The Denver Broncos (3-5) are on the road again this week to take on the Kansas City Chiefs (4-4). With a win, the Broncos could move into a tie for second place in the AFC West. They are looking to win their second game in a row which has not been done since 2009. This is the first meeting of the season between these divisional rivals. The teams split last year’s meetings. The Chiefs have a 55-46 advantage over the Broncos all time, and they hold a distinct advantage at Arrowhead (36-14). Kickoff is set for 11:00 am MT.
Broncos: The read option blew the Raiders out of the water last week, but the Chiefs have had a full week to prepare for the Broncos new attack. Willis McGahee is that much healthier and Tim Tebow has some confidence under his belt. Now is the time for the team’s passing game to step up. Tebow has just a 46.4% completion percentage and this is the game to bump that number up. The Chiefs are 21st against the pass, but that doesn’t mean that Tebow can take the secondary lightly. They are 3rd in interceptions. To put it simply, if his passes are on target, the Chiefs’ secondary doesn’t stand a chance. If they’re off, it’s almost a guarantee interception. The offensive line did a great job last week protecting Tebow and creating gaps for the run game. The O-line is essential this week as well.
Chiefs: You stop the Chiefs offense by getting to Matt Cassel. In their 31-3 loss to the Dolphins last week, the Phins’ sacked Cassel five times and forced him to scramble nine times. They are 10th in rushing despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season in week 2. Jackie Battle has been able to step in, and with Thomas Jones and Dexter McCluster complimenting him, the Chiefs are still a very good running team. The passing game is ranked 27th. It’s not like the Chiefs are incapable of protecting Cassel. Prior to week 9, the Chiefs gave up just 13 sacks in the first 8 weeks, which was tied for 6th best in the league. Cassel has Dwayne Bowe as a deep threat. Steve Breaston is another good receiving threat. The Chiefs’ inability to get the passing game off the ground is all on Cassel. Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller could have a field day.
Broncos: The Broncos are giving up 28.0 points per game which is 31st in the league. They are 15th in rush defense and 23rd in pass defense. The Chiefs are known for some of their gimmicky plays. They’ll line McCluster up as a receiver and even throw in some Wildcat in there. The Broncos have to be prepared for those types of things. The big matchup to watch will be Champ Bailey versus Dwayne Bowe. They had some epic battles last season with Bowe winning meeting No. 1 when he had 186 receiving yards and 2 TDs. Bailey won meetng No. 2 where Bowe didn’t even have a catch.
Chiefs: It’s all about stopping the Tebow train for the Chiefs. If they apply pressure to the QB and contain his run, it will be hard for the Broncos offense to get off the ground. The Chiefs’ defense isn’t much better than the Broncos, giving up 25.1 points per game. They are 18th in rush defense and 21st in pass defense. Their pass rush has been extremely weak. They are last in the league in sacks with just 9 all season. Derrick Johnson is leading the team in tackles, Tamba Hali is the team’s leader in sacks with 6 on the year, and Brandon Flowers has the most interceptions with 4. Just like their record might indicate, the Chiefs have had great defensive games (holding the Raiders to 0 points), but they’ve also blown some (giving up 31 points to the Dolphins).
Broncos: It’s the battle of the Colquitt brothers. Britton Colquitt leads the AFC West in punting and has 3 games averaging 50 or more yards on 6+ punts which is the most in team history.
Chiefs: Britton’s brother, Dustin, who also punted for Tennessee is averaging 46.7 yards per punt on the year. The Chiefs have Ryan Succop kicking and his 11-for-14 on field goals. Dexter McCluster is a dangerous return man.
Broncos: John Fox will visit Arrowhead for the first time as head coach of the Broncos. His team is coming off of an emotional win and they are trying to gain some momentum at the right time. The team’s coaching staff is constantly in a chess match, trying to figure out how to best utilize Tebow, and outsmart opposing defenses and their adjustments. A win here during one of the most difficult times in the Broncos schedule would be huge.
Chiefs: Todd Haley won’t be running off the field waving a finger at John Fox like he did with Josh McDaniels. Haley’s team had an emotional Monday Night win against the Chargers and then over worked his team to the point where they got crushed by the Dolphins. He gave his team two days off this week to recover from playing two games in six days. Let’s see if that’s enough to beat a charged Broncos team.
Prediction: Broncos – 27 Chiefs – 17.