OK, so, when I came up with the idea of a "Challenge" between MHR and AP pitting our respective defenses against each other for the last eight weeks of the regular season, I had it in mind that both of us would be Top 10 (probably somewhere between 6-10) type defenses -- the Chiefs slowly fading from their '85 Bears start and the Broncos putting things together as Von Miller worked himself into game condition and guys like Wesley Woodyard and Champ Bailey got healthy.
A nice little competition that, at the time at least, seemed like an easy winner for the Chiefs but with the Broncos showing enough promise to make things interesting.
Suddenly, though, this thing has turned into a Race to the Bottom. Peyton Manning, Phyllis Rivers and Tom Brady make a living off of making defenses look bad, so I don't think either side needs to hang its head in shame.
At least not yet.
But the early results are, well, kind of embarrassing...
Houston and Hali
Before I get to the stats, I wanted to say a couple of words about Houston and Hali and the impact their injuries had on last Sunday's KC/San Diego game.
LIKE ANYBODY GAVE A FLIPPING FLIP WHEN WE WENT INTO DALLAS SANS VON AND CHAMP AND THEN LOST WOODYARD, HARRIS AND NACHO DURING THE GAME.
Sorry, AP, there's no crying in football...
I'll get straight to the punchline. Here is where the Challenge stands after three weeks:
Metric #1 (Yards per possession): BRONCOS LEAD (28.25 - 38.11)
Metric #2 (Points per possession, net of defensive scores):BRONCOS LEAD (1.60 - 1.86)
Metric #3 (Turnover percentage): CHIEFS LEAD (17% vs. 15%)
OVERALL, THE BRONCOS LEAD THE CHALLENGE, 2-1.
Here are the drive charts from the past two weeks:
First, the Broncos/KC game.
|1||14:04||DEN 47||KC 36||17||Field Goal||3||0|
|1||11:05||DEN 27||DEN 36||9||Punt||0||0|
|1||8:18||DEN 3||DEN 27||24||Fumble||0||1|
|1||5:28||DEN 16||KC 0||84||Touchdown||7||0|
|2||13:23||DEN 21||KC 0||79||Touchdown||7||0|
|2||2:55||DEN 20||KC 34||46||Missed FG||0||0|
|3||15:00||DEN 20||KC 40||40||Punt||0||0|
|3||12:51||DEN 20||DEN 24||4||Punt||0||0|
|3||8:06||DEN 20||DEN 34||14||Punt||0||0|
|3||5:24||DEN 35||KC 0||65||Touchdown||7||0|
|4||11:48||DEN 20||KC 18||62||Field Goal||3||0|
|4||4:56||DEN 20||DEN 32||12||Punt||0||0|
|4||2:50||DEN 46||DEN 40||-6||Punt||0||0|
Next is the Chargers at Chiefs, as the Chiefs had to contend with their first major turmoil of the season and the sting of their first loss the week before.
Chargers at Chiefs, Sunday, Nov 24
|1||12:46||SD 23||SD 32||9||Punt||0||0|
|1||9:29||SD 45||KC 12||43||Field Goal||3||0|
|1||1:37||SD 30||KC 35||35||Punt||0||0|
|2||6:23||SD 18||SD 20||2||Punt||0||0|
|2||3:03||SD 20||KC 0||80||Touchdown||7||0|
|3||15:00||SD 28||KC 0||72||Touchdown||7||0|
|3||9:00||SD 40||SD 43||3||Punt||0||0|
|3||6:09||KC 16||KC 0||0||Touchdown||7||0|
|3||2:12||SD 28||KC 13||59||Field Goal||3||0|
|4||9:32||SD 32||KC 0||68||Touchdown||7||0|
|4||5:41||SD 21||SD 25||4||Punt||0||0|
|4||1:22||SD 22||KC 0||78||Touchdown||7||0|
Ouch. 38 points allowed on their last eight drives. Zero turnovers. Of course, for the Broncos, things weren't all that much better:
Broncos at Patriots, Sunday, Nov 24
|1||13:08||NE 24||DEN 40||36||DEN TD||-7||1|
|1||9:54||NE 28||NE 21||-7||Fumble||0||1|
|1||8:54||NE 24||NE 44||20||Fumble||0||1|
|1||2:57||NE 29||NE 48||19||Punt||0||0|
|2||12:48||NE 21||DEN 30||49||Downs||0||1|
|2||6:10||NE 20||NE 43||23||Punt||0||0|
|2||1:12||NE 8||NE 15||7||Punt||0||0|
|3||15:00||NE 20||DEN 0||80||Touchdown||7||0|
|3||8:19||DEN 32||DEN 0||32||Touchdown||7||0|
|3||2:01||NE 35||DEN 0||65||Touchdown||7||0|
|4||14:32||DEN 30||DEN 0||30||Touchdown||7||0|
|4||12:22||DEN 47||DEN 13||34||Field Goal||3||0|
|4||3:06||NE 20||NE 29||9||Punt||0||0|
|OT||12:21||NE 18||NE 37||19||Punt||0||0|
|OT||4:50||NE 20||NE 43||23||Punt||0||0|
|OT||3:01||DEN 13||DEN 13||0||Field Goal||3||0|
Four touchdown drives IN A ROW. Double ouch! Two of those four TD drives came with a short field, but still, a somewhat ugly performance against an elite offense.
So, Where Do We Go From Here?
The forecast for Sunday in Arrowhead is 48 degrees, mostly cloudy, 20% chance of rain. Let's go with the thought that, as of now, weather will not be a factor.
For KC, Hali will be back, but undoubtedly gimpy. Houston is out.
For the Broncos, DRC is day-to-day. Champ, if he's back, won't be much of a factor.
So, both teams are a bit shorthanded, but don't expect sympathy from teams like the Patriots, Giants and Bears who have been decimated with injuries on defense.
I may be swimming upstream here, but I think you're going to see both teams open up their offenses into an old fashioned AFL-type shootout. Broncos jump out early, Chiefs chase with more success than we would expect.
On paper, that's not the kind of game the Chiefs want, but I thought they actually did OK in a shootout-style game last week. They just didn't get the turnovers they've become accustomed to from third-string QB's. Start churning more turnovers, and this team could actually get dangerous again.
Don't force more turnovers, and the Chiefs may just be picking up steam in their Race to the Bottom.