Broncos vs. Chiefs, part 2: Matchup analysis
By David Thomas
The Kansas City Chiefs are taking on the Denver Broncos for the second time this season. Can they get the sweep?
All I Want For Christmas Is A Chiefs Win!
We have a who’s who in the matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas. This is their second matchup since Week 12 which ended in the most dramatic way possible. It has only been three weeks since then, but the Broncos are now on the outside looking in. The Chiefs are currently sitting on the fifth seed and need a Raiders loss in these last two weeks for a shot at the No. 2 seed. If the Broncos drop both of their last two games there is no chance they make it into the playoffs. However, they do have a chance at both 9-7 and 10-6. You can check out more about their chances here.
Now lets take a look at the decisive matchups going on this Christmas night.
Justin Houston vs. Broncos Offensive Line
The premier matchup of the night. Last time these two faced off the Chiefs terrorized the Broncos offensive line to the tune of five sacks, a forced fumble, and a safety. However, of all that only one sack occurred in the second half of the game. Ty Sambrailo started the game at right tackle and then got benched after Justin Houston burned the second year tackle for two sacks in the first half. Stephenson will be starting this week and should expect to be matched with Houston often throughout the game.
It should also be noted that Justin Houston missed practice all week with a knee injury designation. Houston’s knee is what kept him out until Week 11, and is officially listed as questionable. Houston is a veteran and doesn’t need to practice to play.
Tyreek Hill vs. Broncos Defense
Last time Hill scorched the Broncos for three touchdowns, and none of them were in the same way. Hill scored once on the ground, once through the air, and once on a kickoff after a safety. Week 12 also marked Hill’s most snaps of the season (59). Officially Tyreek Hill plays as the Chiefs No. 3 receiver behind Chris Conley and Jeremy Maclin, but Maclin was out the first time around. So what should we expect from Hill this time?
Last week Hill had his longest run of the season that went for 68 yards and a touchdown. To everyone’s surprise Hill did not receive another carry the rest of the game. Hill has never had more than two carries in a game, but with Jamaal Charles officially out for the season we may see Hill get a few more chances.
Through the air, Tyreek Hill is just 14 receptions, and four touchdowns away from tying the Chiefs record for most receptions and offensive touchdowns by a rookie. Currently on the team Hill has the 2nd highest catch percentage of anyone on the team with more than 30 receptions (behind only Spencer Ware). Against the Broncos Hill was targeted 10 times with nine receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown. Jeremy Maclin is back so Hill’s production will likely go down, but whenever Hill touches the field he is always a threat.
Terrance Mitchell vs. Denver Wide Receivers
Week 12 Mitchell had yet to step onto the field in 2016, but since then he’s been one of the better corners in the league. Only Denver’s own Chris Harris Jr. and Aqib Talib grade higher than Mitchell by PFF. The addition of Mitchell should help a secondary that gave up the second most pass yards it had all season.
Phillip Gaines who was playing in Mitchell’s current position gave up six receptions, 209 yards, and two touchdowns against the Broncos. So far in three games Mitchell has only given up seven receptions on 19 targets for 47 yards and zero touchdowns. Going up against the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders should prove to be a tough test for the second year corner.