Four Chiefs Weaknesses The Broncos Can Exploit In Week 7
The Denver Broncos look on the brink of really turning this season around, winning back-to-back games after an 0-4 start to the season. On a short weak, the Broncos don’t have an easy matchup coming to town with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos do have some advantages, being on a short week against a defense that can’t stop the run and the game being in Denver.
Those are just advantages, but when studying this Chiefs team, there are certain areas of weakness that the Broncos can exploit them. This is going to be a tough matchup simply because of how much firepower the Chiefs offense has.
Denver needs to find a way to slow them down, or get their offense going so they can keep up on the scoreboard. Exploiting these weaknesses can help do just that.
Run Run Run
This is the biggest area for the Broncos to exploit against the Chiefs. Denver is averaging 116 yards rushing per game, which is 14th in the NFL, while the Chiefs are allowing 161.8 rush yards per game, 30th in the NFL.
Both the Colts and the Texans showed that running is the key to success against the Chiefs defense, handing them consecutive losses. Denver has to follow suit.
Playing at altitude, on a short week, against a defense that just finished the game after being on the field for nearly 40 minutes. Denver has to keep them on the field and keep pounding away at them with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
The only area the Chiefs are having any sort of success against the run is off the left end, where teams average 2.4 yards per carry. Attacking everywhere else the gains range from 4.2 to 10.4 yards per carry.
Going off the right tackle is the best approach, where six of the 13 carries have gone more than 10 yards. The most frequent place to attack the Chiefs has been behind the center where teams have ran it 48 times picking up 227 yards with six runs of 10-plus yards.
Man Coverage and Blitz
Another thing that the Colts and Texans revealed to the NFL, and this one is very important, is that Patrick Mahomes struggles vs. man coverage. The Lions started to lay down the blueprint, but they were unable to come away with the win.
If you play zone against him, he will eat you up, but man can at least slow him down and cause some struggles.
Denver will have to follow this blueprint, and make constant adjustments as the Colts, Texans, and the Lions did. This is a heavily talented Chiefs offense, and the Broncos aren’t that talented on defense to match up with them.
Denver will need to play a clean and perfect game, and make needed adjustments in time, otherwise this one can get out of hand quickly. Playing man coverage is just one part of it.
Attack the Secondary
The Chiefs passing defense is struggling, but it is better than their run defense. They are allowing 244.3 passing yards per game, 14th in the NFL. Teams have exploited their troubled secondary for some big gains. In their game against the Texans, the Chiefs defense was nearly beaten for a long touchdown on three different occasions only for the receiver to drop the ball.
What isn’t helping the secondary is a lack of pass rush from the Chiefs. They are tied at 24 with 11 sacks on the season, and just generally lack a push to get after the quarterback. Denver’s offensive line has been improving, but they still give up quite a bit of pressure that hasn’t allowed them to take shots downfield. This could be the game to change that.
Denver needs its offensive line to hold up and push the ball, in smart situations. You want to run and keep the Chiefs offense off the field, but at the same time, you need to show you can score quickly and make big plays.
This would be a great game to get Diontae Spencer involved in the passing game with the speed he brings to the table to stretch the field, especially with Emmanuel Sanders banged up with a knee injury.
You do have yo be cautious in pushing it, though, as the secondary is very opportunistic, plus they have a Honey Badger hanging around that can kill you with a big play. All in all, though, this is a game that benefits the Broncos offense for a few reasons.
A gassed defense that isn’t already good, on a short week, butting up against the fact that the Broncos just beat two top-10 defenses in the Titans and the Chargers.
Plus, we won't see Chris Jones or Kendall Fuller in the game, which makes Kansas City's defensive line and secondary even weaker. Jones is one of the Chiefs best pass rushers, and is their interior pressure, so missing this game will be huge for Denver.
Exploit the Offensive Line
Mahomes has only been sacked eight times and hit 27 times, but his ability to escape the pocket and extend plays has really helped them out. In the last two weeks, even though they lost, the Chiefs gave up no sacks.
However, they gave up a lot of pressure, and Mahomes is hobbled and wasn’t able to make as much magic as normal. That led to mistakes that helped the other team.
The Chiefs right tackle is one of the best in the NFL, and he continues to play as such this year. He has a knack for shutting down Von Miller, so this is a game to potentially move Von Miller to the other side.
Cam Erving has been playing left tackle in place of an injured Eric Fisher, and has given up two sacks this year and been hit with four penalties. His play has been helped a lot by Mahomes, but Erving is giving up pressure at a high rate.
Andrew Wylie, the Chiefs left guard, has been banged up, and their right guard hasn’t been playing the best football. All around, this offensive line is struggling, and Mahomes isn’t able to help them out as much.
Denver needs to exploit that, shut down the run and get to Mahomes often. Even if they aren’t sacking him, they need to put him under pressure and try and take the ball away.
Knowing what areas to attack the Chiefs is one thing, but what players/units do the Broncos need to utilize on both sides of the ball in order to exploit these areas? Here's the list.
Phillip Lindsay & Royce Freeman: With how bad the Chiefs defense is against the run, Denver needs to rely on their two running backs to eat the clock and pick up first downs. Teams have been so successful running the ball against Kansas City, and that fits right into the strength of the Broncos offense. Plus, playing on a short week and in Denver makes it all that more important to pound the rock.
Noah Fant: To help out their passing game, the Broncos need to get Fant going and for him to cut out the mistakes. The Chiefs linebackers are a bad group of linebackers struggling on the field in coverage and against the run. This is a favorable matchup for Fant and the running backs in the passing game.
Elijah Wilkinson/Ja’Wuan James: Wilkinson is the weak link on the offensive line, so if he ends up playing at right tackle, he has to step it up. That right side of the Chiefs defense is their weakest point in run defense, so that is the best place to exploit. If James plays, then the same goes for him but because he is coming back from injury that he has missed all but a handful of snaps from the first game.
Chris Harris, Jr.: Harris is going to be matched up on Tyreek Hill and that is a tough one for him. Denver needs Harris to shut Hill down, and make the Chiefs pay once or twice. He has talked the talk this season, but until the Titans game, he hasn’t really backed it up. Now is the time to really back it up.
Justin Simmons: The last two games have been great from Simmons, and he is starting to emerge as everyone had hoped for this season. Denver needs him to step it up some more against this tough Chiefs offense.
Malik Reed/Von Miller: This will be a good game for the Broncos to move their pass rushers around. Whoever ends up facing the left tackle, especially if Eric Fisher doesn’t play as expected at the time of writing this, needs to put the pressure on. Pressure on Mahomes leads to more chances for a mistake and Denver has to win the turnover battle in this one.