The summer walk-through of the Kansas City Chiefs schedule continues today with a look at their Week 12 home game against the Denver Broncos. Please see the link at the bottom of the page for the previous 11 game previews.
Even though this game is on November 25 it will be the first time the Chiefs & Broncos have hooked up in 2012, with the season finale being in Denver. This is a good schedule spot for the Broncos. While they are coming off what’s currently expected to be a nationally televised game against the San Diego Chargers at home, the following week is a home date with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Peyton Manning and his teammates aren’t in the kind of sandwich spot that invites a look-ahead. For their part, while the Chiefs come off a difficult home game with the Cincinnati Bengals, this is the middle round of a three-game home stretch that will likely determine the Kansas City season. It’s unlikely either team will get looking ahead or be out of gas.
While Manning’s first visit to Kansas City as a Bronco will draw the media attention, the matchup to watch is the battle between Kansas City offensive tackle Eric Winston and Denver defensive end Elvis Dumervil. The Broncos’ best chance to succeed defensively is to pressure Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassell into mistakes. If Winston locks down Dumervil by himself—and I think he will–the Chiefs can focus their attention on linebacker Von Miller. Given that I believe Kansas City can establish the ground game, if they also take away the Broncos’ ability to pressure the quarterback, then the tempo of the game is firmly in Kansas City hands.
As we evaluate this game in early July I’m assuming that Manning will be healthy and be smoothly integrated into the offense by the time November 25 rolls around. I believe that, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. And even if Manning is healthy, the Broncos still lack a consistent deep threat to stretch the field. Eric Decker is more of a possession guy, while Demaryius Thomas lacks the consistency. While the Kansas City corners are not exactly a team strength, Denver’s personnel is not ideally suited to exploit this.
In short, this is a game Kansas City must win if they expect to compete for the AFC West title and the personnel is there to do it on their homefield.
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