The Denver Broncos are again in must-win mode. Lose and their 2016 hopes for a playoff berth will be dashed. Win and they stay alive into the final week of the regular season.
It won’t be easy as the Kansas City Chiefs are usually a tough out at home during the month of December. In fact, the Broncos are a paltry 3-13 in Arrowhead during December games.
Our consensus score for this game is 18.8 to 18.5 with the the slight edge going to the Chiefs. Since this is a Broncos blog, we’ll go ahead and round this up to a 20-19 win for the Broncos!
Chiefs 16, Broncos 10
The Denver Broncos offense has been putrid recently. Unwatchable. It has been more than a little frustrating, and now Trevor Siemian has the unenviable task of heading into Arrowhead Stadium in December with the Broncos playoff hopes in the balance. Not exactly the Christmas present that Broncos Country has been dreaming about. With visions of three and outs dancing in their heads, one can only hope that the coaching staff will do something to put the offense in a better position to succeed. It's a long shot, but Christmas miracles happen all the time.
And the silver lining on this potential holiday nightmare? The Chiefs have been beatable. The Titans went in to Kansas City and proved that the Chiefs could lose at home in December. The defense will be looking to redeem itself after the uncharacteristic collapse a few weeks ago. Kansas City won't muster more than 16 points this week, but with the way things have gone on offense in the last few weeks, that should be more than enough. The defense will get a touchdown, and do everything it can to keep the Broncos in the game, but it won't be enough. Kansas City wins 16-10. Barf. - Adam Malnati
Broncos 24, Chiefs 21
No T.J. Ward, Brandon Marshall, A.J. Derby, or Virgil Green. Derek Wolfe hasn't practiced all week, meaning if he does play, he may be more a body than an impact. Davis and Ware are also far from being healthy. All these guys were in our last match-up. Plus, we had Andy Janovich. Matt Paradis is so banged up, he is now not practicing except for a walk through.
Parks subbing for TJ might not be a big deal, but the rest sure are. Smith may not be seen as a high yardage QB, but he can be dangerous. He has a several weapons, but stopping Travis Kelce and Hill will be crucial. With our banged up defense, I see giving up a couple scores. The good news is that KC is terrible in the RZ. It's outside the RZ with a deep strike from Smith or a long run from Ware that will be the concern.
Our offense is missing so many, it's going to boil down to how much can Justin Forsett get done. DT, E and Sunshine will be used often I'm guessing since even if a TE is activated from the PS, don't see him being a factor. We're going to need KC defenders to blow a few coverage's.
By now, Trevor is healed, so he should be mobile. I swear, if the four calling plays, Kubiak, Dennison, Knapp and Tanney don't get him moving every quarter, I may fire up my sleigh and dive bomb all four of them. I know Siemian will be down several key assets, but If Denver wants to win, relying on just him throwing from shotgun or drops backs, won't get it done. A moving Trevor is a good Trevor.
Andy Reid is Gary Kubiak. Both like conservative play calling, both like the same type QBs, both have strange time management calls. Both are dependent on their players executing. This game will come down to which QB performs better. I've yet to pick against Denver and I'm not going to now, with a caveat. Four quarters of a mobile Trevor and OL, 24-21. - Julie Dixon
Broncos by 3
Listening to docllv (all dressed in her Grinch “Santy Claus” suit),
Kubiak changed his playbook and drew up some jukes.
He added more bootlegs, and toss sweeps no doubt.
Threw in the flea flicker, fake punt and crossing routes.
Forsett was listed as the unequivocal starter,
Better third-down plays were added – and these were much smarter.
The Chiefs will be thinking, "Oh, it’s Siemian, he’ll definitely pass.
So we’ll double cover the left side and sprint down the grass."
But with these new plays, the Broncos will RUN to the left, to the right and right up their a**!
So when game time arrives, and the coin is flipped.
If the Broncos get the ball, no need to bite a lip.
Because maybe just maybe, this offense isn’t too bad.
Maybe, just maybe, this offense will make us glad.
Every lineman will be blocking, and Forsett will get the ball.
He will run and run and run – just like it’s protocol.
The defense will do what it always does well.
Slamming the quarterback and ringing his bell.
A pick six or two should round out the day.
The Broncos win by three because this time they all came to play.
- Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
Chiefs 27, Broncos 9
One thought keeps running through my head as I think of a way to voice my prediction: The Grinch. To get even more specific, the scene where the Grinch's heart grew three-times bigger on Christmas Day. That's not going to happen this Christmas for the Broncos. Trevor Siemian's arm won't magically get three-times stronger or accurate or his decision making three-times wiser. The offensive line won't get three-times better at run blocking. The offensive play calling won't become three-times more creative. Perhaps the only way Denver sees this "three times" story play out is on the scoreboard, where the Chiefs score three-times more points. Fittingly, the Broncos will score three-times more points than they did last week. - Ian St. Clair
Broncos 23, Chiefs 20
Nothing exemplifies the Broncos and Chiefs rivalry like December football at Arrowhead Stadium. The freezing temperatures, the sea of red in the stands and games with playoff implications have long been a part of this rivalry when there is late-season football in Kansas City. This Christmas night match-up will be no different. The season is on the line for Denver and its going to take a win in one of the NFL's toughest venues to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This season has been one of complete frustration as the Broncos continue to boast one of the most dominant defenses the NFL has seen in recent memory. Denver's defense has been keeping the Broncos in every game this year and still has the ability to make the Broncos legitimate Super Bowl contenders. There is only one problem, the Broncos' offense is about as productive as Tim Tebow's baseball career. There have been reports of building tensions in the Broncos locker room for weeks and after a disappointing loss to the hated New England Patriots, it appears those tensions have boiled over. The defense is fed up with the offenses' inability to produce the bare minimum amount of production, which is only what is needed to win games with a defense of this caliber.
