Sunday Night Football: Broncos hope for bye-week bump as favorites against Chiefs

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The Denver Broncos bring a post-bye week win streak into their matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Broncos are the 3.5-point betting favorite against the Chiefs with a 39.5-point total in the Sunday night matchup at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

While Denver is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games as a favorite of 3.5 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, a more pertinent metric might be that the Broncos are 8-2 both straight-up and ATS in games after the bye week since 2006. The Chiefs also own an impressive trend of being 7-0 SU in their last seven divisional games.

The teams are tied for second in the AFC West and the winner will greatly improve its playoff prospects.

For Kansas City, which is 7-3 SU and 4-6 ATS, there could be added pressure on QB Alex Smith and the offense to perform since their 20th-ranked defense is maddeningly inconsistent. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, as a member of the Cleveland Browns last season, limited reigning Super Bowl MVP Von Miller to one quarterback pressure. Containing Miller will be essential.

Kansas City could be challenged in the passing phase since the possible absence of No. 1 WR Jeremy Maclin (groin) would mean that Broncos pass defenders such as CB Chris Harris, FS Darian Stewart and CB Aqib Talib can put more focus on WR Tyreek Hill and TE Travis Kelce. Kelce has not scored a touchdown in four career games against the Broncos.

Denver’s third-ranked defense does allow a generous 4.4 yards per carry. As long as the time and score permit staying on the ground, Chiefs RB Spencer Ware should be able to grind out some tough yards.

Denver is 7-3 SU and 7-3 ATS. In their last outing, the Broncos won in New Orleans as the underdog and they happen to be 13-2 SU in their last 15 games after winning as the underdog. The Broncos’ offense, with starting QB Trevor Siemian, is the sixth-least productive in the NFL, but whether the Chiefs’ defense has the edge is questionable. Kansas City will have top CB Marcus Peters back to fortify their coverage against WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders.

Three core members of Kansas City’s front seven – DE Jaye Howard (hip), NT Dontari Poe (knee) and ILB Derrick Johnson – are probably going to play hurt. That might help facilitate some openings for RB Devontae Booker. Against a Chiefs team with an NFL-best +13 giveaway/takeaway ratio, Siemian is going to have to be disciplined in order to make sure Denver cashes in their scoring opportunities.

The total has gone under in the Chiefs’ last six games. The total has gone under in four of the Broncos’ last five games with a closing total of 40 points or less.

WATCH: Seahawks’ Paul Richardson pulls in absurd touchdown catch against Lions

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It took until the first round of the playoffs, but we may finally have our winner for catch of the year.

On 4th and goal at the Lions’ 2, Russell Wilson lobbed up a pass to Paul Richardson, who was completely covered by Tavon Wilson.

Richardson stuck out his left hand and pulled in a miraculous grab to give Seattle the lead.

[Watch the rest of the second half from Seattle on NBC Sports Live]

Simply amazing.

 

Seahawks, Texans are the betting favorites for Saturday’s Wild Card games

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The Seattle Seahawks’ sporadic scoring output is something to consider when looking at the big point spread against the Detroit Lions. The Seahawks are listed as eight-point favorites against the Lions in their NFC wild card matchup set for Saturday at CenturyLink Field, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

The Seahawks are 7-0 straight-up in their last seven home games against teams from the Eastern Time Zone and the Lions are 2-5 against the spread in their last seven road games. However, Seattle scored 10 or fewer points four times at home this season, and none of those instances came against a premier defense.

The Lions, 9-7 SU and 8-8 ATS, are coming into the playoffs on a three-loss skid. One boon to the Lions’ chances is that the Seahawks, without free safety Earl Thomas, have been hopeless at stopping deep passes. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should be able to hit a few deep shots to the likes of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and T.J. Jones in order to compensate for a nearly nonexistent running game. That could help the Lions, who are 0-8 SU in their last eight playoff games, make it interesting.

The Seahawks, 10-5-1 SU and 7-8-1 ATS, have never lost at home in the playoffs during the Pete Carroll/Russell Wilson era. One can reasonably expect they will find some of their familiar postseason form. Seattle’s pass protection and run blocking has been problematic, so there could be opportunities to disrupt Wilson’s timing. Otherwise, WR Doug Baldwin and TE Jimmy Graham could have big nights.

The total has gone under in eight of the Lions’ last 10 games. The total has gone over in five of the Seahawks’ last six games in the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Houston Texans are listed as four-point favorites against the Oakland Raiders in Saturday’s AFC wild card matchup.

The Raiders, 12-4 SU and 10-6 ATS, will have rookie third-stringer Connor Cook become the first NFL QB to get his first career start in the playoffs. With Cook playing instead of Derek Carr (broken fibula), Houston might not have to honor the deep pass threat and can thus commit to containing RB Latavius Murray and limiting the damage on short-range passes to WR Amari Cooper and WR Michael Crabtree.

The fact erratic Brock Osweiler is back in at QB might account for why the Texans, who are 9-7 SU and 6-9-1 ATS, are not a bigger favorite against a hobbled team. The Raiders simply haven’t stopped anyone when teams have schemed to slow down edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. If Osweiler can curb his tendency to be overaggressive and allow WR DeAndre Hopkins and RB Lamar Miller to have opportunities, the Texans should be able to move the ball steadily.

Keep in mind, though, that the visiting team has gone 4-0 SU and ATS in the last four editions of this matchup. The total has gone over in seven of the Raiders’ last 10 games.  The total has gone under in nine of the Texans’ last 12 games at home.