The Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos have seen opposite results in the last two weeks. Entering this Thursday night matchup, the Chiefs have lost two straight while the Broncos have won two consecutive games. This will be the first meeting of the year between these two AFC West rivals. For Kansas City this game will be their second of six total division contests. Meanwhile, Denver will be playing their third of six such games. Now let’s get things started with our preview of Chiefs versus Broncos.
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Playing With Urgency
Against the Texans, the Chiefs offense look to be back on track early on. They were letting Patrick Mahomes move the pocket and the screen passes were slicing up the Houston defense. Mahomes’ connection with Tyreek Hill was also working like it never left. The running game even found some success. What derailed that though?
It looked as if the offense was trying to be too cute or not aggressive enough once things got tough. We saw Mahomes throw his first interception of the year. Granted there was an awkward penalty that turned into a no call against Travis Kelce, the reported target on that play. However, the interception stood and the Texans drove down the field on the succeeding drive for a touchdown. I also don’t understand why the Chiefs didn’t take a knee to go into the half, on a play where Mahomes was hit and fumbled. Despite hardly possessing the ball in the second half, Kansas City struggled to move the ball and looked stuck. The Chiefs don’t just need to play with a bigger sense of urgency, rather we should see them attempt to play and coach smarter and simpler against the Broncos.
Stop The Run
Once again, we have to talk about stopping the run. As Frank Clark mentioned after the Houston loss, “we are making every running back we play look awesome.” Clark then went on to talk about the team needing to “get back to their aggression, our passion for stopping the run.” Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman don’t project as an easier foe in that regard. To boot, the Broncos are eighth in rushing attempts and fourteenth in rushing yards per game so far.
Where do Lindsay and Freeman find success? For Lindsay, he seems to win the most out in space with his speed. However with his lighter frame and quick cuts, the former Colorado Buffalo can also create big bursts in between the tackles. In addition, Freeman has more of a bruising style. His speed is underrated, but most of all, he takes pride in making tacklers miss. The Chiefs will need to do all they can to provide a consistent, major push up front in order to stop these Broncos runners. Most importantly, the defense will need to get off the field more so than the last few weeks.
Change the Guard
We talked last week about the Chiefs needing to get the running game going offensively. I’m unsure if it’s due to the offensive line injuries or the depth of the running backs, but it feels like Andy Reid has no constant plan for the running game. Obviously, the offense doesn’t need to change completely. Though if there are no adjustments or tweaks, Mahomes and company are forced to be perfect during tight, pressure packed situations.
Just look towards last week’s second half. The play call of a quick swing pass to De’Anthony Thomas was questionable. Follow that up with a failed four verts call, and hardly any time ticked off the clock for the defense to regain their breaths and Kansas City had to punt. This week, the Chiefs could possibly look to sustain longer drives against the Broncos. Also don’t be afraid to take singles that are there for the taking, compared to swinging for the fences on every shot.
Give Flacco Flak
Reverting back to the defense, Joe Flacco is an opposing quarterback who on paper, the Chiefs should fare well against. Flacco has not shown much consistency in going down the field very often in his career. That has continued this year. Flacco’s bread and butter is beating defenses with quick short throws in between defenders. Where Kansas City has had some defensive success, has been in pass coverage. In the last two weeks, the defensive backs have been the defense’s best players. That’s not saying Deshaun Watson didn’t have a strong outing on Sunday, but this group has shown the most improvement and energy. Don’t put it past the Chiefs secondary to create more takeaways in this game. Overall, they have six interceptions on the season, including three in the last two games. Force Flacco to get burned by throwing against looks that he likes to see the most.
Matchup To Watch: Chiefs Receivers vs Broncos Secondary
Entering this meeting, the Broncos are ranked fourth in pass defense. Denver also forced three interceptions last week against the Titans. As a result, the Broncos held Tennessee to a dismal showing and shut them out. The Chiefs do have Tyreek Hill back now. But as well as he did in his return, the rest of the receiving core was largely unsuccessful. Demarcus Robinson did not make one catch and the team missed Sammy Watkins due to an injury. The Chiefs receivers took a long time to get going against the Broncos in Denver last year. This time around, they’ll have to get into a groove often against the likes of Chris Harris Jr, Kareem Jackson, Justin Simmons and others.
Mahomes already has a career record of 3-0 against the Broncos. In those three starts, Kansas City is averaging 28 points per game with the reigning MVP running the show.
Despite wins in their last two games, Denver scored 20 and 16 points respectively in those two outings. Believe it or not, the Broncos have scored fewer than 25 points in 15 consecutive games. That is currently the longest active streak in the NFL.
The Chiefs have not lost to the Broncos since Peyton Manning was the quarterback in Mile High. If the Chiefs win Thursday night, that would be a franchise record 8th straight win over the Broncos.
Dating back to 1960, Kansas City is 63-54 when going head to head with this division rival.
That will conclude our preview for Thursday night’s game between the Chiefs and Broncos. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.