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The numbers seem to indicate the Broncos have the advantage when they travel to Arrowhead to face the Chiefs. Broncos fans know better, however, since we have seen many strange things over time in our travels to the Show Me state. The Broncos are looking to 4-0 and win consecutive regular season games in Kansas City for the first time in nearly 30 years. Can they get it done? Let's find out.
It's Broncos/Chiefs. Who has "The Edge"?
The Chiefs could line up both their quarterbacks under center and wouldn't equal the production or skill level of Jay Cutler who is quickly becoming an early MVP candidate. It is still early, and Cutler has made a couple mistakes that remind us of his youth and inexperience, but when the Broncos absolutely NEED a play, Cutler has made it. The trip to Kansas City has not been a pleasant experience for any quarterback in Orange and Blue over the years, but Cutler is 2-0 against the Chiefs, including a solid 17/29 - 192 yard performance in last years 27-11 victory.
What will be interesting to watch is how the Broncos choose to attack the Chiefs. While the stats are a bit skewed because the Chiefs have been behind big in 2 of 3 games so far, the Chiefs pass defense is still ranked 4th in the NFL, while the run defense is a putrid 31st in the NFL giving up over 200 yards a game. Regardless, the Broncos have a heavy advantage at the most important position on the field which is always a good start.
Perhaps I am throwing the Chiefs of a bone here, but the Broncos have yet to really establish the type of running game I think they are going to need as the season moves on. That could change this week, against one of the worst run defenses in football(see above).
Look for the Broncos to try and get Selvin Young going. He has shown flashes this season of getting started, and enjoyed one of his best games as a pro last season in Kansas City(20 car. 109 yards). Michael Pittman will likely continue to be the short-yardage back, as well as the guy the Broncos look towards when they want their running back to make a catch out of the backfield. Andre Hall will see some action as well, though after a solid debut Hall has been a non factor.
The Chiefs still go to Larry Johnson and he will be the most talented Running Back on the field. Despite being mostly un-competitive this season, the Chiefs are still in the top half in regards to rushing offense. Expect them to try and control the ball using the running game, even though it is the Broncos pass defense that is the team's weakness. The Chiefs cannot afford to get into a shoot out, and a strong game by Johnson, and as well as Jamaal Charles, a former college teammate of Selvin Young who is a similar runner to the Broncos running back.
Two of the games premier young receivers will be on display, with Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Bowe. Unlike Marshall, who seems to be on the cusp of greatness, Bowe has been up and down in his young career, showing flashes of brilliance around cases of the dropsies. Bowe will be a tough matchup for the Broncos defensive backs, however, because of his size. The Broncos will also have to account for Tony Gonzalez who figures to be a big part of the Chiefs game plan. Damn Huard isn't the type of QB to take many chances downfield and has the experience to look for #88 when he gets in trouble.
For the Broncos, Marshall will be unstoppable against either corner he should happen to face. On one side is the veteran, Patrick Surtain, though his status is in question duw to a shoulder injury. Surtain is a shell of his former self, however, and Marshall should have his way. On the other side is a rookie, Brandon Flowers, a former teammate of Broncos WR Eddie Royal at VT. Flowers is one of 4 rookie DBs the Chiefs have on their roster, and on paper the Broncos should be able to take advantage of that to throw the ball at will.
I look for the Broncos to use alot of motion and formation sets to create matchup problems, with Marshall, Royal and TE Tony Scheffler primed to have big days.
How the mighty have fallen. A few years ago the Chiefs owned the best offensive line in football. A few years later it might be one of the worst. Age and free agent defections have taken their toll, and the Chiefs are in the process of rebuilding the line, but it is coming slowly.
Like Ryan Clady in Denver, Branden Albert is learing on the job, starting at Left Tackle as a rookie. Unlike Clady, however, Albert is taking his lumps. Damien McIntosh isn't faring much better on the right side. The Chiefs are getting decent play from C Rudy Niswander, but would be stronger today if they had their former center who will be across the field and in the opposing locker room.
The Broncos made several key moves during the off-season, both in the draft and in free agency, but none may have been more important than the addition of Casey Wiegmann. Wiegmann was brought in to backup Tom Nalen, but with Nalen unable to make it out of Training Camp, Wiegmann, who has started well over 110 games in a row, has been more than solid in taking over for Nalen and has anchored a line that has given up 1 sack all season. Along with Ben Hamilton, Clady, Ryan Harris and Chris Kuper, it is the Broncos that now own one of the best lines in football.
