What do the Denver Broncos need to do to upend the Kansas City Chiefs in 2020?
The Chiefs are the defending champions and will likely be heavy favorites to win the AFC West division when the 2020 season kicks off. But the argument can be made that the team inside the division that is next best would be the Broncos.
Still, there seems to be a considerable gap in terms of talent between the two teams.
The Chiefs are an offensive juggernaut with the best quarterback in the game on their roster and with the addition of first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire, there is a feeling they can be even better. They aren't too shabby on defense either.
But their recent dominance over the Broncos gives them an even bigger advantage.
The Broncos have not beaten the Chiefs since September 2015 and have won the last nine meetings between the teams. Though many of those contests have been close, the Chiefs beat the Broncos by a total score of 53-9 in two games last year, and they did that without Patrick Mahomes for most of one of those.
The Broncos are a trendy pick to win one of the AFC's Wild Card spots this coming season, but to be a true contender to win it all again, they must find a way to end this losing streak against their divisional rival.
After losing nine straight games against one team, it's just as much of a mental battle as it is anything else.
Here, we will take a look at three things the Broncos will need to do in order to possibly end this streak this coming season. This is a talented Chiefs squad and there are things that the Broncos or any other team just aren't going to be able to stop, but there are other areas where an advantage could be gained and the tide could start to turn.
Travis Kelce needs to be contained
The Broncos can't effectively cover tight ends. That's nothing new and it really seems like banging your head against the wall when you talk about this as it has been the case for what seems like years.
But the situation really rears its ugly head when the Broncos go up against a guy like Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce. Now, of course, Kelce is a great player, but he dominates the Broncos on a regular basis.
Just in the time that the Chiefs have gone on this huge winning streak over Denver, Kelce has caught 65 passes for 673 yards and four touchdowns in the games played between the teams. He's done that in just eight games. That is ridiculous.
That translates to an average of just over eight receptions and 84 yards per game and a touchdown in every other meeting. It's safe to say that Kelce likes playing against the Broncos.
The Chiefs have weapons all over the field and Mahomes has many solid options to go to with the football, that's how they have climbed to the top of the league. But Kelce is the one weapon the Broncos need to find a way to take away.
Whether it be Alexander Johnson, Justin Simmons, Kareem Jackson or a rookie like Justin Strnad, the Broncos need to find a guy who can bottle Kelce up and not allow him to catch all the chain-moving passes he is known for catching.
Make Mahomes go somewhere else with the football. That may sound crazy because he is quite capable of doing that, but the Broncos have got to be tired of seeing Kelce torch them the way he does.
Keep the offense on the field
As good as the Chiefs were last season in their run to the Lombardi Trophy, they were beatable in basically every postseason game they played. The Houston Texans had them on the ropes in the divisional round, the Tennessee Titans were taking it to them in the AFC Championship Game and the San Francisco 49ers probably should have won the Super Bowl.
A team just needs to figure out how to deal the knockout blow.
Give the Chiefs credit, they are a great team with a heckuva lot of talent. But they are not unbeatable. In looking at their games in the early portion of the season last year, both the Texans and Indianapolis Colts beat the Chiefs by running the football right at them and keeping Mahomes on the sidelines.
The Broncos should have a good defense in 2020, but they will need to beat the Chiefs by being offensive. The best way to beat a strong offense is by running the ball, controlling the time of possession and keeping that offense on the sidelines.
Pile on the points
As stated in the previous slide, the Broncos will need to be offensive to beat the Chiefs. They scored six points in one game against them last season and three points in the other. That's obviously not going to get the job done and they can't expect to win a 17-14 slugfest either.
The Broncos need to have long, time-consuming drives that result in touchdowns, not field goals. As the 49ers found out back in February, the Chiefs are capable of scoring points in bunches and taking a victory from the jaws of defeat.
The offense is just too explosive and while you know the Chiefs are going to get big plays and score plenty of points, the Broncos need to find a way to score more and win a shootout, maybe by making one big defensive play when it matters most.
Drew Lock has been surrounded by the kind of talent to make this happen. The Broncos need to score more points and be better offensively in general in 2020, but that will particularly be the case in the games against Kansas City.
The Broncos cannot get swept by the Chiefs this coming season, which would put the win streak at 11 games. They need to at least earn a split and let the Chiefs know that even though they may be more talented overall, they're hot on their tail.