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Dublin: 8°C Tuesday 1 December 2020

The Redzone: Broncos hope to buck Chiefs’ unbeaten run

The AFC West battle is the highlight of a stacked week 11 in the NFL.

Turnovers, like the 101-yard interception Sean Smith made earlier this season, will be key for the Chiefs this weekend.
Turnovers, like the 101-yard interception Sean Smith made earlier this season, will be key for the Chiefs this weekend.
Image: Gary Wiepert/AP/Press Association Images

Kansas City Chiefs @ Denver Broncos (-9.5)

ON PAPER, IT’S quite easy to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Crucially, you need to hit Manning early and often. Not only does this force the future Hall-Of-Famer into quicker throws, but you also increase the risk of him fumbling — he’s already had more this season (7) than he did between 2009-2012.

In real life though, it’s much harder to keep that high-powered offence in check and one thing Kansas can’t do is turn the game into a shootout. So far this season, only one team has managed to outscore Denver and, with the Chiefs averaging just 23.9 points per game compared to the Broncos’ 41.2, this will need to be a defensive slog if Kansas are to remain unbeaten.

For Denver, this is almost a must win if they want home advantage in the playoffs. If the Chiefs pass rush gets to Manning, their 20th ranked run attack will have to step up to the plate against Kansas’ 24th ranked run defence.

Verdict: I’ve a feeling Kansas and Denver will split their two games with home advantage proving key in each. Denver to win the game, Chiefs to beat the spread.

Green Bay Packers @ New York Giants (-5)

We’re getting dangerously close to must win territory for the Packers who are now on their third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien. The third year quarterback few had ever heard of was underwhelming last week, going 24 of 39 for 280 yards, one touchdown and two picks.

Worse still for Tolzien is that the Giants’ 11th ranked pass defence gives up 80 yards less per game than the 31st ranked Eagles he was unable to pick apart last week. However, he does have an extra week to prepare and, this time at least, knows he will get some game time.

For the Giants, despite starting with six losses on the bounce, they somehow find themselves just two games back in the NFC East. They’re helped by the fact they know how to win while playing terribly so don’t be surprised if they sneak into the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Maybe.

Verdict: The Packers are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games as underdogs. Expect that to be 0-5 by the end of the weekend.

New England Patriots @ Carolina Panthers (-1)

The Carolina Panthers have slowly emerged as a real contender this year despite having only the 28th ranked passing offence in the league. With a rush attack that only ranks 10th, the Panthers have instead relied on a stingy defence (12.8 points per game) to get them through.

This will be the Patriots first visit to Carolina since 2005 but they’ll be glad it comes in the second half of the season. Remarkably, since 2010, the Pats are 24-1 in the second half of the season so if you’re considering an accumulator over the next few weeks, make sure you have them in.

To win this game, New England will look to Rob Gronkowski to find the endzone. If he catches a touchdown pass on Monday night, he’ll become Tom Brady’s favourite endzone target with 40, breaking a tie with Randy Moss.

Verdict: Carolina’s success has been built against the run while New England’s threat comes through the air and that will see them through this one.

And the rest

Indianapolis Colts (-2.5) @ Tennessee Titans
New York Jets (ev) @ Buffalo Bills (ev)
Baltimore Ravens @ Chicago Bears (-2.5)
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals (-5.5)
Oakland Raiders @ Houston Texans (-7.5)
Arizona Cardinals (-9) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Washington @ Philadelphia Eagles (-3)
Detroit Lions (-1) @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Atlanta Falcons (ev) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ev)
San Diego Chargers (-1) @ Miami Dolphins
San Francisco 49ers @ New Orleans Saints (-3)
Minnesota Vikings @ Seattle Seahawks (-13)

Note: All teams in italics are picked to beat the spread, not necessarily win the game.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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