Breaking Down the Stats in the Great Chiefs vs. Broncos Arms Race

Statistics are a funny thing. If my time here at Arrowhead Addict and writing as much about football as I do has taught me one thing, it’s that you can bend stats to prove whatever point you want to prove. They’re just numbers after all so you can paint whatever picture you want with them. You just have to give some and not give the rest.

A perfect example of this would be when people discuss the Chiefs defense. A person wanting to paint them in a non-flattering light could point to the fact that the Chiefs are the 10th best team in overall yardage, the 6th in passing and the 24th in rushing defense. If that’s all the stats you were given you would think the Chiefs fielded a mediocre-at-best defense this season.

However, when you add in the fact the Chiefs lead the league in sacks (36), fumble recoveries (11), defensive touchdowns (4) and are the league’s best scoring defense – holding teams to 12.3 points per game and not allowing any team to score more than 17 points against them through nine games – you can see that this is truly the best defense in the league.

Mind you, I think stats are a valuable thing to have in sports. I’m not discounting them. In fact, I’ve written several articles based solely on the statistics. But I’ll be honest, I’m just as guilty as using them to tell the story I wanted you to read versus actually laying it all out on the table. But no one should discount their usefulness. Without statistics there would be no history of the sport. Without stats, we wouldn’t know who individual leaders in certain areas are. So, I get it. Stats are useful and they’re needed in the sporting world in general.

So if we can’t rely on stats to tell us who the better team is, how do we know?

I would submit the old adage, “that’s why they play the game.”

When the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs travel to the Mile High City to take on the 8-1 Denver Broncos this Sunday night, the stats will go out the window. This game will come down to which unit matches up better against which and which team wants it more.

Allow me to let you all in on a little – not so – secret that has nothing to do with stats: Head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey built this defense to beat the Denver Broncos. If you don’t believe that, you might as well stop reading right here.

How can that be? The Chiefs only play the Broncos twice a year. That’s only 12.5 percent of their schedule. Why would they do that?

They did it with the mindset that if they could handle Peyton Manning and his offense – and make no mistake, it’s his offense – then they wouldn’t have a problem beating other teams too. So far, that’s worked. So far, this defense has been championship caliber. So far, people have compared this defense to the likes of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens (who won a Superbowl) and the 1985 Chicago Bears (who won a Superbowl) and even that powerhouse of a team the 1977 Atlanta Falcons (who…wait, they didn’t win anything, but they were the last team to hold every opponent to 17 points or less through the first nine games of the season). This defense is legit. This defense is not just playing “lights out” on their side of the ball, but they’re lifting up the offense and even scoring their own points – 24 total by last count on four defensive returns for touchdowns, the best in the league…how’s that for a stat?

The offseason was more akin to the arms race between the United States and Mother Russia than it was a normal “football downtime.” For every move the Broncos made, the Chiefs made a counter move. The Broncos have a dynamic scoring duo like Demarius Thomas and Eric Decker, the Chiefs pick up free agent corner back Sean Smith to compliment the talented Brandon Flowers.

Tight end phenom Julius Thomas comes out of nowhere, all of a sudden Eric Berry starts playing elite defense against tight ends, something he hasn’t been able to master thus far in his young career. Finally, the Broncos pick up free agent Wes Welker, the Chiefs sign Dunta Robinson. But Dunta wasn’t what they expected. He hasn’t had the impact as the third corner in the Chiefs triangle defensive backfield.

But then a Christmas miracle – if Christmas happened after the last cut down day of the preseason – happened. The Chiefs signed a guy named Marcus Cooper off of waivers when they had the first overall waiver authority because of their dismal record the year before. Remember those days, Addicts, when the Chiefs could get the first pick because of their record? Yeah, I’m trying to forget too. Cooper comes on and suddenly Robinson is playing fourth chair to the new guy.

The point here is, the Chiefs did what they did to counter the “high powered offense” of the Denver Broncos. However, this arms race will go nuclear in Denver when Andy Reid does his best Ronald Reagan impression and says: “Mr. Elway, tear that wall down.” Of course, I think it’ll be more like Reagan in his early days as a movie actor in “B” westerns: “Listen here, ‘Horseface,’ you and ‘Forehead Manning,’ come out or we’re coming in after you.”

Reid wants to win. There was no rebuilding period in Kansas City. There was no process — yes I hate that word as much as you all do. Reid and Dorsey put this team together to win right now. There was no looking ahead to the future. I’m sure they do that in between strategy meetings and film room and personnel discussions, but the goal was “win now” from the jump. They knew that they only way they were going to do that was to beat Denver. So, they built their team to do just that.

