Chiefs vs. Broncos: The 7 most important storylines to follow
The Kansas City Chiefs continue their schedule against the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football. What should fans know going into the contest?
That was disappointing. For the second week in a row, the Kansas City Chiefs shot themselves in the foot over and over and over again and lost a game they should have won to a lesser team. I’m not making excuses, I’m simply stating facts. Through the first five weeks, according to advanced statistics, the Chiefs were the third best team in the NFL and the Texans were the 10th best team in the NFL. Still, the old saying goes, “That’s why they play the game.”
Some fans will blame the officiating and I’d agree, the officiating was absolutely awful. I don’t think officiating is more of a factor now than it used to be, but I think now when referees make a “mistake” we have more ways of evaluating it than we ever have before. It’s not hard after a game to put together a number of game changing calls that were incorrect.
One play in particular prompted national analyst Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk to write a thought-provoking piece about it. He makes some interesting points, but unfortunately we can’t know for sure what went on during that referee interaction. As coaches, players, and fans, we just have to move on.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, none of it would have mattered if the Chiefs buckled down and minimized mistakes. They are simply making too many of them right now to beat good teams. I won’t spend more time belaboring that point, as some of my colleagues have already addressed it heavily this week.
Just like that, the Chiefs now have a short week before playing a somewhat resurgent Denver Broncos team at a very hard place to play in Mile High Stadium. What are the storylines that should interest fans going into week seven?
Surprisingly, Vic Fangio is having a rough go as a head coach
When Vic Fangio was hired as the head coach of the Denver Broncos, as a Chiefs fan I was a little bit wary. It’s not that the Broncos were a great all-around team who just needed a good head coach to make them competitive. Honestly, they’ve been lacking in talent for years. It’s that I thought Fangio was going to be that big of a difference maker that the Broncos might actually be able to steal a team from a Super Bowl contender like the Chiefs.
Why did I think this? In the last decade Fangio has been a defensive coordinator at the professional level for two franchises, the San Fransisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears. During his tenure with the 49ers, the defense finished on average both fourth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed. Following his departure to the Bears, the next three years that average dropped to 25th in points allowed and 28th in yards allowed. They did have significant losses in terms of talent but the fact is they were an incredible defense with him at the helm and plummeted without him.
Things were no different with the Bears. The defense struggled in his first two seasons, as did the whole organization, but in his last two years, the defense finished in the top 10 in both categories. They also finished first in points allowed and third in yards allowed in 2018. Once again, Fangio seemed to have built an incredible defense.
Most would have argued he was the best defensive coordinator in the league. With him becoming the head coach of the Denver Broncos, a team not far removed from the vaunted defense that won them a Super Bowl, the presumption was that he’d turn around the franchise. That has yet to be the case.
The Broncos as a team are 2-4 and while they’ve picked things up the last two weeks, it’s hard to buy into them yet. Their offense is ranked near the bottom of the league in every category but rushing. While their defense hasn’t allowed a ton of points or yards, ranked seventh and fourth respectively, they’re not making the plays you’d expect from a talented unit with a defensive minded coach.
For this last point, I’m going to leave out the game against the Titans. Maybe this isn’t obvious to everyone, but the Titans are a bad offensive team. They’re also near the bottom of the league in every major category, and they benched their starter in the game against the Broncos. Including this game relative to the task they have against the Chiefs doesn’t make a lot of sense, because there are some interesting points if you remove the outsized production they had against a bad all-around offense.
Before the Titans game, the Broncos were tied with the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons for the least sacks in the NFL with five, and were tied with the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars for the least turnovers in the NFL with two total, two interceptions and zero fumbles recovered.
Outside of the Jaguars, who are probably a middle of the pack NFL defense right now without their best player for several games, that makes the comparables for the Broncos defense two of the worst units in the entire league. They did get a confidence boost against a bad team on Sunday, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Chiefs should improve against this defense.