IT'S FINALLY HERE! KANSAS CITY VISITS DENVER TO DETERMINE AFC SUPREMACY
The most anticipated game of the 2013 NFL season goes Sunday Night when the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs visit the 8-1 Denver Broncos in a matchup that will be nationally televised by NBC. Even though most Power Ratings systems show the Broncos as the best team in the NFL, they're currently in the WILDCARD spot because they trail the unbeaten Chiefs in the AFC West. Is this the night Kansas City is exposed as a pretender? Or, is it Peyton Manning and Denver who are destined to be disappointed again.
Our standard stat gauntlet shows some very interesting things in this particular matchup. So, let's jump right in...
Won-Lost Records (strength of schedule)
Kansas City: 9-0 (#32 schedule in USA Today)
Denver: 8-1 (#31 schedule in USA Today)
Everybody seems to know that Kansas City has had a ridiculously easy schedule. But, Denver is right there with them! You'll hear pundits talking about how the Chiefs have barely been eking out wins against mediocre opponents. Less widely understood is that Denver has been running up the score against soft opponents. It's possible that BOTH teams are pretenders by real Super Bowl standards! We'll hopefully learn a lot more about that Sunday Night. But, it's possible that next week's Denver/New England game and a matchup down the road between Kansas City and Indianapolis will have to be truer tests. Drawing the NFC East in the schedule rotation was an absolute gift for AFC West teams this year.
Kansas City: 4.8 on offense, 5.1 on defense
Denver: 6.4 on offense, 5.5 on defense
There's a lot to be concerned about there with the Chiefs. If you're on the wrong side of zero in differential while facing the easiest schedule in the league...then what's going to happen when you play good teams? Their only bailout is that they might be one of those teams that plays to the level of their competition. Denver's differential is excellent...but it would drift back to something more mortal against a league average schedule.
Kansas City: +15
This is why Kansas City is undefeated. And, this is why you have to be skeptical about them as any sort of Super Bowl threat. They're living off the miscues of bad teams. You don't face bad teams in the playoffs! While it's great to be getting the best of it on the risk/reward scale, a differential THAT high at this stage of the season involves some good fortune. So far, Kansas City isn't just a pretender...they're an extreme pretender. Denver's concerns are on the other end. Their defense isn't aggressive enough to force a lot of turnovers...putting all the weight on Peyton Manning's aging shoulders.
Kansas City: 6-3 ATS
Denver: 5-3-1 ATS
Both teams have offered value this year, as the market underestimated how each would perform against their easy schedules. What Denver's does is pretty impressive because they've been priced as "best in the league" from the get-go...yet they're still covering numbers.
Current Line: Denver by 8, total 49.5
Denver is still being priced as "best in the league" with that line. Though, we started seeing a drop over the weekend from what had been Broncos -8.5. The drop may continue because sportsbooks don't want this game sitting in the teaser window that would allow sharps and squares to move the Broncos down to -1.5, -2 or -2.5 in two-team teasers. And, we're hearing that sharps are starting to get active with underdog investments because it doesn't look like the square public is going to pound the favorite.
How's this game likely to play out? What mysteries will be solved? Will Kansas City get blown out, suggesting they're just an 8-8 type team that's caught all the breaks so far this year? Will Kansas City match Indianapolis and Dallas in terms of giving the Broncos all they can handle? We're not exactly talking about juggernauts with those two teams...and Kansas City did beat Dallas.
This is a game that could miss the Vegas line by two touchdowns in either direction! And, that means it's a game where you shouldn't make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say! Get Jim's AFC Battle Royale Game of the Year right here online.
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Back with you tomorrow to run the numbers in what's shaping up as a great New England/Carolina matchup on ESPN's Monday Night Football. For now...Kansas City/Denver is the biggest game of the year so far in the NFL...so you need the biggest name in sports handicapping...JIM HURLEY!
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