By Rick Brown
Monday, Oct. 30 will mark the 114th time the Denver Broncos (3-3) will play the Kansas City Chiefs (4-2). The Chiefs lead the series, 59-55, and won the last three meetings. Currently, the Broncos are heading in the wrong direction as the team was shut out last week 21-0 against the Los Angeles Chargers (3-4). The Chiefs are also coming off a Week 7 loss, as they fell 31-30 to the Raiders after Oakland had four attempts to score on the last play of the game.
After the first four games of the season, there was a lot of hype about each of these teams. Since week 5, both the Broncos and the Chiefs have gone a combined 2-4, and both are facing major issues on offense and defense.
Kansas City Chiefs
These two teams could be mirror images of each other. The Broncos have one of the best defenses in the league while their offense ranks near the bottom. The Chiefs have one of the best offenses in the league and their defense ranks near the bottom of the league. Chiefs’ starting quarterback Alex Smith is playing at a MVP level and has a stockpile of weapons at his disposal. Aside from Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the addition of Kareem Hunt has made the Chiefs offense second in the league in yards per game. This team is also second in the league in scoring.
The Chiefs made some questionable additions during the offseason. During the draft, they traded up to select rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but starting quarterback Alex Smith refuses to give up without a fight. Smith has responded by throwing for 1,979 yards—second in the league—along with 15 touchdowns, tied for third most in the league.
The Chiefs’ third-round pick out of Toledo, Kareem Hunt, was another risky call. Hunt had a plethora of red flags coming out of college, but now leads the league in rushing with 717 and a 5.8 yards/rush average, along with averaging 102 rushing yards per game. It’s safe to say this gamble is paying off for the Chiefs.
Now opposing defenses have to account for Kelce, Hunt and Tyreek Hill. The Broncos defense is going to have its hands full on Monday night.
The Chiefs have plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball; Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston and Dee Ford can terrorize teams’ offensive lines, while the secondary is led by Marcus Peters and Daniel Sorensen. That said, Kansas City’s performance is not matching the talent on the field.
The defense ranks 30th overall, 28th in passing yards against, and 25th against the run. The Chiefs defense is 19th in points against, giving up 23 points a game. The unit lost Eric Berry to a season-ending injury during the season opener, but it is hard to diagnose why this defense is not performing well. All this talk about an amazing offense may actually be the only reason the Chiefs can stay in games. K.C. is full of talent, and the defense may have a hay day against the Broncos offense.
Players To Watch
Last week against the Chargers, the Broncos offense allowed five sacks and could not score any points. A series of injuries along the offensive line caused a lot of problems for Trevor Siemian and the Broncos offense. Even if starting Broncos tackle Menelik Watson does return, he is going to have to compete against a feisty bunch of Kansas City linebackers. The Chiefs defense is looking to make a statement this game, so look for Justin Houston, Dee Ford and Derrick Johnson to rack up a few sacks.
The Broncos’ secondary does not cover tight ends well. When Denver released T.J. Ward, it was with the intention that new safety Justin Simmons would be a faster addition to the team. While Simmons has played well, the Broncos will need a lot of help to stop Kelce. Last year in two games, Kelce caught 27 balls for 261 yards. The Broncos also have issues with Hill’s speed, so look for the Chiefs to run the offense through these two players.
The Chiefs are 12-1 against the AFC West and had won 12 divisional games in a row. Last week’s game against the Raiders was a complete fluke, and unless the Broncos can score fast, the Chiefs are too talented a team to lose to Denver. The K.C. offense will prove to be too much; look for the Chiefs defense to finally come to life against a putrid Broncos offense. Expect the Chiefs to take a demanding lead in the AFC West when the team beats the Broncos 37-10 on Monday night.