The Chiefs defeated the Broncos at home on Sunday, 30-23, to complete the season sweep. It was not an easy win by any means, but the Chiefs made plays when it mattered most. That is the focus of today’s recap. I will touch on the offense and defense for Kansas City and the coaching decisions made by both teams. Let’s get started with this Chiefs-Broncos recap.
Chiefs Offense – Slow Start
The first drive for Patrick Mahomes and Co. gained zero yards. Then, the Chiefs offense began their second drive trailing at home for the first time this season. They were able to cut the Denver lead to 7-3, with a field goal. However, it is disappointing because the Chiefs were so close to hitting the end zone.
With 1st and goal at the three-yard line, Chris Conley jumped early for a false start. There were a couple of other miscues following that penalty. A rare drop by Travis Kelce would have been a touchdown, and Mahomes had an uncharacteristic habit of throwing the ball late. Kareem Hunt was open off the play-action bootleg, and by the time Mahomes got the ball to Hunt, he caught it for just a yard and barely had any room inside the boundary. That was a walk-in touchdown for Hunt if the ball gets there sooner. Good job by the Chiefs to be aggressive on 4th and goal to try and tie the game up, but another penalty forced the Chiefs to settle for a field goal.
Chiefs Offense – Confusing the Broncos D
After that chip shot field goal, the Chiefs offense was clicking for the next two quarters. The RPO slant is just too easy for Mahomes to hit Tyreek Hill quickly with Hill doing the rest after the catch to move the chains. The creativity of Andy Reid‘s playbook left open receivers both in the middle of the field and down in the flats. Simple crossing routes gashed the Broncos defense and led to three of Mahomes four touchdown passes.
The Broncos were left having to choose who to target defensively, and that compromised their ability to cover everybody. Sammy Watkins had his biggest game as a Chief yet, catching eight passes and recording a multi-touchdown performance. When the Chiefs have the ability to lean on a different weapon week after week, defenses have to play perfectly against them. So, when it mattered most the Chiefs pushed the gas peddle and tired the Broncos defense. The Chiefs scored touchdowns on four straight drives which made it too difficult for the opposing offense to overcome.
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Chiefs Defense – The Bad
First, we will look at where the Chiefs defense struggled. Overall it was an average performance, but the bad things have remained mostly consistent for Kansas City’s defense. The run defense was shredded by the likes of Phillip Lindsay, as the Chiefs continue to miss tackles at the point of attack. Yes, there were some plays throughout the game where the Chiefs stopped Lindsay, but the defense needs to continue to get better at this. It mostly comes down to angles. The weak side linebacker gets sucked in, across his side, and too often the back is able to take one sharp cut and pick up at least five yards with ease. When teams run sweeps, the outside linebackers are getting sealed and the inside linebackers are not taking good enough angles. It’s just so easy to run sideline to sideline against the Chiefs defense.
Chiefs Defense – The Good
When it has mattered most, the Chiefs defense has been able to get off of the field. This was mostly due to the pass rush succeeding during those key moments. There may be only a few players across the NFL that are performing better than Dee Ford right now. Being a contract year for him, Ford really needed to have a season like this. So far, he has continuously come up big when the defense needs him. Ford had two strip sacks in this game, once again, occurring when it mattered the most – following a Mahomes interception. On the other strip sack, Ford made the play, even though the lineman attempting to block him was called for holding. Breeland Speaks was then able to recover that fumble. Overall, the Chiefs defense sacked Case Keenum five times and came up with two takeaways in back to back Denver drives.
Kendall Fuller and Speaks had, without question, their best games of the season. We also can’t forget the tackle for loss made by Tanoh Kpassagnon on an end around attempt early. In result, the six-yard loss forced Denver to attempt a long field goal, which they missed. Big time change in momentum right there. When it mattered most, the defense made enough stops late, once the offense stalled at the end of the game.
Questions for the Coaching Staffs
First off for Kansas City, when is it time to decrease the role of Ron Parker?
Ron Parker was caught flat-footed, as he has been throughout the season, and was beat for a touchdown right before the half. Parker has struggled to provide a top on the defense in pass coverage, and on run plays in this game, he was driven back too many times. Again no attack provided. Yes, Eric Murray is back and healthy, but Jordan Lucas had hardly made any mistakes the last few games, yet he only played a third of the snaps in this game. So again, when does Parker’s role change, he played in all of the snaps on defense, but the impact is minimal.
Another one for Kansas City, but less of a concern right now, why not feed Kareem Hunt more in the second half?
Obviously, it’s relieving to have found a franchise quarterback in Mahomes. But, it always feels like there is a lot to be desired in each game for Kareem. The running game has been working well, and Hunt is a back they can lean on to kill the clock in tight games like this. The biggest reason I am thinking this is because of last year’s Wild Card round loss to the Titans. After he finished last season as the leading rusher, Hunt only received eleven carries and had five total touches in the second half. The Chiefs led at halftime 21-3, didn’t score in the second half and lost 22-21. This game against Denver, Hunt only had seven touches after the Chiefs scored their final touchdown. Denver made it interesting at the end. In result, feed the man that no one can bring down when defenses have to stop you.
The only question I have for Denver, why is Case Keenum throwing thirty-four times?
I understand Denver was losing in the second half, but the Broncos had success with the running game early and often. The more they would have run, the more time they would have kept Mahomes and Co. on the sidelines. With that game plan early, it took the Chiefs until five minutes into the second quarter to reach the end zone for the first time. The game plan has continued to hurt Denver this season, as a result they are now 3-5 on the season.
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