After a mini-bye week and a 45-10 decimation of the Arizona Cardinals October 18, the Denver Broncos return to action against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Broncos had what could be considered a crazy week, to say the least. If it wasn’t Chad Kelly mumbling incoherently and being charged with trespassing, the drama behind the scenes embroiling the Bowlen family took center stage.
Our friend, Zac Stevens of BSN confirms where Broncos head coach Vance Joseph squarely has his focus though.
This is obviously the safest and wisest course of action for the Broncos. At 3-4, the Broncos have only played two AFC West divisional games, and they are 1-1 in those. Of course, the loss was to the Chiefs on October 1 at Denver, so if the Broncos want to stay within striking distance of 6-1 Kansas City in the AFC West, this is a game they really have to win.
History has not been on the Broncos’ side at Arrowhead Stadium traditionally as they are only 19-27 there all-time.
They are 19-38 all-time on the road against the Chiefs and their history as the Dallas Texans in the early days and were 0-11 in the series as the road team before the move to Arrowhead Stadium in 1972.
The latest Las Vegas odds have the Chiefs as a 9.5-point favorite so the Broncos have gained half a point since Thursday.
Unlike many people involved with the Broncos in any capacity, I believe in Vance Joseph. I believe that the Broncos-Cardinals game clearly shows that the problems this team had were strictly execution.
No one, except the die hards on Twitter who hate Joseph really had anything bad to say about the Broncos’ performance October 18.
The team, in words with media in Denver throughout the past 10 days, has said the focus is squarely on the Chiefs, notwithstanding the distractions swirling about the team.
Now, something astounding popped out in front of me on the Broncos-Chiefs game notes. By virtue of five forced turnovers against Arizona, the Broncos are now +2 in turnover margin, making them 11th in the NFL.
Of course, the Chiefs are better than that at +4 (7th in the NFL). This is not earth-shattering analysis. This time around, I’ll just get down to brass tacks.
If the Broncos win the turnover battle Sunday, I say they not only beat the spread but win the game outright.
The Chiefs’ offense is spectacular. We know this. They amass 437.4 yards per game (3rd in the NFL). They average an NFL-best 6.9 yards per play and an NFL-best 37.1 points per game.
Signal-caller Patrick Mahomes is completing 64.9 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. The Chiefs are an average team in the NFL with five interceptions, making them 13th in the NFL, slightly above average, to be honest.
That is significant because Mahomes didn’t have any interceptions after the Chiefs’ 27-23 win at Denver on October 1.
Perhaps he’s coming back to the norm slightly. I am a statistician in my real-world career for high school football and basketball. Sometimes, athletes perform well above the curve before “coming back down to earth.”
Mahomes has thrown at least one interception in each of the Chiefs’ last three games, including two apiece against Jacksonville and New England. If the Broncos’ defense can come up with a pick-six, that’s one of those unexpected variables that can upset the apple cart, as it were.
If the Broncos play clean football, there are still plays to be had against this Chiefs defense.
Of course, tailback Kareem Hunt (133 touches, 768 net yards, or 5.8 yards every time he touches the ball, 9 total touchdowns) and speedster Tyreek Hill (51 touches, 680 scrimmage yards,[13.3 yards every time he touches the ball] 7 total touchdowns) give the Broncos’ defense significant challenges.
Kansas City is still statistically the worst defense in the NFL, giving up 435.4 yards per game. With the exception of interceptions (where they tie for ninth in the NFL with 7) and sacks (with 19 they are tied for eighth).
Regrettably for the Broncos, these are two areas where Case Keenum (161 of 254 [completing 63.4 percent of his passes], 1,848 yards, 8 TD’s/9 INT’s) and the Broncos’ offensive line struggled in the first match-up.
Again, I primarily believe this to be an execution problem and the Broncos seem to have put that behind them in the Sonoran Desert.
In short, if the Broncos are to pull off the upset, Keenum must play his cleanest game of the season and the offensive line must as well.
The burden on Phillip Lindsay’s (90 touches, 555 scrimmage yards, three total touchdowns) shoulders grows larger as his fellow rookie tailback Royce Freeman is out for this one as you’ll see in our injury report.
Receiver Emmanuel Sanders (46 receptions, 603 yards, 3 TD’s) has been a stalwart for the Broncos in offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s arsenal. He also threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to fellow receiver Courtland Sutton in the rout of the Cardinals.
Additionally, if he goes over 100 yards receiving against Kansas City, that will be the third week in a he has done so. If he can amass at least 165 all-purpose yards, I like the Broncos’ chances of pulling off the upset.
Our boss, Sayre Bedinger, also has a story on who could be a hidden X-factor for the Broncos in receiver/kick returner Isaiah McKenzie.
The NFL is strange. Perhaps McKenzie, much-maligned in the past and deservedly so, especially in his past against the Chiefs, can turn the tide.
Anyway, this should be an intriguing game if nothing else.
Date: Sunday Oct.28, 2018
Start Time: 11:00 am MT
Location: Arrowhead Stadium
TV Info: CBS (506sports.com for local listings nationwide)
Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analyst), Steve Tasker (sideline reporter)
Our friend, Lynn Worthy, the Chiefs’ beat reporter from the Kansas City Star, has our weekly injury report for this one.
NBC 41 Kansas City meteorologist Lindsey Anderson has the weekend forecast for Kansas City. It looks like pleasant and sunny weather for the Broncos and the Chiefs.
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