It may be a 12-3 team against a 2-13 team, but this is an important one for both the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. If Houston loses to Indianapolis and the Broncos win, the Broncos secure the No. 1 seed in the AFC. If the Chiefs lose, they secure themselves the No. 1 overall draft pick. The Broncos have 12 or more wins eight times in franchise history. Of the previous seven times, they have gone to the AFC Championship three times and won the Super Bowl two times. The last time these two teams met in week 12, the Broncos beat the Chiefs 17-9. The Chiefs own a 56-48 advantage over the Broncos all-time, but the Broncos have a 32-30 record against the Chiefs when playing in Denver. Kickoff is set for 2:25 p.m. MST on CBS with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts calling the game.
Broncos: Romeo Crennel usually does a pretty good job of throwing Peyton Manning off. In the last meeting, Manning went 22-for-37 for 282 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Broncos didn’t get on the scoreboard until there was 18 seconds left in the first half, and the team put up its lowest point total all season. This was the first game that Knowshon Moreno filled in for Willis McGahee and he had 20 carries for 85 yards. Finding an increasing role in the offense has been tight end Jacob Tamme. He’s actually the key to the Broncos finding out how defenses play them. The Broncos are 2nd in points per game (29.5) and 4th in third down conversions.
Chiefs: The Chiefs have the 3rd best rusher in the league, but that doesn’t matter when you can’t hold onto the ball. For the first time in NFL history, the Chiefs ran for 352 yards (226 yards from Jamaal Charles), and lost 20-13 to the Indianapolis Colts. The team had three turnovers including two in the red zone. Ranked last in points per game (13.9), the Chiefs are also last in red zone touchdown percentage and 1st in turnovers (37). The Chiefs are 5th in rushing, but 31st in passing. In nine games, Brady Quinn had just 2 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Charles ran for 107 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos in week 12.
Broncos: It’s all about stopping the run on Sunday. In the last meeting, the Broncos forced the Chiefs to go 3-for-14 on third down, but Charles still ran up and over the Broncos’ defense. The key to containing Charles is to force the Chiefs to play form behind. With a 2+ touchdown lead in the second half, the Chiefs will be forced to throw. With good pressure, Quinn will make mistakes and the defense can blow this game wide open. The Broncos are 3rd in yards allowed and 1st in third down defense.
Chiefs: The Chiefs’ defense can get stops, they just can’t create turnovers. The turnover margin. That’s how teams have been able to crush the Chiefs’ season. The Chiefs are giving up 25.8 points per game, they have a league low 7 interceptions, and they’re 29th in sacks with 27 on the year. It’s a wonder three of their players made this year’s Pro Bowl roster (Tamba Hali, Eric Berry, and Derrick Johnson). They are 26th against the rush and 9th against the pass.
Broncos: This is a great time for special teams to clean up its act. Trindon Holliday really needs to work on hanging onto the football. He’s fumbled both a punt and a kickoff, and he’s dropped two other punts this season. The Broncos have been able to recover some, but still, it was a fumbled punt that kept the San Francisco 49ers out of the Super Bowl last season. Now is the time to tighten up.
Chiefs: If there’s one positive to the Chiefs having a terrible offense, it’s the fact that punter Dustin Colquitt gets the chance to shine. On Sunday he tied the season record for placing the most punts inside the 20-yard line (42). Arizona Cardinals‘ punter Dave Zastudil then broke the record on Sunday. This is either Colquitt’s or Zastudil’s title to win in week 17. It’s a small consolation prize for being on a 2-13 team and a 5-10 team, respectively.
Broncos: John Fox has done a great job of keeping his team focused all season. Now the Super Bowl favorites, Fox is keeping it business as usual and not letting the hype get in. With a win on Sunday, Fox will have 100-career victories (including post season) which will make him the 40th coach to hit such a mark.
Chiefs: Romeo Crennel is likely coaching his last game with the Chiefs, and his goal is to do it from the sideline. Wait, isn’t that where a head coach is supposed to stand? Life his team, Crennel was in pain. He had fluid drained from his knee Wednesday and is now on crutches.
Prediction: Broncos – 28 Chiefs- 12