I believe the Kansas City Chiefs are for real. But this week we find out just how real.
Entering the season, everyone expected that Denver would be right in the mix for a division championship, the top seed in the AFC and perhaps a Super Bowl berth. Fewer saw the amazing turnaround taking place in Kansas City.
The Chiefs were 2-14 in 2012. They were obviously better on paper, but through nine undefeated games, that has translated better than expected on the field. But critics abound. Easy schedule. An amazing run of games against backup QBs. And an offense that still isn’t putting up amazing numbers.
So, what wins? The seemingly unbendable Chiefs defense? Or the equally unstoppable Denver offense? Josh Michaels, writer for KCKingdom.com, and Kim Constantinesco, senior editor for Predominantly Orange, share their perspectives on the first of two battles that likely will decide who wins the AFC West championship.
WHY THE CHIEFS WILL WIN:
Kansas City gets almost zero respect when it comes to the national media. It’s understandable, considering they’ve played one of the weakest schedules in the league thus far. But despite the lack of credit, the Chiefs still continue to roll and win games the exact same way they did the game before: Ball control offense, outstanding special teams and elite defense.
General manager John Dorsey went shopping this offseason and particularly focused on defensive backs. The signings of Quintin Demps, Husain Abdullah, Dunta Robinson, Sean Smith, and the waiver claim of seventh round rookie, Marcus Cooper, have all been significant additions to this defense. Cooper has been nothing short of amazing. Through the first nine games there’s good reason to add Cooper’s name to the discussion of NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is currently ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in coverage and the No. 4 cornerback overall, according to PFF. He’s given up just 15 receptions on 39 passes thrown at him, and that completion percentage of 38.5 is tied for best in the NFL with Alterraun Verner of the Tennessee Titans. If you haven’t heard of Cooper yet, you’ll get a great look at him on Sunday Night Football.
Anyways, back to my point, Dorsey built this defense to win the AFC West. How do you do that? You build a defense strong enough to compete with quarterbacks like Manning and Rivers. Kansas City already had the linebackers, considering three of the four went to the Pro Bowl last season, but the emergence of defensive tackle, Dontari Poe, has taken this defense over the top. Poe has accounted for 4.5 sacks and disrupts the quarterback tremendously from the inside. Team him up with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston on the edge and it truly is pick your poison for opposing offenses.
With all that said, Peyton Manning has been sacked eight times in their last three games and was hit a total of five times against the Chargers last week. Here’s why the Chiefs will win, With Manning being banged up and playing with a leaky offensive line, the Chiefs will be able to apply pressure and get to Manning early and often. The Chiefs also can match them pound-for-pound when it comes to DB’s vs. Receivers. The Kansas City defense will press their receivers, taking away quick throws, and hopefully their “bread and butter” smoke screen to Demaryius Thomas, forcing Manning to throw the ball deep. Four of the six interceptions that Manning has thrown, have been made on attempts 15 yards or more down the field. Keep in mind, the last team to hold Denver to under 20 points was the Chiefs, when they did it last season at home in their first match-up. Andy Reid coached teams are 13-1 off their bye weeks and I like to think that success isn’t a fluke.
HOW THE CHIEFS COULD LOSE:
I mean c’mon, do I even need to write anything here? Denver’s offense is on pace to be the greatest offense ever. They lead the league in points, passing yards, passing touchdowns etc. You get the point. The Chiefs are eight point dogs because the general public feels like the Broncos offense will outlast the Chiefs woeful offense in the likes of a close game. Kansas City has only scored 30 points or higher once this season. The Chiefs have been given one of those magical seasons where everything seems to fall in place, like their schedule and the number of backup quarterbacks they’ve had to face. Many think that this Chiefs run is a fluke and that the run is over this week when they face the mighty Peyton Manning. No doubt, Denver is going to score and the Chiefs never play well in Mile High. Matter of fact, the Chiefs have only won there three out of the last 12 times they’ve played in Denver. If Manning gets in a rhythm and their offense hits big plays early and often, Kansas City’s offense might not be able to climb back from a 17-20 point lead by Denver.
