By Rich Kurtzman
If there were ever a prime example of two teams heading in polar opposite directions, it’s the Chiefs and Broncos.
Denver has dominated their division, going a perfect 5-0 while winning by an average of 12 points per game against the AFC West; Kansas City is 0-5. The Broncos’ current 10-game winning streak is the longest of the NFL this year and it was jump-started by a 24-point comeback win over San Diego in Week Six, while the Chiefs ride a three-game losing streak. Ironically, one of Denver’s most difficult contests on the win streak was in Kansas City a month ago; it was a gritty game that the Broncos found a way to win in the end.
Neither team was spectacular offensively, but the Chiefs controlled the game and clock by employing their ground-and-pound style. It was quite effective – Kansas City ran up a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and they led again 9-7 just after half before eventually losing 17-9. The fact that the Chiefs were in the game was amazing considering just how bad they’ve been, and how great the Broncos have played, and it was all thanks to running the rock.
Jamaal Charles dipped, dashed and dove his way for 107 total yards on 23 carries, slashing the Denver defense for solid gains and a 4.7 yard per carry average. The remarkable running back used his speed to find holes and carry the offense down the field, though he was unable to push Kansas City into the end zone. He wasn’t the only one though, Dexter McCluster busted off a 19-yard run in the third quarter, and Peyton Hillis was even able to gain positive yards on his few carries.
In all, the Chiefs ran for 148 yards in the Week 12 loss, which is far and away the most the Broncos have given up on their winning streak. To wit, Denver’s defense has allowed a paltry 76.4 yards per game on the ground during the streak – the only team to go over the century mark was, you guessed it, Kansas City.
For that reason, the Chiefs’ fifth-best rushing offense must be the focus of the Denver D this Sunday. Slowing down the run will likely grind Kansas City’s offense to a halt, forcing Brady Quinn to throw more times than he’s comfortable.
Quinn, the former Broncos backup quarterback, has enjoyed decent success as of late, averaging 218 yards passing while throwing two touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. He’s turnover prone, meaning if the Broncos can even slow down that rushing attack a bit – while putting up points on offense – interceptions will be quick to come Denver’s way. The Chiefs allow 25.8 points per game, while the Broncos put up a second-best 29.5 – scoring should not be difficult for Denver this week.
While it may seem like the Chiefs have little to play for at 2-13, they’ll make sure this division rivalry game isn’t a cake walk, even if all the statistics say the Broncos should win easily.
The game kicks off at 2:25 MT and can be seen on CBS.
For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Broncos news, see CBS Sports Denver.
Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.