Chiefs vs. Broncos: Travis Kelce and Patrick Surtain among key matchups to watch

The Kansas City Chiefs (6-1) are visiting the Denver Broncos (2-5) for Week 8 of the 2023 NFL season.
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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Week 8 presents another AFC West battle for the Kansas City Chiefs. Head coach Andy Reid and company go on the road to face the Denver Broncos. These two teams competed against each other just two weeks ago in Kansas City. A late field goal by Harrison Butker was needed to put the game out of reach.

Divisional meetings are often hard-fought, even when one team holds a 16-game winning streak against its opponent. Both the Chiefs and the Broncos are familiar with one another. Here we will look at a few key matchups for this contest. 

1. Travis Kelce vs Patrick Surtain II

Travis Kelce, Pat Surtain II
Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce has been dominant as usual. Many have tried, but nobody can seem to stop him. Kelce is on pace to have another season as the best tight end in the NFL. With no other player on the offense established as a go-to target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, Kelce’s role is pivotal. Over the years other teams have deployed a variety of methods. He finds open holes in the zone while also being precise and elusive enough to beat man coverage. The experience and football IQ helps him to diagnose what defenses are doing pre-snap.

There is not a single answer to stopping Travis Kelce. Kansas City will certainly utilize his route-running abilities and intelligence to keep the offense in tune. 

In the past teams have seen the most success slowing down Kelce by shadowing him with someone who plays with physicality in the secondary (i.e. Marlon Humphrey, Derwin James Jr.). Additionally, there would be another player providing supplemental help in coverage. Denver Broncos' 2022 1st-Team All-Pro cornerback Patrick Surtain II chimed in on what it is like facing Kelce.

Up to this point, Surtain has 1 interception and 7 pass deflections for the season. It isn’t clear if he will be tasked with shadowing Kelce. We will not know how Denver plans to slow him down until the game starts. Nonetheless, Surtain used words such as “plastering” and “physical” when discussing this challenge with the media. If Denver wants to keep the Chiefs from using their best weapon, Surtain will likely be a key fixture in doing so.