFC West.
AFC West Best Bets
Chiefs (-2) over Seahawks
The Kansas City Chiefs get back to work at after their incredible, 29-28, home loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15. Kansas City is still in control of the AFC West and the hunt for the home-field advantage in throughout the AFC playoffs.
The Chiefs have lost three last-second games by a total of seven points. They have responded to the first two defeats with easy wins. Of course, Sunday night, will be a tough challenge in Seattle.
The Seahawks are always a difficult challenge at home, especially at night. Plus, Seattle is still fighting for a playoff spot. But I like this two-point spread in the Chiefs’ favor. Kansas City is a better team. The Chiefs are getting healthy and Andy Reid’s team seems focused on the big picture. Go with the Chiefs and give the two points.
Chargers (-4.5) over Ravens
The Chargers are suddenly the team in the spotlight in the NFL. With some teams showing signs of vulnerability late in the season, the Chargers are peaking. They have lost one game since, yet are currently slated to be the No. 5 seed in the AFC playoffs. If the Chiefs slip, the Chargers are waiting to pounce.
The fact that the Chargers are 4.5-point favorite over the Baltimore Ravens is pretty fair. The Chargers have five close wins and have lost several games by a small margin. Plus, the Ravens have had the NFL’s best defenses most of the season and they are fighting for both the AFC North and wild-card berth.
So, this Saturday night contest may be close. But I think the Chargers. He is a big reason: rest. The Chargers are playing on eight days rest. The Ravens are playing on five days rest and they have to travel across the country for this game.
Add in the fact that Chargers’ running back Melvin Gordon is healthy, and the team may get receiver Keenan Allen and running back Austin Ekeler. All signs point to taking the Chargers -4.5.
Raiders-Broncos (Over 45.5)
When these two teams played in Week 2 in Denver, the Broncos won, 20-19, in the final second. The over/under betting total is higher this time at 44.5. This a winnable over bet.
Oakland has moved the ball at home in several games this season. The Raiders will be motivated because this game, which is on Monday Night Football, could be the final game in Oakland. Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr will be motivated to put on a show for the home folks.
Meanwhile, Denver can take advantage of Oakalnd’s defense, which has allowed a league-high 418 points. The Raiders reverted to their porous ways in Week 15 at Cincinnati after an upset win over Pittsburgh. The Bengals came into the game with a bad backup quarterback, without star receiver A.J. Green, a five-game losing streak and the NFL’s work run and scoring defense.
And the Bengals punched Oakland in the mouth, 30-16.
Oakland’s run defense is terrible. Cincinnati had 171 yards on the ground last week. Denver rookie Pro Bowl selection Phillip Lindsay has been slowed the past two weeks. But expect the Broncos to go often to take advantage of the Raiders’ ground defense.
Raiders (+2.5) over Broncos
The Raiders have won just three games this season. They are by a total of eight points and they all occurred on the last play of the game. They are not good. But neither is Denver. The Broncos are just playing out the string. The only drama is whether Joseph is going to be fired.
The Broncos will not have any interest in being in Oakland on Christmas Eve. The Raiders, meanwhile, have something to play for – this might be the final game in Oakland. Coach Jon Gruden said he will show his players a video of the history of football in Oakland to make them grasp the importance of this game. The Raiders will be ready. Take Oakland +2.5.