Thursday Night Football odds: Broncos vs. Chiefs picks, optimal predictions from expert who's 5-1 on Denver games

The Denver Broncos will try to continue their unlikely turnaround when they host the rival Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football at Empower Field at Mile High. The Broncos (2-4) started the season losing four straight games, and eight overall dating to last season, but have bounced back with two consecutive wins. Denver has an opportunity to get back into the AFC West race with a victory over division-leading Kansas City on Thursday night. The Broncos catch a Chiefs (4-2) team at the perfect time. After looking unbeatable to start the season, Kansas City has lost the last two weeks to the Colts and Texans. Kickoff is set for 8:20 p.m. ET. Kansas City is a three-point favorite in the latest Broncos vs. Chiefs odds, and the over-under for total points scored is 49.5 after falling as low as 48. Before you make any Chiefs vs. Broncos picks, you need to see who SportsLine's resident Denver expert, Larry Hartstein, is picking.

A former lead writer for Covers and The Linemakers, Hartstein combines a vast network of Vegas sources with an analytical approach he honed while working for Pro Football Focus. Last year, he went 61-47 on all of his NFL picks, and he's even hotter this year, going 24-11 with his NFL picks against the spread. In addition, Hartstein is a stunning 5-1 in his last six against the spread picks involving the Broncos. Anyone who has followed him is way up.

Now, Hartstein has locked in on Chiefs vs. Broncos on Thursday Night Football. He's sharing his pick only at SportsLine.

Hartstein knows that Denver has not faced a team with the offensive weapons of Kansas City. Three Chiefs who were named to last season's Pro Bowl -- reigning MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes, receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce -- will suit up for Kansas City offense's on Thursday. The Broncos' two wins came over two teams -- the Chargers (20.0 points per game) and Titans (16.3) -- who rank 22nd and 28th in the league in scoring offense, respectively. The Chiefs (28.7) rank fifth.

Hartstein also has taken into consideration that Kansas City has owned the Broncos over the last four seasons. In fact, the Chiefs have won seven straight games against Denver. Their last loss in the series came in September 2015.

Even so, Kansas City isn't guaranteed to cover the Chiefs vs. Broncos spread on Thursday Night Football.

Denver is playing winning defense right now. During the team's two-game winning streak, the Broncos allowed opponents an average of 225.0 yards per game and 6.5 points. In Sunday's shutout of the Titans, Denver held Tennessee to 39 rushing yards, 3.3 net yards per play and 2-of-14 on third downs.

In addition the Broncos will face a Chiefs defense that has struggled stopping the run. Kansas City is allowing 161.8 rushing yards per game, and only the Dolphins and Bengals have been worse this season. That bodes well for a Denver offense that ranks 14th in the NFL in rushing at 116.0 yards per game.

We can tell you Hartstein is leaning Under, but his much stronger play is on the spread. He says a critical x-factor makes one side of this spread a must-back. You can only see what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.

So who wins Broncos vs. Chiefs? And what critical x-factor makes one side of the spread hit hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Broncos vs. Chiefs spread to jump on Thursday, all from the expert who is 5-1 on Denver games.

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