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Chiefs defeat Broncos 28-24, stay in contention for AFC’s No. 1 seed

Chris Simms and Mike Florio take a spin through their top bets in the NFL Week 18 regular season finale.

It wasn’t easy, but Kansas City continued its long winning streak over Denver on Saturday with a 28-24 victory.

The Broncos led for much of the game after Kansas City took an early 7-0 lead. But edge rusher Melvin Ingram made the play of the day, forcing his former Chargers teammate Melvin Gordon to fumble near the goal-line in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Nick Bolton picked up the loose ball and ran 86 yards for a touchdown. And with the two-point conversion, Kansas City had a 28-21 lead.

Denver had a shot to tie, but head coach Vic Fangio elected to kick a field goal on fourth-and-9 from the Kansas City 13 with 4:41 left in the contest. Brandon McManus’ 31-yard field goal was good, but the Broncos never got the ball back.

Kansas City’s ensuing drive started with a swing pass from quarterback Patrick Mahomes to receiver Mecole Hardman for 44 yards on the left side. That gave Hardman 103 receiving yards — the first time he’s ever eclipsed 100 yards receiving.

After making the Broncos use all three of their timeouts, Mahomes hit tight end Travis Kelce on third-and-8 from the Denver 17 with a 12-yard pass to move the chains and effectively end the game.

Kelce limped off the field on the last third-down catch. But according to ESPN’s Laura Rutledge, he suffered only a hip tweak on the play. The Chiefs played most of the game without receiver Tyreek Hill, who was dealing with a heel injury, according to Rutledge. He had only one 2-yard catch on three targets.

Darrel Williams also suffered a toe injury and didn’t receive a carry in the second half. But Jerk McKinnon had five carries for 24 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards and a touchdown.

Mahomes finished the game 27-of-44 passing for 270 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He also was the Chiefs’ leading rusher with 54 yards on nine carries.

Kansas City finished with 28 first downs and was 8-of-14 on third down.

The Broncos ran the ball well for much of the game — finishing with 191 yards and 6.8 yards per carry. Gordon had 110 yards on 12 attempts, including a 47-yard touchdown. But his fumble was the key turning point of the second half.

Quarterback Drew Lock had a pair of rushing touchdowns and made a few key throws. But he finished just 12-of-24 passing for 162 yards for an unimpressive stat line.

With the win, the Chiefs will finish no worse than the AFC’s No. 2 seed entering the playoffs next week. They’ll be the No. 1 seed if the Titans lose to the Texans on Sunday. They’ve now defeated the Broncos 13 consecutive times.

Denver ends its season 7-10 and could be on the verge of a coaching change.