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Denver Broncos at the Kansas City Chiefs: The No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos went to a cold and windy Arrowhead Stadium to face their division rival Kansas City Chiefs. I expected a tight, competitive game. Even I buy into the hype every now and again, unfortunately...

Peter Aiken/Getty Images

You guys know my all time favorite statement on the KC Chiefs: "21 years." It has been 21 long, winding years since the Chiefs have been relevant by my standards (winning a playoff game). The skeptic in me bought into the KC hype hook, line, and sinker. I should have known better.

The bottom line on KC is this: They have a great runner. They have a good defense. That's it. They are no threat down-field and they never will be with Alex Smith (the end of last season is now looking like an outlier in hind-sight). All you have to do is stop the run and they won't be able to put points up. Our team did just that and rumbled to a comfortable win in the cold, swirling air at Arrowhead.

Offense

C.J. Anderson

My eyes wept tears of joy

Yeah...this cat gets his own section. Last week I mentioned in my circles that it was just a one-week performance. I'm through with that conservative talk though. C.J. is the real deal. My eyes wept tears of joy watching him rumble, slash, and dash for yards all over KC's defense.

The kid has the goods, Broncos Country. He has everything you want from a RB: quickness, burst, power, vision, smarts, and receiving skills. I bolded the vision part because that's the biggest factor in what he is doing. Last week I said he looked like the most talented guy we had since Clinton Portis. Well, this kid is a little more close to Terrell Davis than Portis. Portis made plays with his speed more than anything. Davis made plays with his vision.

Also, let's give it up to him for that TD catch...that route was ran perfectly and caught in stride. He looked like a TE or WR running slant on that play. RBs usually don't look so smooth running routes out of the backfield.

That's what C.J. does. He sees the angles he needs to take to get more yards. He knows when to dive for yards because he is seeing the plays unfold and reading the defenders. I'm really impressed with what I'm seeing him do on the field and I'm looking forward to handing him the rock 25-30 times a game the rest of the year.

Offensive Line

I can't complain much here honestly. These guys did a really good job of getting guys open. Standouts in the run game for me were Orlando Franklin, Ryan Clady, and Manny Ramirez. These guys were busting open holes all game long.

I thought Louis Vasquez did pretty decently against a very threatening pass rush by KC, but there were about three plays I saw where he did not go out and engage the defender. Then his guy made the play...I don't know if he didn't understand his job, or if the guy he was defending was just too fast for him to shuffle in front of and he was playing his protection properly, but it looked ugly to me.

Will Montgomery was up and down, but this was really no different than Manny was at C earlier in the year. We haven't really lost anything by having him in. I do thing this new line helps our RT position though, which was a big problem earlier.

Peyton Manning

Peyton came out of the gates hot as Hades. He really threw well in the few opportunities he had to early in the game. But even then, his throws were always a little off. Wind really REALLY messes with his game. His TD to DT was underthrown, he had many MANY overthrows later, and was really looking pretty scatter-shot to me as the game wore on. His stats backed that opinion up too: 17 of 34 for 179 yards (2 TDs). That's not normal numbers for our stud QB.

I'm really okay with this though. I saw a lot of this kind of stuff late in John Elway's career. He learned to lean on the run game and trust his teammates to win it. There's something to be said for that really. When your team's identity is a finesse aerial attack and you have nothing else, you can be shut down.

But let's be real here: If it wasn't windy Manning probably throws for 4 TDs and another 100-200 yards against that team.

Receivers

Emmanuel Sanders still looks like the hardest working player on the offense in the passing game to me. He didn't get big stats, but it wasn't for lack of anything on his part. He made some pretty sick catches while being covered. I know we kept forcing the ball his way, but the defender on him really did look pretty good and played Sanders very well.

Demaryius Thomas didn't look super either, but his adjustment to catch that under-thrown ball was pretty darned impressive. That being said, his whiff of an easy touchdown was mind-boggling. It was one of the few missed passes where Manning threw the ball very well and the receiver totally blew it.

Why is Andre Caldwell dressing on game-day? Even then, why is he on the field? We are building a team that executes in every facet of the game, and this guy is like a big, pick scar oozing puss all over our well-oiled machine. If someone is going to ooze all over my beloved team's offense, at least let it be a young guy with upside so he can benefit from the reps for the love of everything good!

