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Mahomes’ 4+ TD-per-game average will ‘be an appetizer’ if Broncos’ secondary doesn’t tighten up

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Associated Press reporter Arnie Stapleton tells the guys at 1st and 10 @ 10 that the Broncos do have the firepower to beat the Chiefs - but they can’t keep playing undisciplined ball.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

If the Broncos’ defense plays against smokin’ hot Chiefs on Monday Night Football the way it did against the Baltimore Ravens, what Patrick Mahomes has done so far to his NFL victims is going to be “just an appetizer” compared to what he’ll do at Mile High next week, Associated Press’s Arnie Stapleton tells Orange and Blue Radio (*editor’s note: it’s a great interview with one of the best Broncos’ reporters, so give it a full listen.)

“They’re giving up a lot of points too,” he noted, pointing out the Chiefs offense averages 39 points but its defense is also giving up an average of 32 points per game. However, a more sobering stat is that the Chiefs’ secondary is allowing an average of 8.0 yards per pass play while the Broncos’ secondary is averaging 8.2.

Yikes.

So that means one simple thing, says Stapleton.

“You have to ask yourself, is this [Broncos] team ready to win in a shootout,” Stapleton said, “and I would think looking at yesterday, no.”

There are several glaring problems with the Broncos right now - a thin secondary, poor quarterback play and an undisciplined offensive line.

While Stapleton was disappointed to see the O-line regress in Sunday’s game, he is more concerned about the non-existent No Fly Zone and the bad decision-making from Case Keenum.

“If the Broncos are not able to bolster secondary, it’s going to be hard to hide that flaw against Kansas City’s offense,” Stapleton said. “So then you have to hope you can muck it up enough to win in a shootout - and again, Case is not playing like Case Keenum of last year. He looks like a rookie just coming into the league.”

And with Mahomes’ 13 TDs v. 0 INTs compared to Keenum’s 3 TDs v. 5 INTs, the “better quarterback” is obvious.

The turnovers in the red zone and the bad decisions in general are killing the offense, and it’s not as if this offense doesn’t have major weapons with a stacked wide receiver corps, a dynamic running game and tight ends who can work the middle of the field.

“They do have the firepower,” Stapleton said. “Can they get it all together in eight days? Are they going to be disciplined and coached up right? Is Billy Musgrave going to have something up his sleeve for the offense? Because you know Andy Reid will.”

These questions don’t have nice answers right now, but the AP reporter of course believes the Broncos can turn things around and even beat the Chiefs.

The question is if they will.

The lack of discipline - which he believes starts with the coaching - is the x-factor here.

“They were ill-prepared for the setting, for the game [against the Ravens],” Stapleton said, adding that the unraveling that occurred midway through the second quarter was a flashback to 2017.

“That goes back to the non-discipline - and that goes back to the coaching staff because either you’re coaching that way or you’re letting them get away with it,” Stapleton said. “Either way, you don’t have control of the team.”

But Stapleton is not all gloom and doom about the team or its coaches. He does think Monday night is a huge test, though, to see if this really is a different team - as they have been saying - or if it’s more of the same 2017 implosion waiting to happen.

“We let a golden opportunity slip away ... and we’re going to have to staunch this. Last year, they fell into that funk and couldn’t stop it for two months,” Stapleton said, adding that the measure of a good coaching staff is if the team can get past this loss and its poor play. “It’s a huge, huge test. I don’t care who’s coming in Monday night. Have they made the break from last year? The way you show that is coming out on Monday night and putting together a good game.”