The regular season is already almost halfway over as the Kansas City Chiefs look to host the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon. The AFC West division rivals met in Denver earlier this month in Week 4 when the Chiefs came out with a close 27-23 victory to improve to 4-0 on the season. Since then, a lot has changed for both teams as they get ready to face off for their second matchup.
Denver continued to go downhill as they lost four straight games before getting a much-needed victory over the Arizona Cardinals in dominant fashion. Broncos fans have turned against quarterback Case Keenum as the offense has failed to produce once again in 2018. There have also been rumors of Denver players being on the trade block the last couple of weeks signaling that the team is looking more toward the future than this season.
Kansas City has also seen some changes over the course of the last month. Patrick Mahomes finally threw his first interceptions and showed some signs of struggle, but has come back in each of those games looking strong as he figures out the defense. The Chiefs have also sustained numerous injuries including Justin Houston, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Tanoh Kpassagnon, and Eric Murray.
Patrick Mahomes has exceeded expectations as he leads his team against the Broncos at home on Sunday sitting on a 6-1 season record. The Chiefs, much like the Broncos, are coming off a dominant performance in primetime which means both teams are full of confidence. While Denver is clearly the underdog, the rivalry has proven to always be close no matter the record of either team.
As we get ready for this game, I wanted to get an inside look at the Denver Broncos looking at their thoughts on the upcoming game. Kansas City barely came out of Denver with a win last time when Patrick Mahomes had to carry his team to victory in the final quarter of the game. Speaking with Predominantly Orange writer Ty Walden, we discussed where we thought these two teams were ahead of Sunday. My first question was how much the dominant performance against the Cardinals would play into the matchup against the Chiefs?
TW: It was important as far as boosting the confidence of the team. They certainly needed it after losing four games in a row. I believe the mini-bye will help the team refocus on what worked and allow them to build on that confidence.
Denver’s not the only team to get a mini-bye week before taking on the Chiefs recently. The New England Patriots also had played on Thursday night the week prior to facing off against Kansas City and it seemed to help them. It’s also important to keep in mind that this will be the third time that the Broncos will face Mahomes considering Week 17 of last year.
When we look back at the last matchup between these two teams, Denver did a good job of disguising blitz packages to disrupt Mahomes. The Chiefs offense struggled after Sammy Watkins left with an injury and due to the pressure being brought by the defense. Mahomes was able to figure out the Denver defense in the second half which led to a comeback in the fourth quarter. Will Denver be able to figure something out on defense to slow down Mahomes offense again Sunday?
TW: If they can wrap him up and get him off his game, I would say yes. Denver might have a game plan from Arizona that could end up working. Pressure Mahomes. Cover the offensive weapons with the right players. Limit the Chiefs to under 30 points. And play a full 60 minutes of football. If they can do all of that, they should be able to get the win.
When it came to the Broncos offense, Denver was able to run the ball very effectively against the Chiefs defense gaining an average of 7.2 yards per carry. Most of that was due to hesitation and poor tackling for Kansas City’s defense. The Broncos have some young rookies in the backfield that have come on strong so far this season. Many of the rookies in this year’s draft class could be great additions for years to come.
Most of the issues for Denver’s offense this season has once again come at the hands of poor quarterback play. The Broncos have weapons at every level of the offense, but new addition Case Keenum has been unable to repeat what he did for the Minnesota Vikings last season that took the team to the NFC Conference Championship game.
TW: There have been mixed reviews. Most bad though. With the release of Chad Kelly, Keenum will really need to step it up. If the Broncos have a bad season, I would not be surprised if Denver looks to the draft to find their quarterback of the future.
While Kansas City is clearly ahead of the Broncos in the AFC West, both teams need a victory on Sunday to bolster their record for this season. Denver is hoping to get back on track to make a push for the West while the Chiefs are trying to hold a lead as the AFC leaders with the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers closely behind. This game could also decide what Denver elects to do the rest of the season with the trade deadline just around the corner.
TW: There have been reports that Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are no longer options for trades. Sunday’s game will really tell what the team does for the remainder of the season.
Week 8 looks to be a great game between these two AFC West teams. Both are coming off of a dominant performance, both teams could use a win to improve on the season and rankings, and the rivalry between Denver and Kansas City has always led to some good games. The Chiefs are the better team, but the Broncos could definitely make Chiefs fans sit on the edge of their seat.