Alex Smith vs. Broncos

Photo: Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Defense

Front Seven

Let's start by giving our guys up front some serious props for stopping the run. Kansas City's core weapon is their run game and we completely shut it down. Derek Wolfe may not show up big in the pass rush situations, but that cat clogs and attacks on run plays headed his direction. Terrance Knighton too was a big force and was showing why we need to pay him this off season.

I thought this game was probably our best as far as end contain play by our ends. Demarcus Ware really held up well as did Von Miller.

When Kansas City did decide to pass, our pass rush was tenacious. We even spread the love around...I think six or so different players got credited for sacks this game. I knew the game was over when it got late and KC abandoned their run game. Ware, Malik Jackson, and Von Miller were constantly pinning their ears back and getting after it against an offensive line that was just flat-out out matched.

I thought our linebackers did a solid job of course in the run game, but the pass game was up and down. When KC had success, it was a lot of the time against our linebackers. If we have a big weakness on defense, it is our lack of coverage skills against TEs down the middle. KC didn't abuse that enough in my opinion, but I'm not going to complain about that. Even so, Brandon Marshall played another very solid game and was a stand-out. I'm excited to see Danny Trevathan get healthy so those two can be our nickel linebackers.

Secondary

Some crazy fool this past week told Alex Smith he should throw on Chris Harris Jr. Yeah. Dude got like 26 yards on 7 attempts doing that. Child Please!

You guys aren't going to think much of this, but shout-out to Tony Carter. He played very well in this one (as is typical). The significant thing here was that the refs were letting both teams get grabby which really benefits TC's style. He got called for one, but he made two good defenses that I saw where a tighter ref would have thrown one. Not many in Broncos Country may like him, but he's very good depth for our team and it was smart for us to keep him around this year.

I didn't notice Rahim Moore much this game. I think that is a very good thing given what I remember of him from the past couple of games.

Speaking of guys I didn't notice: Bradley Roby didn't really do much this week. That's a good sign in my book too. I'm tired of having to point out how much like a rookie he looks.

T.J. Ward probably played his best game as a Bronco this week. He was everywhere doing everything. He may have given up a pass here or there, but he was in on way too many plays for me to hate on him even a little this week. This was the kind of safety I was excited about getting this off-season.

Special Teams

  • I've heard a LOT of talk both ways about Connor Barth. Let me weigh in:
    • Dude looked like a legit kicker on every FG kick...who cares that they were short? They were all going through the middle without looking anything even close to a miss unlike most of McManus' FG tries.
    • His kickoffs sucked and most of us knew they would coming into this game. That's the down-side you take with this guy.
    • I think we could see a depth guy waived to get McManus back for kickoffs in the next couple of weeks in all likelihood. I don't think our coaches will go into the post-season like this, but they are kicking the tires to see if Barth can be good enough or not.
  • That fake punt blew my mind. That was such a super gutsy call and was perfectly executed. Big props to David Bruton Jr. for the call and the play.
  • Speaking of which, did any of you think our coaches would do such a thing ever? Neither did I.
  • Our coverage units looked pretty poor to me. This mixed with short kick-offs is a recipe for disaster honestly. Mistakes in ST returns play cost you 7, not 3.
  • Keep that turnover in perspective: it happened because of a horrid punt, not because of anything designed. Whoever recovered it did a great job of being aware.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

  • I love the run game working, but can we mix it up a bit please? When the other team thinks you are going to run, it is usually a good idea to pass and vice versa. More misdirection play action screens, etc.
  • Our 3rd down execution was a big steaming pile of dog crap in the 2nd half.
    • A lot of those failures came in the red zone.
    • A lot of that was because we stopped running the ball in the red zone.
    • The one place I missed Julius Thomas was in the red zone
  • Let's give some credit to Fox for being aggressive again in a nasty game and even looking a little fired up on the sideline (he usually doesn't seem that way).
  • While we're at it, Jack Del Rio has been driving me crazy all season with his lack of creativity on defense. He showed it in spades this game. He was blitzing from all over in very timely calls that made completely good sense. I loved it.
  • I mentioned this earlier, but the refs really let this game play fast and loose. Both defenses were hitting down-field, holding, etc. At least they were consistent.

Final Thoughts

I'm pretty fired-up for our team. That was the first complete game I've seen us play and it was in pretty poor conditions to boot. I'm hoping this is a sign of our team peaking at the right time. What do you out there in Broncos Country think? Are we the real deal? What are you worried about for our last four games of the season? Let us know in the comments!