It has been a long time since the heated rivalry games between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs determined playoff relevance, but suddenly it has become the matchup of the year to date. As a consequence, the division rivals first meeting in Week 11 has officially been moved to prime time on Sunday Night Football – where it should be.
Diametrically opposed, these two teams are going to perfectly clash. The Chiefs are a defensively led team that ranks in the top ten of almost every defensive statistic allowing only 12.1 points per game, while the Broncos rank in the top 10 of every offensive statistical category scoring 42.9 per game. The winner just may be decided by which team’s lesser half performs better.
On paper, the Chiefs are the perfect defense to slow Peyton Manning and his cadre of talented receivers. They have recorded nine more sacks than any other team in the NFL and have elite players in the secondary with Brandon Flowers and Eric Berry. However, their offense leaves a lot to be desired, reaching the 30-point mark only once this season.
The key of the Chiefs offense is running back Jamaal Charles. He leads the team in rushing as well as receiving and is really their best player, but he will have a tough match-up against the speed of the Broncos defense that ranks third in the league against the rush. If The Chiefs have any hope of winning, their offense, and especially quarterback Alex Smith, must find ways to stretch the field and try to score more efficiently.
As strong as the Chiefs defense is, the Broncos have only been held under 40 points twice, Smith is going to have to throw to win which could likely lead to turnovers against an aggressive Broncos’ secondary that leads the league with 13 interceptions.
It will be interesting to see if head coach Andy Reid attempts to open the play book a little more this week against the Buffalo Bills in hopes of finding big plays in the passing game to build off of during their bye week before the Broncos game. Smith has yet to throw for 300 yards in a game and averages only six yards per completion. It would be a huge momentum-gaining performance for the Chiefs if Smith is able to more effectively move the ball through the air this week.
The Chiefs are a mentally tough team that has survived a lot of close games this season, even if the Broncos look slightly better on paper, this game is going to be an extremely hard-fought game that will require near perfect execution to win. Finally the AFC West is back to being one of the best divisions in football.
Written by John Spina. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter @jsspina24.