The 7-4 Chiefs will host the 8-3 Denver Broncos at Kansas City in a very intriguing match this Sunday night. This should prove to be a game with enormous playoff implications no matter what the result. The Denver Broncos were among the favorites all season to get back to the Super Bowl and possibly win it. For a while, it looked like they on track to meet such lofty expectations, and that they were going to run away with the AFC West division. The Chargers began to slip after a hot start earlier in the season, and Kansas City had started off the season in a very rough manner, losing their first two games.
That all changed when the Chiefs turned their season around by winning seven of their next eight games to become very relevant in the playoff picture. When the Broncos, a team that most people assumed were on the verge of running away with the best record in the AFC, suddenly lost two games earlier in November, the race in the AFC West became a dead heat. It looked like the meeting between the two teams would showcase not just the two leaders in the division, but two of the top teams in the league.
Yet, in a season that has been anything but predictable, the Chiefs last week wound up being surprised themselves in a shocking upset against the formerly winless Raiders, a team that had not won a game in over a year prior to their victory against Kansas City. In the meantime, the Broncos had a tough challenge against the Miami Dolphins, but rallied from behind to win a huge game. Some were even suggesting afterwards that the Broncos possibly saved a season that seemed to be on the verge of slipping away by finding a way to win that game when they were not playing particularly well.
This game is surely more of a must win for Kansas City than it is for Denver. The Chiefs already lost the earlier meeting that these two teams played this season, and find themselves one game behind the Broncos in the standings presently. Should they lose this game, it would mark their second straight loss in a row, and both of them would have been to divisional rivals. Simply stated, the Chiefs cannot afford to lose this game, as the Broncos would then hold what would appear to be an insurmountable lead of two games over the Chiefs, with only five games left in the season. Plus, the Broncos would hold the tie-breaker, and would place make any hopes of entertaining a division title for the Chiefs out of reach.
If, on the other hand, the Chiefs manage to win, they would suddenly find themselves in a first place tie with the Broncos atop the AFC West, and possibly also with the San Diego Chargers, should that team manage to win at Baltimore this Sunday. All of that makes for a very intriguing weekend coming up in the the AFC West, and particularly with the Chiefs host Broncos in this second and very intriguing match between these two teams this season on Sunday Night Football.
The thing is, Kansas City has their work cut out for them, as they have not managed to defeat the Broncos since quarterback Peyton Manning joined Denver back in 2012. The Broncos offense is largely centered on Manning and his passing game, although the Chiefs have the top rated defense in the league against the pass. Manning could potentially be without Julius Thomas, who has been one of the most explosive and reliable targets for him this season. Thomas has been having ankle problems and is questionable right now for the game. Yet, the Chiefs defense will be missing a key element as well. Cornerback Eric Berry is out for good after doctors found a lump that is suspected to be lymphoma was found on his chest. That said, Kansas City could play an emotionally charged game as a result of the news about Berry.
Ironically, despite Denver’s passing game and Kansas City’s pass defense being among the elite units in the league, the Broncos do not have a strong running game, particularly on the road, while the Chiefs run defense also ranks surprisingly low, considering their tough defense against the pass. However, Kansas City’s running game on offense is one of the best in the business, and this sets up a huge showdown against Denver’s tough run defense. The Chiefs passing game is a liability, however, and there are a lot of question marks about how effective this unit, which is will be this weekend.
All of that makes the Chiefs hosting the Broncos in KC a very intriguing match on Sunday. One major advantage for the Chiefs could be home field, as they have compiled a 4-1 record overall at home, and are generally tough to beat in Kansas City. In the meantime, the Broncos have a surprisingly tough time when playing away from Mile High Stadium, having only won two of their five road games so far this season.
Commentary by Charles Bordeau
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