The Kansas City defense had better be up to the task of being one of the best units in the NFL this season because if they aren’t, there is no chance in hell the Chiefs are going to beat out the Denver Broncos for the AFC West crown.
It is a harsh reality but any reasonable fan that watched Denver’s 49-28 thumping of the defending Super Bowl champs last evening saw just how talented the 2013 version of the Broncos is.
In my travels around the interwebs this morning, I’ve already seen some disturbing banter by Chiefs fans. From Facebook to the comments right here on Arrowhead Addict, I’ve seen folks claiming the Broncos “didn’t look that special” and declaring that it was “just one game” and that “the Ravens looked horrible.”
Come on now. Step away from the Kool-Aid.
Sure, it was just one game and no, we can’t crown the Broncos just yet but only a fool would believe that last night’s seven touchdown performance by Peyton Manning was just a fluke.
Denver handled the Ravens in every aspect of the game. From a blocked kick on special teams to interceptions on defense, the Broncos made plenty of plays, enough to turn what was a close game at the half into a blowout by the time it was all over.
Where the Broncos really sizzled, however, was on offense. Manning shredded the Ravens secondary to the tune of 462 yards and again, seven touchdowns, which tied the NFL record. Manning did just find last season with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker in 2012 but he looks absolutely deadly this season with Wes Welker and TE Julius Thomas added to the mix.
One weakness the Broncos showed against the Ravens was a poor running game. The Broncos ran the ball 23 times for only 65 yards and the team’s longest run of the night went for only nine yards. Still, the fact that the Broncos couldn’t run the ball certainly didn’t seem to help the Baltimore secondary.
Chiefs GM John Dorsey was wise to spend some time this offseason beefing up the Chiefs’ secondary. The additions of Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson and Huisain Abdullah should give the Chiefs a chance to hang with the high-powered Denver offense.
The Chiefs may be loaded with talent on defense but they have yet to prove much on the field. They looked ok at times during the preseason but there were far too many instances of KC corners getting burned deep. New defensive coordinator Bob Sutton plans to take some risks in attacking the QB but that will also mean that the Chiefs are likely to give up more big plays. Manning has so many weapons on offense that the Chiefs had better blitz him with extreme caution.
Expectations are high for the Chiefs this season but it is important KC fans recognize just how talented the Broncos are. Though head coach Andy Reid plans to “light up the scoreboard”, Chiefs QB Alex Smith isn’t likely to win many shootouts with Peyton Manning. Not only is Smith not in the same class as Manning, he doesn’t have anywhere near as much firepower at his disposal.
That means that for the Chiefs to take down the Broncos, their defense is going to need to be as equally special as Denver’s offense. I think the pieces are there for that to happen. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have the potential to be a terror and if the flashes that NT Dontari Poe showed in the preseason continue during the regular season, the Chiefs are going to be very tough up front.
The key for the Chiefs on defense could be safety Eric Berry. While Berry has flashed his potential at times and played very well for portions of seasons, he has never put together a truly dominant year. Berry will have to take the next step this season for the Chiefs to become the unit we all hope they can be on defense. In particular, berry is going to have to learn how to cover tight ends. He has been regularly abused by Chargers TE Antonio Gates and Denver’s Julius Thomas looked an awful lot like Gates against the Ravens. If Berry can improve his coverage skills, then the Chiefs defense could be the unmovable object to Denver’s unstoppable force.
If not, the Chiefs will have a tough time winning the West.