Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos
Date and Time: Sunday, December 31, 2017, 4:25 p.m. ET
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, CO
Opening NFL Odds: Chiefs -3
Broncos vs. Chiefs TV Coverage: CBS
When the Chiefs won the AFC West last week, they knew that they were locked into the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. Andy Reid treated the moment with jest and came out for his postgame press conference dressed like Santa Claus. Now, he's going to have to try and get his rookie quarterback ready for the biggest moment of his career.
There's no reason to risk Alex Smith in this game, and even if he does start, he almost certainly won't finish the affair. Patrick Mahomes is the one first-round draft choice who has yet to see any playing time. These snaps under center he takes in this game will be his first in his career.
We'll have to see how much the rest of Kansas City's stars play. Travis Kelce has been banged up this year but has yet to miss a game. He already has a 1,000-yard season locked up, so there's a good chance he doesn't play at all. Tyreek Hill is already over 1,000 yards as well, and he could probably benefit from avoiding all of the hits that come with this week.
But the real question is Kareem Hunt. He has 1,292 yards on the ground already and has touched the ball 324 times in his rookie season. If Hunt doesn't give it a full go, Charcandrick West could end up being the beneficiary of the extra carries.
Denver won a couple games in a row against the Jets and Colts, but they were embarrassed last week in Washington 27-11.
The headliner from Week 16 was Vance Joseph saying that Paxton Lynch will play as the starting quarterback as soon as he's healthy. He wasn't ready for the game in Washington, but will he be ready for the finale against Kansas City? You'd like to think that he will considering the fact that the team hasn't put him on injured reserve as of yet and will surely like to see a little bit of what he has in his second season in the NFL.
You only need to look at the betting line movement in this game to know where bettors are going. With the Chiefs having nothing to play for and very likely allowing Mahomes to have some serious playing time for the first time in his career, all of the betting action was on Denver in the first 15 minutes of betting action.
It only took a few minutes to push the Broncos from +3 to -3, and the total subsequently dropped a couple points from 41 to 39.
This type of line movement is only seen in Week 17 of the season, but it's totally justifiable at this point. All of the best NFL sportsbooks realize that they made a mistake with this game, and they're going to hope the Chiefs bail them out.
Chiefs vs. Broncos Free Picks
As much as we know the line movement in this game has been correct, we still can't trust the Broncos at our favorite NFL sportsbooks. They're just 4-10-1 ATS this season and haven't looked good at all offensively.
Sure, Mahomes may struggle in this game, but is he really all that much worse than Lynch? We're not sure.
The Chiefs will want to be careful to not put Mahomes into a situation where he could struggle mightily. That might mean giving him a few reps with most of the rest of the starters just to get him off on the right foot. If that's what happens, we'll take the points against a team that also has no motivation to do anything in Week 17.
NFL ATS Pick: Chiefs +3 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Chiefs 16, Broncos 14