If you think the Kansas City Chiefs haven’t been looking at how the Indianapolis Colts beat the Denver Broncos then I’d call you crazy.
This is hands down the best match up of the week, and the winner gets to sit atop the AFC West. Here are our five keys to a Broncos victory:
1. Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The Chiefs are the best in the biz at forcing turnovers with their heavy pass rush and a big and physical secondary that matches up well with any receiving core. Not only are the Chiefs creating turnovers, but they’re the best scoring defense in the NFL as well. The Broncos have the second fewest turnovers in the league, but 8 of their 13 turnovers have come in the last three games. Not only do the Broncos have to watch their own turnovers, but they have to force one or two of their own. My secondary prediction is the team who wins the turnover battle will win this game.
2. Build a fortress around Peyton Manning
This goes along with limiting turnovers, but mainly it will be a win if Manning isn’t hobbling off the field on Sunday night. The Chiefs have a league-high 36 sacks with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston combining for 20. Expect them to attack the left side of the offensive line where Chris Clark is lined up. Robert Mathis got his strip sack, which led to a fumble off the blindside. Manning can’t do anything about what he doesn’t see coming. Expect the Chiefs to bring all kinds of delayed blitzes from Hali, and even secondary blitzes on that side.
3. Get Orange Julius involved early
The Chiefs match up well against Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker. Julius Thomas will have to be utilized effectively in the short game to pull defenders off of the other three. Thomas is a big scoring threat (nine touchdowns in nine games), and will be crucial to building a lead early on so that the Chiefs are forced to throw down the stretch.
4. Jamaal Charles awareness
He leads the team in rushing (4.3 per carry) and he has the most receptions (47) on the team. The Broncos boast the fourth-best rush defense in the NFL, and if they’re able to contain Charles then that will force Alex Smith to make deep throws, where he’s not as effective.
5. Use that home field advantage
Sure, the Chiefs had their bye last week and they’re well rested, but a great defense can’t play as effectively if they’re tired. The Broncos have to go no-huddle right off the bat, and use Knowshon Moreno in the receiving game as well.
Prediction: Broncos 33, Chiefs 21