Like the rest of you, I'm excited for this game against the Chiefs. Denver has as good a team as we've had since Elway and Co. went back to back. In my excitement I've been paying pretty close attention to the goings on here at MHR and have even spent some time in the comments sections. The sniping between Broncos and Chiefs fans has been entertaining, and I can't blame Chiefs fans for trying to get in some licks as they've had few opportunities to get excited for, well, a long time. That said, the note of overconfidence from a lot of Broncos fans bugs me a bit. I've watched a lot of Broncos games since the 70s, and I've seen the Broncos lose plenty of times when I thought it was in the bag. Lesson? In the bag is a bad way to think about a game.
Now don't get me wrong. I believe that the odds are in the Broncos favor. If these two teams as currently constituted were to play ten games at Mile High, I expect that Denver should win seven or eight of them. In fact, I think if these two teams played each other ten times at Arrowhead that Denver should win six of them. I believe that Denver is fully capable of blowing the Chiefs out while I think the chances are remote that KC could do the same to the Broncos. Still, the idea that the Chiefs don't have a legitimate shot seems a bit silly to me. So let me do a little quick analysis based on just watching the games. No statistical arguments, just the evidence of the ol' glassies.
Why I'm confident:
1. The Chiefs can't score on offense. Trent Dilfer, erm, I mean Alex Smith has barely thrown as many TD passes this season as Manning did in the first game.
2. A related point: Denver has been playing much better defense overall the last couple of weeks. Von's presence has led to more pressure and helped the secondary out. Between point one and point two I think the chances of the Chiefs scoring more than twenty points are remote.
3. Another related point: Even when Denver has not played smoothly on offense they have scored points. When they play well they score forty or more. Even when they've played iffy on offense they've scored at least 28. If the Chiefs can't get to 20 and we score at least 28, we win.
Overall, I'm confident because I think the difference between the Broncos' offense and the Chiefs offense is much greater than the difference between the Chiefs' defense and our defense.
Things that worry me. Think of these as things that could much up the way the game rightly SHOULD go:
1. Jamaal Charles. He is an incredible back with big play ability. Denver, at times, has shown a propensity to let backs get lose for a big gainer. What Ryan Matthews turns into a thirty yarder Charles will turn into a house call. We don't get to use a good red zone defense if he can score from 40 yards out. So that cat going off could be an issue.
2. Stupid mistakes.Turnovers, penalties, dropped passes. The Chiefs 'cause turnovers. They either score points themselves or put their anemic offense in a position where they have to do far less to score. Denver, on the other hand, has had a propensity to put the ball on the ground. Heck, Manning has tossed a couple of pick sixes this season. Turnovers have created the scariest moments, and the one loss, that the Broncos have had this season. I don't see how an honest Broncos fan can't be a bit worried about this aspect of the match up. Add in our tendency to kill some of our own drives or extend opponents' drives with drops and penalties and I can see us inviting the Chiefs to hang around.
3. Pressure. Manning is an All-World QB but consistent pressure makes any quarterback's job harder. It makes turnovers more likely, it makes punts more likely, it makes it more difficult to win the field position battle, yadda yadda and so on and so forth. Denver has had some protection issues in recent weeks. Overall the line has been doing enough to let Manning get the ball out, but he's been getting the snot knocked out of him too often. Clark has played well but has been prone to giving up one or two big plays to the defense per game. And the Chiefs have demonstrated that they can get pressure. It concerns me.
Do I expect Denver to win this game. I do. At the same time, the Broncos have shown some weaknesses that a team like the Chiefs can exploit. I'm not fretting a whole lot, but this game is not in the bag.