While the Broncos try to keep the wheels from falling off, their Christmas Day opponents are having problems of their own. The Chiefs squandered away their lead in the AFC West and quarterback Alex Smith is playing uninspired football. If there was ever a time to grab a road win in Arrowhead, the time is now.
Defensively, the Broncos will need to focus their attention on tight end Travis Kelce and the NFL's newest breakout star, Tyreek Hill. The Broncos have been notoriously vulnerable against tight ends and Kelce may be the best route running end in the game. Denver's safeties will have to play extremely well to stop the big man. With Hill, there is no stopping him, the Broncos will have to play disciplined football and stay home on the edges to slow down the young speedster. Look for Aqib Talib to match up against Hill in obvious passing situations and look for more A-gap and B-gap pressures from Wade Phillip's defense as our outside linebackers and defensive ends will need to stay home and play containment against Hill when he lines up in the backfield. If the Broncos can limit these two weapons, and do a decent job of limiting the Kansas City run game (Attention Riley Dixon: DO NOT kick to Hill), the Chiefs do not have a lot of fire power left to put up points and the Broncos should be in position to get the win.
Offensively, its the same story every week for this Broncos team. The offensive line needs to protect Trevor Siemian and coach Kubiak needs to commit to the run while letting his young gunslinger loose to run the whole offense and throw down field. This offense does not need to score 30 points. If the Broncos can use the clock to their advantage, give their defense time to rest and score touchdowns in the red zone, they will win. The problem is that this offense has not been able to do that all year and now do we really expect them to protect, run and score touchdowns in the red zone now? Because the Broncos have no choice, the answer is yes. - Derek Ahrnsbrak
Broncos 20, Chiefs 9
Turn back the calendar 362 days to Week 16 of last year. We were fighting for our playoff hopes and it was a very real possibility we might miss the playoffs as we were coming off of a two-game losing streak. Sound familiar? Now we've talked all season about the differences between this squad and that Super Bowl winning team, but the reality is, this team has an opportunity to respond and show what they're made of.
Regardless of what happens with the rest of the AFC and playoff race, how Denver plays these last two games will say a lot about the team and set the tone for how they go into next year. Will we see the snowy Cincinnati game of last year, or will we see the team that gave up a safety, subsequent TD return, and squandered an 8 point lead to the likes of Alex Smith?
That's the 155 million dollar question. - Jeff Essary
Broncos 20, Chiefs 17
For six seasons either Denver or New England has been the number one seed in the AFC playoffs and this season should be no different, what also won't be different this season is the AFC playoffs will feature the Denver Broncos.
"How?" You may ask, "You're crazy!" Others may say, what I say is that it's tax time. Gone are the excuses, earlier this season it was being unable to stop the run on defense, but the Broncos fixed that. In the last five weeks, Denver's run-defense has given up 141 rushes for 530 yards and 2 touchdowns. That's 3.76 yards-per-carry, against guys like LeGarrette Blount, DeMarco Murray, Chris Ivory, Spencer Ware and Mark Ingram. Enter the excuse that Denver can't run the ball, well Justin Forsett is averaging 3.83 yards-per-touch since joining the Broncos nearly three weeks ago. Maybe we should go with the fact that Denver's offensive line can't block, the Broncos offensive line has given up 40 sacks this season, but 8 of those are on Ty Sambrailo. You take him out of the equation and Denver's sitting just behind the Atlanta Falcons at 20th (it should also be pointed out that 9 of those 40 sacks happened without Trevor Siemian being on the field).
Maybe it is Siemian, but he had 368 yards and 3 touchdowns earlier this season when the Kansas City Chiefs were in Denver and still lost. Denver was 1 for 3 in the red zone and 9 of 20 on converting 3rd downs (thank you 4th quarter!). Siemian has also won only one game since the end of October and that was the game against the New Orleans Saints where one should probably give credit to Will Parks and Justin Simmons for that miracle of a block and run back. So really, either Siemian is playing because Denver is forcing him to at gun point or because Gary Kubiak refuses to give up on a player no matter how hard they Jordan Norwood-up the place.
So, it must be the drops... Yes, of course, the drops. Nope, not them either, Denver is currently tied as a team for 11th best in Drops Percentage (2.9), meaning only 10 teams in the NFL have less drops than the Broncos.
The excuses are gone, it's not the offensive line (for pass blocking nor run blocking), it's not the run game, it's not the receivers, it's not the run-defense. There's only one thing left circling the drain and yes, much like in seasons past this team lives and dies by the quarterback. It's on Trevor Siemian, he must win the next two games if the Broncos get into the playoffs as they deserve to this season. Let's see what he's really made of, after that they can waive him, trade him, injured reserve him or whatever it is they want to do with him, but I'm done, because this isn't even fun anymore. Paxton Lynch could have gone 1-6 to end the season at least then the team would know what they had in him and if he had, what would they say? "He's not ready, needs time to develop." Lynch is still the only Broncos quarterback to win a game since Thanksgiving and that win was against the 3rd best pass defense in the NFL. So he passed for 108 yards, Tom Brady just passed for 188 yards against the 1st best pass defense. _NO ONE_ thinks that he needs time to develop. - Ian Henson
Broncos 24, Chiefs 20
Ummm, okay. So quarterback rants aside, I am changing my score prediction from earlier in the week from a Chiefs win to a Broncos win. It’s time for one last gasp from a proud football team. In fact, the only reason I’m giving the Chiefs 20 is because they are at home. I just feel like the defense is going to bring it in this one and Kubiak will finally get his head out of his rear end and stick with the run game. It’s going to be close, but I’ve got to continue to believe!!
Merry Christmas! - Tim Lynch