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.

Marcus Mariota can’t even explain his historic touchdown catch

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A touchdown pass to … yourself?!

That’s exactly what happened to Titans QB Marcus Mariota in Tennessee’s incredible 22-21 Wild Card victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs were up 21-3 entering halftime and appeared to be well on their way to advancing to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, but then Mariota made history with one of the craziest plays you’ll ever see:

With the six-yard touchdown, Mariota became the first player in NFL history to record a passing and receiving TD in a playoff game.

NFL Wild Card Weekend betting lines reflect recent favorites trend

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Wild Card Weekend has been ruled by favored teams recently – on the field, if not on the board. Favored teams are 10-2 straight-up in wild card games over the last three seasons. At the sportsbooks – and this seems germane with the home teams each laying at least six points this weekend – favorites are a more modest 7-4-1 against the spread.

The 2017 playoffs saw home teams go 4-0 SU and ATS in wild card games. Eighteen of the last 28 wild card games have gone under the posted total, with one push.

The Kansas City Chiefs are listed as 9-point favorites against the Tennessee Titans with a 44-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in a Saturday matchup. The Chiefs are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven playoff games as a favorite, but QB Alex Smith has had a stronger second half of the season than Marcus Mariota, his Titans counterpart.

Tennessee, which is 5-1 ATS in its last six games against the Chiefs, could be compromised offensively if DeMarco Murray (knee) is unable to play and spell off team rushing leader Derrick Henry. The total has gone over in five of the Titans’ last seven games against the Chiefs.

The Los Angeles Rams are 6.5-point betting favorites against the Atlanta Falcons with a 48.5-point total in the late Saturday matchup. The Rams and first-time playoff QB Jared Goff are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 home games. However, Los Angeles, which lost its regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers, is 5-0 SU in its last five games after a loss.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan, whose team is 10-3 ATS in its last 13 night games, will not have his optimal offensive line in front of him as LG Andy Levitre (triceps) is out for the season. The Rams defense, led by DT Aaron Donald, has the third-highest tally of interceptions. The total has gone under in the Falcons’ last five games.

The Jacksonville Jaguars are nine-point betting favorites against the Buffalo Bills with a 39.5-point total in a Sunday matchup between teams that had a combined 26-year playoff drought (since 1999 for the Bills; 2007 for the Jags). The visiting team is 5-1 ATS in the last six games of this matchup, but Buffalo will likely only stand a chance if RB LeSean McCoy (ankle sprain) is healthy enough to play; there is no way he will be 100 percent.

The Jaguars, who are only 4-13 SU in their last 17 home games against teams with winning records, must hope QB Blake Bortles has some recent regression out of his system. The total has gone over in the Bills’ last five games against the Jaguars.

And the New Orleans Saints are listed as seven-point favorites against the Carolina Panthers with a 48-point total in a late Sunday betting matchup. The Panthers and QB Cam Newton are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six tries against the NFC South rival Saints and also boast the NFL’s 28th-ranked passing attack while the Saints are fifth through the air (each team’s pass defense is right in the middle of the rankings).

New Orleans and veteran QB Drew Brees are 6-2 ATS in their last eight games against divisional opponents, as well as 5-0 SU in their last five home playoff games. The total has gone over in six of the Panthers’ last seven games against the Saints. The total has also gone over in five of the Saints’ last six games in the wild card round.

For more info, picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the new OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes, or check it out at OddsShark.libsyn.com.