The Kansas City Chiefs have thrown down the gauntlet. The Denver Broncos have chosen their weapons and sides have begun pacing off.
Now, the final dark smoke signals of war have crossed the horizon and at dusk marking the fortnight of their bye, the beginning of the end waits for one team.
In any event, there’s gonna be a football game and some are calling it, “The Game of the Year.” I don’t want to get too carried away with that because two weeks later these two are going to do it again on the Chiefs home turf.
First, let’s set the stage for the Chiefs vs. the Broncos:
John Elway. Can’t stand him. DT sacking Elway is memory bliss.
Mike Shanahan. No a fan of the man.
Rod Smith. Tired of that guy and super glad he’s gone!
Steve Atwater. Not good memories.
Mark Schlereth. One sharp cookie, too bad he played for the donkeys.
Shannon Sharpe. Not so sharp.
Terrell Davis. When the Chiefs win this Sunday the first thing I want to say is, “Salute This” and I will give it that Veteran’s Day extra umph!
There are plenty enough memories of old Broncos to haunt Chiefs fans for a decade. Hopefully that decade is over because all those people are gone now. That’s why the Chiefs have to win on Sunday evening. That would go a long way towards exorcising the demons left from an old familiar haunt: Mile High Stadium.
So, this game’s in “Denver at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.” That’s a big enough mouth to swallow. Oakland just doesn’t carry the the same clout that Denver does these days and the Broncos have definitely become my favorite AFC West team to hate (let me first qualify this “hate” because… this isn’t the Richie Incognito kind of hate… it’s more like the, quiche makes me want to vomit, kind of hate).
Setting the Stage
The weather should be nippy. Probably around 35 to 38 degrees for kickoff. With a 10% chance of rain there’ll be humidity in the air and the temp will drop as the game proceeds.
It’s hard to say if there’s an advantage here but Peyton Manning has been known to not favor cold and inclimate weather.
The Broncos come in having played a tough physical game with the San Diego Chargers which went down to the end of the game.
The Chiefs are coming off of a victory against the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo but have had a week of rest and a week to prepare for the Broncos. Since Andy Reid became head coach, his team has only lost one time following a bye week.
Instead of focusing how specific individual match-up let’s take a look at the groups on each side of the ball. The Chiefs linebacking corp is the strength of their defense. Peyton Manning will attempt to use short routes and the quick passing game to keep Tamba Hali, Justin Houston off of his body. If he’s able to keep them from teeing off then he’ll take his time in the pocket and head downfield.
The Broncos will likely use an improving run game to establish the line of scrimmage. If they’re able to do that it’ll be a long night for the Chiefs. If Bob Sutton and the Chiefs defense can come up with a few more disguises for their run/pass defense sets and still stuff the run game, they’ll have a much improved chance to get to Manning, especially later in the game.
The Chiefs defensive line of Tyson Jackson, Dontari Poe and Mike DeVito could make all the difference in this game. If they come through with the run stuffing performance that they have in most other games this year… it is on!
The Chiefs secondary is improved since the beginning of the year with the addition of Marcus Cooper and the continuing coordinated play of Sean Smith, Brandon Flowers and Safeties Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Quintin Demps and Husain Abdullah. This group can be special and while you will hear the sack totals quoted repeatedly in praise of the Hali and Houston it’s the Chiefs secondary that rates first in the league in opposing QBs throwing percentage at 53.3%.
When the Chiefs play offense, the Broncos pass defense may be one place the Chiefs will have success. They allow 59.4% completions to opposing QB’s. Whereas the Chiefs lead the league with 36 sacks on the season the Broncos are tied for 13th with 26.
While the Chiefs are allowing 118.6 yards rushing per game the Broncos rank 4th in the league allowing only 87 yards per game. That may sound worrisome until you figure that most teams were attempting to play catch-up ball and were forced into throwing the ball at least half the game. If the Chiefs can rush the ball successfully, it will be a key to watch that may have the greatest effect on the outcome of this contest.
Run the ball, control the clock, score in the red zone using the run, and it won’t matter if the Broncos streak down the field and score right away because their defense will be so worn out by halftime the Chiefs will likely be in control of the game at that point.
One great salvo to this game is that, in the end, it will not matter if the Chiefs lose there and win here two weeks from now, they’ll likely still be a game ahead of the Broncos. Of course, it would be terrific to whip the Broncos in their own back yard but the point is, even if they do win, the two teams will be tied.
I hope Dwayne Bowe’s knuckleheaded move over the weekend doesn’t take away from his performance this Sunday. That’s all I care about right now. He and the Chiefs and the league will work all the consequences out later but for now, he needs to focus on what’s up next and that would be the Broncos defense.
Myth to Bed
There has been the common notion that when a good team has run it’s course, the Pittsburgh Steelers for example, then it will take a few, at least a couple, years to rebuild and resurface at the upper half of the standings.
I would suggest that this is now a myth and can be put to bed.
Why? Because if you look at teams like the Indianapolis Colts of last year and the K.C. Chiefs of this season, you can see that if a team hires the right coach, brings in a good to above average QB and cleans house enough to change the losing culture… a team can be turned around immediately.
I would also suggest that as the Chiefs head to Denver this weekend that it will be the Chiefs fans who have their reservations about whether or not the Chiefs can win this game far more than the team itself.
Light a match in a storm once… and they will “see.” Light a match in a storm four times… and they will “believe.” Light it nine times straight and they will “know.” These players go into Denver knowing they can win.
I don’t think there’s a story that can typify more my love for the Chiefs and my disdain for the Broncos than one that comes from Eddie Kennison.
Eleven years ago, in the midst of the season, Eddie’s wife who was six months pregnant became ill. Eddie took a couple of days off in the middle of the week but then his wife’s situation became worse and Eddie told Mike Shanahan he couldn’t play that coming weekend. Shanahan got angry and that weekend, when game day arrived, it was announced by the team that Eddie Kennison had retired.
On Monday after the game, Kennison went back to Shanahan and explained that he didn’t want to stop playing football but Shanahan told Kennison to come back on Wednesday because he was going to ask the team if they wanted Kennison back. On Wednesday Shanahan told Eddie that the team voted not to have him back.
Eddie, his ailing wife and their two year old returned to Houston, their home town, and found a doctor who would correctly diagnose her with Lupus. When she received the proper care and medicine she began to get better right away.
The next weekend, one hour before it was time to take the field, Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil called Eddie and asked him if he still wanted to play football. Eddie told him yes. Dick said please talk it over with your wife and I’ll call you after the game. An hour after the game Vermeil called back and asked him what he thought. Eddie said he had talked it through with his wife and that he still very much wanted to play football and that she wanted him to play football too. The rest is Chiefs history.
God Bless our Chiefs and Dick Vermeil.
Now, please go beat the Denver Broncos.