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Scouting the enemy: Kansas City Chiefs

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The Denver Broncos travel Arrowhead Stadium to face off against the Kansas City Chiefs in a must-win divisional game.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The rivalry between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs is one of the most historic in all of football. Their upcoming battle on Monday Night Football will be the 115th time the two teams have squared off on the gridiron. It’s close, but the Chiefs lead the all-time series with 59 victories compared to 55 wins by the Broncos. History and tradition are important, but surely all fans across Broncos Country want is for Denver to take care of business on the road and defeat the Chiefs in Arrowhead.

If they do, the Broncos’ tumultuous season could head on the path to normalcy. If they don’t, it may all be over but the crying. A loss in Arrowhead wouldn’t be the final nail in the coffin for Denver’s season, but it would be catastrophic in terms of playoff implications, as well as devastating in respect to the overall morale of the team moving forward. Let’s be real here folks — it’s a must-win game for the Broncos and you shouldn’t believe otherwise.

The Chiefs started off red hot to start the season with five consecutive wins, but have faded the past two weeks with consecutive losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. The Broncos began the season 3-1 and proceeded to fumble away a golden opportunity to gain ground on Kansas City, but opted to do things the hard way with embarrassing losses to the New York Giants and Los Angeles Chargers. Both teams are desperate for wins, and whoever comes out the victor on Monday Night Football will gain a tremendous amount of momentum for the final half-stretch of the season. The loser of the game will certainly be left wondering what went wrong and have the prospects of a playoff birth fade before their eyes.

Key Match Ups

Denver’s Rushing Defense vs. Kareem Hunt

The Denver Broncos boast the second best rushing defense in the NFL, trailing only the Philadelphia Eagles in that regard. In 2016, the Broncos were one of the worst in the league giving up 130 yards on the ground per contest, but the rise of Adam Gotsis, as well as the fantastic play of Domata Peko on the interior have greatly helped the Broncos this year. For the 2017, the Broncos are only giving up 71.8 yards per contest. They will have to make sure they keep up the good work against the Chiefs this weekend, who boast one of the league’s most impressive running backs in Kareem Hunt.

The rookie phenom from Toledo has taken the NFL by storm and through seven games has amassed 717 yards on 124 carries, sporting a 5.8 yard per carry average and racking up four touchdowns on the ground. All together, he has over 1,000 all-purpose yards and has been one of the most dominant rookies the game has seen at the running back position. There is no doubt he is one of the game’s most dynamic players and a game-changing back that must be accounted for every time he touches the ball.

After an impeccable start, Hunt has come down to earth a bit in the Chiefs’ two consecutive losses. However, he is one player that the Broncos’ defense cannot afford to overlook on Monday. If Denver can stuff the Chiefs’ potent running game and force Alex Smith to make plays through the air against the No Fly Zone, they just might have a fighting shot at coming out of Arrowhead with an upset victory.

Trevor Siemian vs. The Kansas City Chiefs’ Passing Defense

Denver fans were hopeful that Siemian had turned the corner and was on the path to becoming a solid NFL quarterback after he and the Broncos receivers trampled the Dallas Cowboys’ secondary in the second week of the season. Since then, his play has been nothing short of disastrous and one of the main reasons for the Broncos’ fall from grace over the past several weeks. In fact, there are many across Broncos Country who believe the third-year pro should be benched for his horrendous play as of late.

As of now, I’m not one of those people — but if he fails to get the job done against the Chiefs on Monday Night Football, I will most definitely be in that camp. The Chiefs’ secondary runs a lot of man coverage schemes (the most in the NFL), so it will be up to Siemian to find the open receivers beating man coverage and beat them through the air. The Chiefs’ secondary has been inconsistent all year long and ranks 28th in the league in passing yards given up per game. If there is a game where Siemian has the chance to rebound, this certainly would be it.

Siemian doesn’t need the best performance of his life to help lead the Broncos to victory, he just needs to move the chains, be consistent on third downs and show efficacy in the red zone. He needs to capitalize on the opportunities he is given and avoid giving up key turnovers that put the Broncos’ defense in bad positions. Thirteen points a game offensively is offensive and isn’t going to cut it against the Chiefs. He has to be better and yes, his teammates on offense need to give him some help too.

If they don’t, it could get ugly quick under the bright lights Monday night.

Hart’s Prediction

If Denver wants a chance at saving their season and turning things around for the last half of the 2017 campaign, they have to win at Arrowhead. Period. If they don’t, it’s safe to say that their season will be over. Monday Night’s contest will reveal the true identity of this year’s Broncos’ team and I believe that the team can turn it around and come out with a big victory in several days.

I expect the Broncos’ defense to contain Chiefs’ weapons Hunt, Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce enough to give the offense a good enough shot at winning the game. That being said, I am confident Mike McCoy can come up with a viable game plan to help Siemian succeed against a vulnerable Chiefs defense. Denver has to get the ground game going. With Jamaal Charles set to return to Arrowhead, it will be an emotional contest for him and there is no doubt he is hungry and wants to prove letting him go awas a mistaking. In the passing attack, get the ball out quick, utilize short passes to churn out some yards and when they are back on their heels toss it deep. It isn’t going to pretty, but it will be good enough to get the job done.

Broncos 23, Chiefs 17.