Matchups To Watch
Chiefs’ Receiver Tyreek Hill vs. Broncos’ Cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
Harris and Hill will be a good battle between two of the top competitors in this game. Harris can’t match Tyreek’s speed, but that hasn’t stopped him from playing physical at the line of scrimmage and trying to limit Hill’s ability to run his route smoothly. This should be a fun back and forth between these two.
Chiefs’ Defensive Line vs. Broncos’ Offensive Line
The Chiefs were able to rack up 9 sacks earlier this year when they faced off against Denver. Since then, Denver has changed quarterbacks, but they will be without the starting right guard and tackle for this game. If missing the right side of the offensive line wasn’t bad enough, Denver also has Garrett Boles at left tackle, who is just as likely to get a holding penalty as he is to give up a sack, and rookie Dalton Risner at left guard, who needs a good offseason to build up his strength to be able to anchor better against NFL caliber players. All of this adds up to a potential long, rough night of dodging defenders for the rookie quarterback.
Chiefs’ Offensive Line vs. Broncos’ Depleted Defensive Line
Kansas City finally has their entire offensive line healthy, and they get to face an injury riddled defensive line. Denver will be without starting defensive end Adam Gotsis and backup nose tackle Demarcus Walker. Backup defensive end Dre’Mont Jones missed practice all week and is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. That leaves 3 healthy defensive linemen for Denver, against a full strength KC offensive line.
Chiefs’ Safety Tyrann Mathieu vs. Broncos’ Quarterback Drew Lock
Mathieu needs to be unleashed to do what he does best this week, which is wreaking havoc. He is great at disguising what he is doing pre-snap, and should be able to throw a lot of different looks at Drew Lock to keep him guessing. Look for Mathieu to roam all over the field and force Lock into a few mistakes.
Broncos’ OLB Jeremiah Attaochu vs. His Former Team
Revenge games always help players raise their level of play when facing a team they used to play for. Enter Jeremiah Attaochu, who was with the Chiefs through training camp, before ultimately failing to make their 53-man roster after the preseason was finished. Attaochu has been making the most opportunity with the Broncos, earning starts in the last 2 games, and getting 2 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, and 1 fumble recovery. His motor should be running a little higher in this game, trying to prove to the Chiefs that they made a mistake letting him go.
Keys To Victory
Avoid The Hangover
The big win in Foxborough last week, and the 30-6 victory from week 7 in Denver make this an easy game for the Chiefs to overlook if they aren’t focused. Divisional games are always tough to navigate because of the familiarity between the teams, which brings down the margin for error. Kansas City has a great shot to come out on Sunday and beat a team that has heated up recently, sending a message to the rest of the AFC in the process.
Masters Of Disguise
With Denver making a change to rookie Drew Lock at quarterback, the Chiefs need to mix things up on defense, disguise blitzes and coverages, and try to confuse the rookie signal caller. The more uncertainty they can create pre and post snap, the greater the likelihood that Lock makes a mistake.
Don’t Miss Many Tackles
The Broncos have several playmakers on their team that are tough to bring down, making tackling a big key this week. The biggest plays for Denver over the past couple of weeks have mostly been the result of missed tackles. Rookie tight end Noah Fant and receiver Courtland Sutton are both powerful, physical runners, so the Chiefs should expect a fight when trying to bring these two down. Running back Phillip Lindsay is quick and shifty, which presents a whole different set of issues for would be tacklers. If Kansas City can limit the amount of yards after contact, they will set themselves up to continue their winning streak.
Defend Against Trick Plays
Last week, the Patriots were able to use 2 trick plays to gash the Chiefs defense for big gains. The Broncos have seen the tape, and will surely try to unleash some trickery. Hopefully the Chiefs learned from their mistakes last week.
Find Another Gear
The regular season is getting close to the end, and the playoffs are staring Kansas City right in the face. With what looks like a loaded playoff field, now would be a good time for the Chiefs to raise their level of play a step higher, and continue the climb towards the team playing at their peak performance. The best teams tend to get hot late in the season and roll through the playoffs to the Super Bowl. If Kansas City has championship aspirations, they have to start playing their best football so far this year. As Jerry Rice once said, ‘the enemy of the best, is the good. If you’re always settling with what’s good, you’ll never be the best.’