The NFL flexed the Sunday showdown for the AFC West lead into prime time, and bookmakers bettors and the pay per head community as a whole saw what a big game it was as the point spread was one of the most volatile of the weekend.
Kansas City opened as 10-point favorites, but by the time the teams kicked off on Sunday night, the action on the Broncos had brought it down to 8.5 points.
At issue has been the Chiefs‘ ability to win football games, but an inability to cover spreads.
Chiefs Defense Comes Up Big
During the initial month of the NFL season, the Kansas City defense exhibited subpar performance, ranking among the weakest in football. This struggle wasn’t limited to the year 2021 alone; it resembled a historically poor defense, and even the presence of star players like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill couldn’t compensate for its deficiencies.
However, a significant turning point occurred after a 38-20 defeat to the Bills in Week 5. Suddenly, the defense started playing exceptionally well. This positive momentum continued following a Week 7 loss to Tennessee, as the team began delivering outstanding performances. Since that game, their opponents have only managed to score an average of 11 points per game, and no team has surpassed 17 points against them.
In three out of their last four victories, the defense effectively limited opposing teams to single-digit scores, including an impressive showing against Denver on Sunday night.
The game began with the Chiefs executing two consecutive three-and-outs, establishing their dominance from the start. Additionally, the Chiefs capitalized on these defensive stops, scoring 10 points and swiftly gaining an advantage in the game.
Furthermore, safety Daniel Sorensen contributed a pick-six, while Juan Thornhill intercepted another pass. Notably, wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick, who recently signed lucrative contract extensions with the Broncos, were effectively neutralized, managing only three receptions for a total of 24 yards.
Broncos Turning Point
The Broncos faced a significant turning point in their game. Despite a challenging start, with a sluggish first quarter and no first downs for the initial 13 minutes, they had a chance to shift the momentum shortly before halftime. Trailing 10-3, Denver embarked on an impressive 20-play, 88-yard drive that consumed over 11 minutes of game time. However, despite their sustained efforts, they were unable to convert the drive into points.
Earlier in the drive, the Broncos had successfully converted on fourth-and-one and fourth-and-seven, showcasing their determination and resolve. But on the crucial 20th play, with the ball positioned at the Kansas City eight-yard-line, they fell short on fourth-and-two.
This proved to be an instance of overaggression. Had they gone into halftime trailing 10-6, having dominated the entire second quarter, their prospects would have remained promising. However, failing to score after such a long and impressive offensive possession deflated the team’s spirit. The entire drive, which had showcased their resilience and determination, became overshadowed by this single failure, and it inflicted significant consequences on the Broncos’ overall performance.
Chiefs Salt Away The Game
The Chiefs effectively secured the victory in the game, demonstrating their dominance in the pay per head. During the second half, they took advantage of a muffed punt, resulting in three points for Kansas City. Moreover, a 30-yard pass to Darrel Williams positioned them for a successful field goal attempt, further extending their lead. The Chiefs’ defense played a vital role in sealing the game by intercepting a pass and returning it for a touchdown, establishing a commanding score of 22-3 in favor of Kansas City.
Despite the Broncos’ efforts, they managed to score a late touchdown through rookie running back Javonte Williams, who stepped up in place of the injured Melvin Gordon. The final score settled at 22-9 in favor of the Chiefs. With this triumph, Kansas City secured the top spot in the AFC West division in the pay per head.
In summary, the Chiefs’ ability to capitalize on significant opportunities, such as the muffed punt, the well-executed passing play, and the defensive interception, played a crucial role in their victory and solidification of their position at the summit of their division in the pay per head.
Power Pay Per Head partners is looking ahead to the next couple of weeks for the Chiefs to gauge where they stand in the AFC pecking order.
They face the Raiders next week in Kansas City, and while that seems like an obvious Chiefs win, Las Vegas did win at Arrowhead just last season. Then it’s a quick Thursday turnaround and a trip to Los Angeles to take on the Chargers.
L.A. is one game behind the Chiefs, but a win on December 16 would give the Chargers the tiebreaker advantage. Then after that, Kansas City is back home to face the Steelers.
The Broncos are now 6-6, but with a game against the Lions next week, they can easily keep themselves in the middle of the playoff race. Then it’s home against a good Bengals team, trips to Las Vegas and L.A. to play the Chargers, and then back home to finish the season with the Chiefs.
But apart from making the playoffs, this offense needs to establish an identity before the season is over. Otherwise, Pat Shurmur is likely to be out as offensive coordinator.