It will be a fight in Denver this Sunday night. There’s a reason this game was flexed to the primetime slot on “Sunday Night Football” instead of remaining at a 3:25 kickoff time. Many are calling this the “game of the year.” I don’t quite know about that as it’s tough to say if any regular season game is different or more important than any other regular season game. Certainly the fact that the winner will own first place – the Chiefs by virtue of their record; the Broncos by virtue of owning the head-to-head tie breaker – at least for a week makes this game important; not to mention it’s a divisional game. I think more importantly here is the fact that this could be the Chiefs “coming out” party. The Chiefs defense is every bit as elite as the Broncos offense. With those two forces clashing, the other side of the ball – the Chiefs offense and the Broncos defense – could get lost in the shuffle or be where the real game is played.

Though some may say I’m biased, I think the Chiefs offense will win this game and surprise everyone. The Broncos defense isn’t playing well. They’ve allowed teams like the Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, and the Dallas Cowboys to put up over 21 points against them. In fact, the combined scores of all common opponents between the Chiefs and the Broncos 131-48. The Broncos have allowed 131 points against teams the Chiefs allowed 48 to. Again, here’s stats not painting a full picture, but the bottom line is, the only stat that matters is scoring. Who can keep whom out of the end zone. Thus far this season, the Chiefs have been the best in the league in that category. While the Chiefs’ offense hasn’t been the best at finding paydirt, they’ve done it against mediocre defenses, and Denver’s “D” is about as mediocre as it gets.

The Chiefs haven’t faced an offense like this all season. But the Broncos haven’t faced a defense like this all season either. The game will come down to who wants it more.

And there’s not a stat for that.

If you’re looking to cheer them on in enemy territory, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos tickets remain available so grab some now!

Topics: Kansas City Chiefs

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  • Mike Hawthorne

    Smith should have a better game than usual. KC has played several better defenses than Denver’s so don’t be surprised if KC gets 24-28 points, not counting any bonus points from defense or special teams. Not sure if KC can keep Manning from scoring more, though. No one knows for sure til they play.

    I expect a lot of punts from both sides so field position will matter – KC has a great punter. If it’s a tight game, remember KC totally dominates the 4th quarter (better conditioning?) and can win by sheer willpower. But if Denver goes up by 17 by halftime, it’s probably over.

    • Jason Seibel

      I would agree with you about the 17 points at halftime. No matter how big a fan of Smith I am, this team isn’t really built to play from that far behind. As for the conditioning, that scares me because of the altitude difference. I’ll guess we’ll see.

      • Calchiefsfan

        A special teams play or a pick six could put us right back in the mix even when down by 17. Remember we’re a second half team and a shut down team in the 4th quarter.

        • sidibeke

          I agree. Caveat is that with the exception of last week against the Chargers, Manning is a 2nd half QB, learning the D and exploiting it 2nd half. I know the Chiefs can win this game. But we need to control the pace of the game. I don’t get too caught up in the pts Den’s D has allowed or the pts KC’s offense has scored. Games have pace and whoever controls the pace of this game (ball control;grind it out or high scoring) will win.

          • Calchiefsfan

            Absolutely. I’m hoping that Sutton shows some different looks in the second half, things the Chiefs haven’t done all year to throw Manning off. He’s such a smart guy, he’s studied all the tape including what the Chiefs D did in the first half so he will come out game planning to counter those. With Manning it is a chess match, at least until we knock him down a few times :)

    • Calchiefsfan

      Denver has a great punter too

  • toperspective

    Ah yes, statistics. While the 131-48 is important, I would also think the offensive output against common opponents statistic would be worth noting. Denver has outscored the Chiefs 216-126. I hope you’re right about the Chiefs offense having a good week. I’m concerned about this offense but my hopes are up due to the fact that Reid is very good coming off bye weeks. Can’t wait.

  • Calchiefsfan

    I’m kind of expecting our O line to play well again this week. This week will be telling on whether they turned the corner against the Bills very good front seven last game. I think the Chiefs are close to that point where the O line starts gelling.

  • BigGil

    Broncos fans are really harping on that ranked 24th in rush defense thing this week. Wonder if they realize how much of that came from getting gashed by mobile QBs (who primarily chose to run because pass coverage was too damn good and a seam was open). If you deduct that yardage (and why not? not like Peyton is a running QB, especially when hobbled), KC’s per game average jumps to 5th best in the league.

    “But Knowshon is better than in previous years”. Yeah. But he’s still no LeSean McCoy (and Manning is definitely no Vick when it comes to running). Even if you wanna say Knowshon is the equivalent of a 32 year old Fred Jackson, no way is Hillman or Ball the equivalent of CJ Spiller. Those two games (PHI.& BUT) by far are the two in which KC have up the most rush yards, and it’s a stretch to think Denver will replicate such performances with the personnel they got. Next two biggest rush yards sacrificing games? Titans & Raiders. Rush yards from the QB position account for over 45% of their respective team’s final rush totals. Do you think Manning can account for over 45% of the Broncos total run yardage (where that’s a positive thing and not the result of a ridiculously low rushing total for them)? Yeah, I can’t either.

  • Joe

    Lol@this article. Paint your picture how you like but I’m sorry chiefs your string of backups ends sunday. Will be good game but chiefs will be 9-1 come monday

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