Chiefs vs Broncos Week 18 Picks and Predictions: Routine Win for KC Ahead of the Playoffs

The Chiefs have almost certainly lost the first seed and bye week that comes with it in the AFC, but they'll maintain the second spot with a win over the Broncos. Don't expect many issues for KC in Denver, as our NFL betting picks highlight.

Alistair Corp - Publishing Editor at
Alistair Corp • Publishing Editor
Jan 7, 2022 • 19:42 ET • 5 min read

The Kansas City Chiefs had their win streak and, in all likelihood, their chance at the one seed and a first round bye ended last week as they fell to the Bengals in a barnburner. 

Kansas City will now close out the season in Denver against the eliminated Broncos, with a win all KC needs to secure the second seed (a win and a Texans upset over the Titans would vault it back into first). 

Can Denver end a three-game slide and cause a little havoc to its division rival's playoff standing to close out the year? Keep reading for our free NFL picks and predictions for Chiefs vs. Broncos. 

Chiefs vs Broncos odds

Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.

The Chiefs opened between 9.5- and 10-point favorites and have seen moved to -10.5 almost everywhere. The total opened between 44 and 44.5 and has remained at 44.5 at most books.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full NFL odds before placing your bets.

Chiefs vs Broncos predictions

Predictions made on 1/5/2022 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Chiefs vs Broncos game info

Location: Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Date: Saturday, January 8, 2022
Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

Chiefs at Broncos betting preview


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Key injuries

Chiefs: Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB (Out), Lucas Niang T (Out), Mike Remmers T (Out).
Broncos: Nate Hairston CB (Questionable), Shelby Harris DE (Questionable), Ronald Darby CB (Out), Patrick Surtain CB (Out), Teddy Bridgewater QB (Out), Kareem Jackson S (Out), Dalton Risner G (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Under is 5-1-1 in the last seven games between the AFC West's Chiefs and Broncos. Find more NFL betting trends for Chiefs vs. Broncos.

Chiefs vs Broncos picks and predictions

Our predictions are compiled from the analysis of the spread and total and are indications of where we are leaning for this game.
Our best bet is the play that we like the most for this game, which we would actually put some of our bankroll behind.

The Chiefs woke up a monster by getting up early over the Bengals last Sunday, as Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase, and Cincinnati's offense went bombs away punishing a blitz-happy Kansas City defense. It was a bad matchup for a Chiefs defense that has been so good for most of the year and yet, some tough luck at the very end of the game was the only thing that stopped Patrick Mahomes from having the ball and a chance to win. 

To overreact to Kansas City's loss would be foolish, as it's still a Super Bowl contender in plain sight. The offense is elite from an efficiency standpoint, fourth in weighted DVOA, sunk by a 10th rated running game, while they remain first in yards and points per drive, as well as drive success rate. The Chiefs are rounding back into form as far as explosiveness too, ranking 13th in explosive pass rate with Mahomes' intended air yards creeping back up toward its typical average.

Just as the Chiefs' offense is vastly superior to Denver's offense, which is an experiment in death by a thousand papercuts gone wrong, Kansas City's defense gets the edge on the Broncos' defense too. 

Though the two units are ranked fairly closely in weighted DVOA, with Kansas City 12th and Denver 17th, there's a considerable gap between the two (Chiefs -5.4% vs. Broncos -0.3%). Kansas City creates turnovers at a far higher rate (1.75 per game compared to 1.18) and pressures opposing passers at the sixth-highest rate, compared to the Broncos' 12th placed pressure rate. Worse still for Denver is its two best pass rushers, Malik Reed and Bradley Chubb, are both fresh off the COVID list.

Everything points toward the Chiefs being a far better team, on both sides of the ball, than the Broncos. Really, though, this is a bet against Drew Lock. Over his last 15 starts, dating back to Week 1 of last season, Denver's average scoring margin with Lock at the helm is -7.4. He has never proven to be a competent quarterback and he won't allow the Broncos to be competitive on Sunday.

Prediction: Chiefs -10 (-110)

With a hyper-efficient offense and a defense that had been among the NFL's best for multiple months, Kansas City went into Cincinnati favored over the Bengals. To extend their win streak to nine games, all the Chiefs seemingly needed to do was limit the lifeblood of Cincinnati's offense: explosive plays.

Well, we know how that went, with Chase running away from Kansas City's defense and running away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in a Bengals win. While Week 17 is certainly a cause for concern should the Chiefs again meet an explosive offense in the playoffs, it is of no concern in the immediate future. 

The Broncos don't hit on explosive plays, as they rank 20th in explosive pass rate, and can't finish drives, sitting 20th in points per drive and 21st in red zone scoring rate. Their offense reached a new low last week as Lock had to operate the offense without Jerry Jeudy or Tim Patrick and while the pair are back, it's tough to see a big improvement as Denver goes from facing a defense ranked 27th in weighted DVOA to one that ranks 12th. 

Kansas City will no doubt look to get up early in order to secure the AFC's No. 2 seed and get out of Denver healthy. The Chiefs' defense will handle an increasingly lifeless Broncos offense while their offense won't have the opportunities or need to run up the score. 

Prediction: Under 44.5 (-110)

The first meeting between these two, at the start of December, limped to a total of 31 with 10 points scored in the first quarter of a 22-9 Chiefs win. Despite going well Under the total of 46.5, we only see a slight drop for the rematch.

Worryingly for the Broncos, that first performance came with Teddy Bridgewater, not Lock, at the helm. For all of Bridgewater's shortcomings, he is a significantly better option than Lock and can at the very least operate an offense. Yet, Denver mustered just a single point per drive and turned the ball over four times, with two picks and two turnovers on downs.

The Broncos were 6-6 then, so with nothing to play for and a worse passer under center here, a similarly flat offensive performance can be expected. 

On the other side is a Chiefs team that has scored fewer than 30 points on seven occasions this year and has leaned on efficiency, ball control, and defense to win games. Mahomes and KC have flexed their muscles on offense recently, with four straight 30+ point games, but with their playoff seeding more-or-less locked in, it could be a quick exit for the starters should they get up a few scores early. 

Even with higher stakes for both teams, we'd lean toward the Under in this matchup but with the circumstances in mind, it is our best bet. 

Pick: Under 44.5 (-110)

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