Chiefs' Speed Creates Matchup Problems vs. Broncos' Defense
Injuries have ravaged this defensive unit for Denver. Promising second year outside linebacker Bradley Chubb and defensive end Derek Wolfe have been lost for the season, as has corner Bryce Callahan. Starting defensive end Adam Gotsis, who helped fix the struggling Broncos’ defense, will miss the game with a knee injury. Backup nose tackle Demarcus Walker will be out with an ankle injury, and backup defensive end Dre’Mont Jones has missed all week of practice and is questionable with an ankle injury suffered in the game last week. Even stud outside linebacker Von Miller hasn’t been able to avoid the injury bug, as he deals with a knee injury that has limited his effectiveness in recent weeks. Miller seems to be afraid of injuring the knee worse and hasn’t looked like the same player lately. His more timid approach definitely shows up when he is facing a cut block.
Denver normally runs a 3-4, but with the injuries to their defensive line leaving them with 3 healthy bodies on the line, they might try to work more out of their 2-4-5 nickel package. They use a combination of Cover 2, Man Free, and Cover 3 concepts to try to lock down the passing game, along with using some twists up front to manufacture pressure. Cornerback Chris Harris Jr. is the best player in the secondary and will most likely devote the majority of his time to chasing Tyreek Hill. Safety Kareem Jackson finds himself around the line of scrimmage often trying to stop the run, but will also look to make a big hit or splash play on the back end when in coverage.
Beating The Defense
Kansas City has to challenge the depth of the Broncos’ defensive line. With only 3 players being healthy, this would be a good game to establish the run and wear down the thin unit. In the 4 quarter, the Chiefs should be able to run at will against the exhausted defensive line. Kansas City needs to run right at their former player, outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu. Attaochu wants to get upfield in a hurry, opening up big running lanes just inside the tackle. If the tackle will pass set, Attaochu will rush hard upfield, allowing the tackle to seal him off from the inside and push him past the running back. The Chiefs can also use misdirection to take advantage of the fast flowing Denver defense.
In the passing game, Mahomes and company need to identify the coverage, and then attack the best matchups. In zone coverage, the speed of the Chiefs’ receivers is too much for the linebackers in the middle of the field, creating lots of separation and easy completions. Kelce can even find some openings in the soft coverage in between the numbers. If linebacker Alexander Johnson gets manned up on a running back, the Chiefs will again have a speed and quickness advantage. Kansas City should also look to attack Kareem Jackson in coverage with double moves because of his over aggressive, attacking nature.