The Kansas City Chiefs are not a terrible football team, but they did a fantastic impression of one for Weeks 2-6. It was a hideous stretch and one that has the Chiefs desperate for any win they can get down the stretch in hopes of an AFC wild card berth.
On Sunday, the Chiefs will travel to Sports Authority Field to take on the Denver Broncos, a team that is 7-1 and undefeated at home. However, Denver is banged up. Cornerback Aqib Talib has been suspended for the contest and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware is likely out with a back injury. The offensive line has been a mess all year in Denver, and now has Ryan Harris starting at left tackle.
With all of that in mind, the Chiefs have to find a way to beat the Broncos for the first time in the Peyton Manning era. It could happen, but only if these three things materialize.
1. Jeff Allen handles Von Miller
It’s no secret that the Chiefs have to block in this game. Denver has enjoyed one of the best pass-rushes in the National Football League this year, racking up 30 to lead the league. Oddly enough, Miller has only accounted for four, while Ware leads Denver with 6.5. The concern is that Miller will feast on Allen, who is strong at the point of attack but can’t deal well with speed. Head coach Andy Reid has to give Allen help on the edge and force Miller back inside.
2. Winning on third down
This is huge. Kansas City is going to face plenty of third downs against the best defense in the league. Denver’s defense has only allowed a third down conversion rate of 36.4, the 10th-best mark. Yet, the Chiefs are even better in this category, holding teams to a 33.7 percent rate, sixth-best in the NFL. Offensively, the Chiefs are 22nd at 36.6 percent. To beat Denver, this number needs to be near or above 50 percent. On the opposite end of the pectrum, Denver is abysmal on third down, converting just 34.5 percent of the time. This needs to continue.
3. Kansas City is +2 in the turnover battle
The Chiefs need to force some mistakes as they have the last two weeks. The defense has been opportunistic, and it is obvious that Peyton Manning is going to throw up some ducks. Guys like Eric Berry, Sean Smith, Marcus Peters and Ron Parker can’t drop interceptions. When Justin Houston and Tamba Hali get home, they need to go for the strip-sack. If Kansas City can get great field position, it can win.