For the first time this season, the Kansas City Chiefs will face off against the division rival Denver Broncos. Both teams are coming off of impressive road victories. Meanwhile, the Chiefs enter Sunday with a nine game win streak against the Broncos. Kansas City will need to come out much more aggressive defensively, than their last division game. If not, Denver’s passing attack won’t waste time in testing them deep. With that in mind, we will hit on keys to victory for each team. Let’s get it started.
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Kansas City- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Attack With Quick Passes
This Denver secondary has been playing well, and had two interceptions last week. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson are physical safeties. They can also win by playing multiple positions in the secondary, they can blitz and press at the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, Bryce Callahan is having a bounce back season, after missing most of last year with injury. Rookie Michael Ojemudia is also starting to feel more comfortable as the weeks and weeks go on.
Especially with snow in the forecast, the passing game could need to get back on track. This Broncos secondary is sticky in coverage and does a good job of staying on top of routes. For the Chiefs offense, it would be wise to hit quick passes over the middle or on the outside, and let the speed of these dynamic skill players best the opposing tacklers.
2) Pressure Lock
Drew Lock has been an interesting quarterback during the beginning of his career. Certainly, creating pressure is always going to affect the passer. But with Lock, he becomes even more shaky and goes into a shell if the pressure continues to mount, similar to what we’ve seen a lot from Derek Carr. If that pressure does not resonate, Lock is one of the more fearless passers around the league. We know he won’t wait to go deep, and his ability to throw on the run is also already much improved.
Last week’s game plan from the Chiefs defense was exactly what they needed. Getting back to what they do best, with multiple blitz calls, moving players out of position and disguising multiple looks was important against Buffalo. As long as the Chiefs continue to throw monkey wrenches at the opponent, the Broncos will be more likely to feel uncomfortable and may begin to start pressing.
3) Thunder and Lightning
This week, offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy called the new duo of Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Le’Veon Bell, “a little bit of thunder and lightning.” This is the first game that Bell will be able to suit up for the Chiefs. If I’m Andy Reid, I would not waste any time in getting super creative with both players. Everyone has their own visions of what Bell’s role could be. Nonetheless, Reid will ultimately have plenty of tricks up his sleeve for him. Edwards-Helaire is also coming off of a monster game and he should still be considered as much of the focus. The bottom line is, the Kansas City Chiefs offense should not waste any time in throwing a bunch of different looks with both Edwards-Helaire and Bell together at defenses.
Denver- 3 Keys To Victory
1) Blitz Happy
A big reason as to why the Broncos won last week, was because of the amount of pressure the defense generated. Denver ranks seventh in the NFL in pressure percentage (24.9%). Like Kansas City, they excel by bringing guys from multiple and different gaps or angles. Defensive backs are never out of the question in this area, and the front has really been spectacular without veteran Von Miller. Bradley Chubb is constantly getting to the quarterback, in a big return from last year’s torn ACL. Shelby Harris and the interior defensive linemen alongside of him are also underrated on the inside. The book on Patrick Mahomes says not to blitz. But, the Broncos have had more success against him and the Chiefs in that department, compared to most other teams.
2) Balance Beam
If you did an experiment on the Denver offense, you would see it is a fairly balanced attack. It’s about a 55-45 split, in favor of passing. Some of that has grown, with the healthy return of Lock. This has been a job that has fallen to the wayside for offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He’s done exceptional. Together with Lock, he and the Broncos have really allowed rookie Jerry Jeudy and breakout Tim Patrick to flourish, with Courtland Sutton being injured. On the other hand, Melvin Gordon and Phillip Lindsay have built a fine one-two punch in the rushing attack.
This balanced plan will obviously continue this week against the Chiefs. Kansas City knows they have to be prepared for anything from this confident, young group. If they blink, a home run attempt could go right over their heads.
3) Stop The Run
Last week, the Chiefs set records under Coach Reid with the running game. Combination blocks and pulling action by the new look offensive line got Kansas City going into a new groove. This is a layer they wanted to add to the offense over the last few weeks.
Denver was pretty admirable in this area against the Patriots last week, for the most part. Linebackers Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell have enjoyed quietly strong starts to their campaign. Those two may be counted on heavily once again. Especially if the Chiefs’ blockers dominate like they did last game. If they are able to slow down the Kansas City running game, that will lead to opportunities for the secondary to prove themselves. An environment, that they thrive in under pressure, for sure.
– 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.