By Rick Brown
The Kansas City Chiefs will be spending the last day of 2017 at 5,280 feet as the team travels to the Mile High City to play the Denver Broncos (5-10) on Dec. 31. This will be the Broncos’ last game of the season while the Chiefs will be looking to build momentum heading into the postseason.
Chiefs’ Record (9-6)
The Chiefs have finally won back-to-back AFC West Championships for the first time in the team’s history. So while the Chiefs will only be playing for playoff seeding position, the team can still build up some momentum against a lackluster Broncos team that is ready for the offseason.
This will be the 116th time these two divisional foes have met. In their last meeting at the end of October, the Broncos were badly beaten by the Chiefs in Kansas City, 29-19. Then, the Broncos did a good job of containing Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Alex Smith, but Denver’s starting quarterback Trevor Siemian turned the ball over three times and the Chiefs earned an easy victory. Fans should expect more of the same this time around, even though the Broncos will be starting a different quarterback. Denver is expected to start Paxton Lynch, so the Chiefs defense will definitely have an opportunity to make some plays along the defensive line as well in the secondary. If the Chiefs offense can get up early, look for this to be another blowout.
The Chiefs offense has plenty of weapons, and it shows. The team is ranked 5th in total yards; the passing game is ranked 7th while the rushing game is ranked 9th, and the team is averaging 25.9 points a game, good enough for 6th in the league. While the offense did disappear during Kansas City’s four-game skid in November, it appears as if Smith and company are back on track.
Smith has thrown for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. The team also has soon-to-be All-Pro running back Kareem Hunt. He will finish with more than 1,300 yards rushing and currently has seven rushing touchdowns. To boot, the Chiefs have two receivers with more than a 1,000 yards receiving in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.
The defense, on the other hand, will need to step up in order for the Chiefs to make a deep run into the playoffs.
The Chiefs defense is not playing as well as their offense. The team ranks near the bottom of the league in yards per game, 28th in total yards against, 27th in passing yards against, 23rd in rushing yards against and is allowing 21 points a game, good enough for 16th in the league.
While the Chiefs are explosive, the team also walks the razor’s edge, and if anything goes wrong, they can quickly fold. Although, through the last three weeks, the defense has only allowed an average of 13 points a game and has outscored opponents by at least two scores.
Players To Watch
It has been a long season for the Broncos and the team may just want to pack it up and head home. The Chiefs will be trying to get out of this game with a victory while also mitigating injuries. Look for a heavy dose of the Chiefs’ running game, with Hunt and Charcandrick West putting up some good numbers on the ground. The ground game will create some great opportunities down the field for Kelce and Hill. Smith and the offense should be able to control this game.
On the defensive side of the ball, keep an eye on linebackers, Justin Houston and Chris Jones. These two pass rushers should have an easy time creating pressure on Broncos’ quarterback, Lynch.
Lynch has not panned out for the Broncos and the Chiefs defense will terrorize him all day long. Both teams will be looking to get out of this game without injuries. The Chiefs will try to establish the run early and often while the Broncos will continue to make the same mistakes. Keep an eye out for two turnovers by the Broncos and a lot of missed opportunities. The Chiefs will bring in the New Year with a victory, beating the Broncos 31-9.