By Rich Kurtzman
The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos are long-standing AFC West rivals. So, really, there’s no need for any added incentive to win. But when you start off the season by getting thrashed at home by a seemingly weaker opponent, it helps fuel the fire a bit.
The Chiefs kicked off their season against the Tennessee Titans in Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and were trounced 26-10. But, what happened to the team that bounced back to 11-5 last season? How were they beaten so handily?
A combination of poor play, injuries and suspensions did Kansas City in.
Alex Smith clearly missed suspended receiver Dwayne Bowe, as the KC quarterback threw for merely 202 yards and one score with three interceptions. Turnover differential is one of the most consistent indicators of success in the NFL, and the Titans were a plus-three on Sunday. Smith can be a very good quarterback – not considered elite, but solid – when he gets everything going. When he’s put under pressure, he can become rattled in a hurry and turn the ball over. No doubt Denver will look to put Smith under duress this Sunday.
Surprisingly, the Chiefs’ biggest playmaker in Jamaal Charles was extremely limited in his production against Tennessee, too. Charles only saw seven runs for a mere 19 yards; that 2.7 yards per carry average is a far cry from his career average of 5.6. The Broncos will have to focus on stopping Charles, who will be extremely hungry to have a great day running the rock. Denver did very well in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, limiting them to a tiny total of 54 yards on the ground.
On defense, Kansas City looked to rely upon playmaking linebacker Derrick Johnson, who injured his Achilles tendon and the Titans took advantage repeatedly. Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker – who’s only middle of the road – went 22-33 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. If those numbers are any indication, Denver’s elite QB Peyton Manning and his accomplished receiving corps will have a huge day in the Mile High City against KC Sunday.
That Chiefs defense gave up 23 unanswered points to Tennessee and the Broncos scored 24 straight to start their game against the Colts; it could get ugly for Kansas City and in a hurry when Manning starts calling “Omaha!”
Denver lost only one game at home last season on their way to Super Bowl XLVIII and they’ll look to protect their home turf again this week as the Broncos look to make it back to the NFL’s championship game.
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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. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.