I hate predictions, especially when it comes to the Chiefs. This game is huge, I mean really huge, for Kansas City to show the world exactly who they are. At the end of the day, if the Chiefs lose they’re still in great shape. They’ll be tied with Denver, going home to face the Chargers, while Denver goes on the road to face New England. After that, the Chiefs stay at home to host Denver for the second time in two weeks. The playoff tree will be shaping up big time over the next few weeks and it will be fun to watch. Now back to the point, if I have to make a prediction, I say Kansas City goes into Denver and hits them in the mouth. Everyone says no team can slow this offense down, I say bull. If you watched the Stanford vs. Oregon games over the past few seasons, then you will know exactly where I’m going with this. Smash mouth football vs. high flying finesse football, and the Chiefs shock the world and shut their critics mouths. Like I said earlier, Chiefs win 24-21.
Kim Constantinesco, Predominantly Orange (@PredomOrange)
WHY THE BRONCOS WILL WIN:
1. Sure, the Broncos have one less win than the Chiefs, but when they do win, they’re crushing opponents by more than two scores. The Broncos have won by 17.3 points on average while the Chiefs have won by 11.5 points. The Chiefs may have more experience closing out close games (they’ve won two games by one point), but if the Broncos have the ball in the final two minutes of a close game, it’s hard to bet against Peyton Manning.
2. Home field advantage goes a long way in the Mile High. There’s little chance that the Chiefs can outscore the Broncos at elevation. Keep in mind that a long scoring drive for the Broncos this season is anything over three minutes. Even if the Chiefs keep their game on the ground with Jamaal Charles and control the clock, they still have to put up touchdowns. They’re 26th in the league in red zone touchdown percentage. In the last three of four match ups where the highest scoring offense has played the highest scoring defense, the high-scoring offense has won.
3. In crunch time, the Broncos defense comes through with game changing plays. The Broncos are giving up plenty of points and yards, but whether it’s a sack or an interception to end a drive, the Broncos can close out a game defensively. Lately, the catalyst for these big plays has been Shaun Phillips and Von Miller up the middle.
HOW THE BRONCOS COULD LOSE:
1. The Chiefs hold an advantage over the Broncos’ offensive line, particularly on the left side where Chris Clark is filling in for injured Pro Bowl tackle Ryan Clady. Clark is solid, but when he breaks down, the results are usually disastrous. The combination of Tamba Hali and Justin Houston may prove to be too much, and if turnovers result for the Broncos, that’s when the Chiefs will have their chance.
2. With so much pressure up front, the Chiefs are the top scoring defense in the league. Their secondary is taking advantage of errant passes because of quick pressure to the quarterback. The Broncos’ receivers are talented, but the young guys seem to play for the pass interference call on deep passes. The Chiefs have some big and physical cornerbacks that will match up well with Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker, and the Brandon Flowers-Wes Welker matchup will be a fun one to watch in the slot.
3. The Chiefs had a bye last week. They had extra time to not only prepare for this one, but to rest as well. The Chiefs are fresh and after last year’s winless season against Denver, they’re anxious to prove that they’re the best in the AFC West. The critics have said that the Chiefs are the “worst” undefeated team in years, so there’s a lot of extra motivation going into this one.
This is the first time in 44 years that a No. 1 scoring offense has faced a No. 1 scoring defense with the two teams having a 9-0 and 8-1 record or better. With this one in Denver, the Broncos should come out on top. In a couple of weeks when the two face off again in Kansas City, a Broncos win will be much more difficult to come by. Prediction: Broncos 33, Chiefs 21.
Zoneblitz’ Take: I’m sold on Kansas City being a very good or even close to a great team. I’m not yet sold on the Chiefs being the best team in the NFL. But they deserve more respect than they’re getting for being 9-0.
And if they can win this game, particularly on the road, I’ll be more than willing to tip my cap and change my mind. But I don’t see them being able to score.
That’s not going to be a problem for Denver. The Chiefs definitely have the better defense. But Peyton Manning has found ways to burn the best of defenses in the past. And I think that’s going to continue this weekend. The vaunted Broncos’ offense won’t put up nearly the 41 points it’s been averaging. But it will score enough to take home a win in the first of two games between these clubs over the next three weeks. We’ll say Broncos 23, Chiefs 10.
Who wins Week 11's Game of the Week?
- Denver Broncos (55%, 6 Votes)
- Kansas City Chiefs (45%, 5 Votes)
Total Voters: 11