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Chiefs vs. Broncos Preview: Will the Streak End Sunday?

Almost half of the season will be in the books after this weekend and the Kansas City Chiefs are owners of a six-game winning streak. This week they have a rematch with the Denver Broncos who they defeated two weeks ago 19-8 on a beautiful Thursday Night in Kansas City. On Sunday, the host cities are reversed, and Denver will look to end the Chiefs crazy 16-game-win streak over the Broncos.

A week ago, the Los Angeles Chargers were on the losing end of a division matchup where they fell 31-17 to our Kansas City Chiefs. Relatively speaking, the score wasn’t that close. The first half was an absolute slugfest which I anticipated. It started to look like a shootout, but the Chiefs defense shut out the Chargers in the entire second half. For the season the Chiefs defense has kept their opponents to an average of 15.0 points per game. That stat gives the Chiefs the number two defense in points per game in the NFL. They also own the number four scoring defense.

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The Chiefs have the best record in the AFC with the second-best offense in the league in yards per game. The combination of a top-five offense and a top-five defense should put to bed any concerns this team is balanced on both sides of the ball. No one can predict the remainder of the season but any concerns about Patrick Mahomes and the offense should be put to rest.

We can always argue about the skillset of the teams’ playmakers in certain positions, but putting those naysayers aside, this is the most complete Chiefs team in the Andy Reid era. I like to think that once a team has a true leader in Reid, and trust in General Manager, Brett Veach, who is invested in fielding a quality product, great things will come of it.

For the Head Coach, Reid will be considered one of, if not the greatest coach in NFL history when he retires.  Add that with, Tight End, Travis Kelce, who arguably is the greatest tight end of all time. He’s a first-ballot lock for Canton not just because he makes plays, but he’s also a selfless leader and a shining example for all the young guys in the locker room.

Then there is the new GOAT, Patrick Mahomes, who will likely become the greatest quarterback and possibly the greatest football player of all time by the time his career is over. He takes the role of leadership and teacher to another level. This trio is one for all and all for one.  

It’s clear if this trio stays together, the AFC West will be owned by the Chiefs for the foreseeable future. That means Division Titles, AFC Title Games, and Super Bowls remain the singular goal for this team.  To repeat this year as World Champions, the nature of this team is gaining clarity each week.  Thus, if the keys to the Kingdom remain in the hands of Chairman Clark Hunt and Brett Veach, this team will be championship-ready, year after year.

This week the Chiefs have a chance to extend their winning streak to 17 straight wins. To put this in perspective, this streak began when the Chiefs defeated Peyton Manning in what would become his final NFL season back in 2015.  

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Like I said a couple of weeks ago, the brain trust at One Arrowhead Drive should not discount this division tilt. It has all the makings of a trap game. The Broncos have some solid pieces, but the sum of the parts hasn’t resulted in wins. Russell Wilson may be on the back side of a decent career. Yet, he does have the ability to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Last week the Broncos managed to sneak by Green Bay for a 19-17 in a game that was in doubt until late in the fourth quarter.  Packers Quarterback, Jordan Love, and Wilson had similar stat lines with Wilson going 20-29 with 194 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions with a QBR of 98.9. Love went 21 of 31 for 180 yards, 2 scores, and a pick with a QBR of 90.8. WR Courtland Sutton was the only Bronco to get a touchdown and Green Bay receivers, Romeo Doubs and Jayden Reed each had a touchdown. Neither team had a rushing score while Packers kicker Anders Carlson made one field goal and Denver kicker Wil Lutz put four through the uprights.

The difference was the kicking game. The Chiefs have a definitive edge on kicking if it comes down to it. I don’t expect the game to be that close, but the Chiefs will continue to get every team’s best shot as defending champs.

By comparison, Patrick Mahomes put up 424 yards passing going 32 for 42 plus four touchdowns and one interception. His QBR for the game was 129.5. He was only sacked once by a Chargers defense that has typically harassed opposing signal callers. The Chiefs offensive line was prepared for the Chargers pass rush, and it showed. Chargers QB Justin Herbert went 17-30 for 259 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked five times and ended with a QBR of 68.6.

Looking at the ground game, Denver was able to rush 25 times for 145 yards with no touchdown, and at times the Chiefs have been susceptible to the run.  RB Javonte Williams had 15 carries for 82 yards and rookie UDA RB Jaleel McLaughlin got the rock 5 times for 45 yards. Wilson only ran it once for 21 yards. By contrast, Isaiah Pacheco got the ball 13 times and only ran for just 32 yards while Mahomes took the ball to the ground four times for 29 yards. The total rushing for the Chiefs was 68 yards and no scores.

Of course, everyone says when you’ve got Mahomes, the ground game is secondary. I prefer to see a better mix of rushing and passing. The only way to keep a defense honest and off base is by running the ball. I understand Reid’s preference, but you need to get the ground game established early on for the best chance to make the air game more explosive.

Only time will tell if the Chiefs exploit their rushers and increase their game plan each week with more running plays. I’m always cautiously optimistic when it comes to seeing what the game plan is as the game progresses but eventually, KC’s run game must take the next step.  

In reality, this game shouldn’t be close, but it is a division game and that will factor into the final score and how the game is played. Whatever the outcome, we can rest assured that it will be entertaining between two of the original AFL members.

My Prediction:

Chiefs 38 – Broncos 17

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