Perhaps I should give the advantage to the offenses, because neither D-Line has really gotten it going so far in 2008. The Chiefs traded away one of the best pass-rushers in the game, and despite drafting Glen Dorsey early in the 2008 draft, the Chiefs have been dominated up front so far. Tamba Hali is a bright spot for the Chiefs, however, and his presence is nearly enough to give the Chiefs the nod.
For the Broncos, DeWayne Robertson is questionable coming in and will likely take the afternoon off. That means it will be the youth of the Broncos that will need to get it donw up front. Jarvis Moss, Marcus Thomas and Tim Crowder will all likely be active and play big minutes against the Chiefs and the time has come for the 2nd year trip to start paying some dividends for the Broncos.
In the end, the Chiefs D-Line might be better overall than Denver's, but I think the Broncos will have greater success because of the opposing O-Lines. With that, I'll call it even.
Nate Webster is playing as well as at any point since the severe knee injuries that nearly ended his career. He scored a touchdown off a fumble recovery for the second time as a Broncos, and ironically, did it the first time last season in Kansas City. He has brought an energy and intensity to the Broncos defense not seen since the days when #56 played MLB.
D.J. Williams is also playing the best football of his career, and has immediately proved the Broncos wise for signing him to the big contract extension. D.J. is playing at a Pro Bowl level and should continue to get better now that he is locked in at WLB. The Broncos showed a 4 LB look last week against the Saints, and it will be interesting to see if they do the same this week with the Chiefs likely to try and run the ball to control the clock.
For the Chiefs, there just isn't that much talent at linebacker. Veteran Donnie Edwards still might be playing the best of the bunch, but he'll miss the game with an injury. The Chiefs thought they had a game changer in Derrick Johnson, but he hasn't been the same player since a successful rookie year and may have already peaked. After that, the Chiefs send out some has beens and never will be's like Napolean Harris and Demorrio Williams.
Sure, the Broncos secondary has struggled through the first 3 games, but I am going to tip my cap a bit to the opposition before bashing the Broncos D-Backs. It still comes down to which group has more talent, and with Champ Bailey, the Broncos win that battle. This is the game I look for the Broncos defense as a whole to show everyone in the League they aren't as bad as the numbers have shown the past couple of weeks. Maybe this is the game that Jack Williams gets on the field as well.
I spoke about the youth of the Chiefs above, and against the Broncos passing attack I expect this group to really struggle.
.For the first time this year I am giving the special teams edge to the Broncos. From top to bottom, the Broncos have more talent than the Chiefs, and this often shows itself on Special Teams, when coverage units are filled with players from the bottom of the roster. I also think Matt Prater has proven himself a worthy replacement for Jason Elam and Brett Kern has been solid in the few opportunities he has had to punt.
The Chiefs don't have that explosive return game that used to give the Broncos fits, and conversely I think the Broncos could be the team that comes up with a big play from the return game.
Is Herm Edwards even paying attention. There is little doubt that Edwards is starting to feel the heat in Kansas City. Think about it. There were no delusions, the Chiefs are in full rebuild mode. Even so, they have been so bad, losing their last 12 regular season games dating to 2007, that even realistic Chief fans who knew times would get rough are starting to question the path Edwards and Carl Peterson seem to be on. There are teams as young as the Chiefs, like the Packers for instance, yet the Chiefs, like their neighbors to the East, have been completely un-competitive in a League designed to give everyone a chance to win. If the Chiefs continue to play like this, Edwards could be the fall guy.
After a week "off", the Broncos head right back to the AFC West looking to sweep the first half of their divisional schedule. A win in Kansas City would also give the Broncos 2 road wins within the division. There aren't many sure things in the NFL, and I won't go far to say that this game is a sure thing, but if the Broncos are going to do something special this season, whatever you think that is, this is the type of game they should dominate. The Chiefs won't make it easy, but this Broncos team seems to have that certain "IT".
Maybe that "IT" is Jay Cutler. Cutler has the perfect attitude to be a dominant road quarterback, and personally I think he'll be a better quarterback on the road than he is at home. He played lights out in Oakland to start the season, and I expect the same thing in Kansas City. The Broncos grab the lead early and never let it go.
FINAL PREDICTION: Denver Broncos 30 - Kansas City 13.
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