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Broncos vs Chiefs preview: How does Denver pull an upset?

For the Broncos to give Kansas City its first loss of the season, here’s what we think are the keys.

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MHR Radio Podcast

Rivalry weeks are always special.

Fans know to expect the unexpected. Fans of the Denver Broncos got their first taste this season with a Week Two 20-19 come-from-behind win over the Oakland Raiders. It’s the latest evidence that anything and everything is possible in a rivalry game. That’s true for the next opponent the Broncos face — the Kansas City Chiefs. There have been some all-time classics from these two teams.

If you sensed a “but” on the horizon, you were right. The usual excitement Broncos Country feels for this rivalry has been replaced with, “but do we have to?” Even the most optimistic Denver (2-1) fans know Monday Night Football against the Chiefs (3-0) could get ugly. Hopefully the old adage is true, “when two rivals meet, the records don’t matter.” That might be the only way the Broncos have a chance.

On the latest MHR Radio Podcast, Adam Malnati and I search for any way Denver can pull the unthinkable (we don’t think there is, by the way).

Offensive Rankings

Kansas City: Seventh in overall offense (398.3 yards), 15th in rushing (103.3), seventh in passing (295.0) and first in points (39.3).

Denver: Tied for 11th in overall offense (382.7 yards), third in rushing (144.7), 16th in passing (238.0) and 19th in points (20.3).

Defense Rankings

Kansas City: Thirty-second in overall defense (474.0 yards), tied for 18th in rushing (111.3), tied for 31st in passing (362.7) and 30th in points (30.7).

Denver: Fourteenth in overall defense (340.3 yards), fourth in rushing (77.7), 22nd in passing (262.7) and 16th in points (23.3).

Here are our keys to the game.

Run the football

The best way to slow down Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense is to keep them on the sideline. For the Broncos to do that they have to run the football. Good for them that’s what they’re good at through three games on offense. Kansas City’s defense is hot garbage, but don’t get into a shootout — not with those weapons. Eat clock with long, methodical drives that finish in touchdowns but also exhaust the Chiefs defense. In turn that keeps Denver’s defense as fresh as possible for the Orange Rush to get after Mahomes and limits the miles the Frequent Flyer Zone can give away. — Ian St. Clair

Flip the script

Denver has been playing back on first and second down hoping to get to third down to bring the sizzle. So far, that hasn’t worked, and Mahomes will shred the Broncos if they try that again this week.

Blitz from the first snap and don’t stop. Mahomes is a young quarterback who is operating great within Andy Reid’s scheme, because they have been dictating pace and matchups. Don’t let them. Is it more risky? Sure, but we know what we’re going to get if we don’t take a risk. Don’t allow him to pick his spots, force him to one or two choices based on pressure and having to throw hot, and close out on that option.

Rattle him and make him uncomfortable, and maybe Denver has a chance to shake up that jauggernaut offense.

One thing I know is that doing more of the same isn’t going to work. — Jeff Essary

Control tempo

The Chiefs offense may be a pick your poison proposition for the Broncos defense. This will be a huge test for the offense. What we saw from Kansas City against the Pittsburgh Steelers is its inability to stop anyone. The Broncos will need to do the same. Case Keenum will need to control the tempo of the game. If the offense can keep pace, they should be able to come away with a win. — Adam Malnati

Return of the No Fly Zone

Secondary has to find a way to keep the game in the 20s. That’s on Joe Woods. He has to mix the coverages and keep Reid and Mahomes off balance enough to give the Orange Rush time to get home. If he fails to do that, Denver has no chance. —Just_JoRo

Sign extra defensive linemen

The purpose for this is to hit Mahomes on literally every play. We will get lots of personal fouls and many ejections, but it’s the only chance the Broncos have. Otherwise, we are staring down the barrel of a 20-30 point defeat. — Pete Baron

Be ready for the MNF lights

Denver needs to be ready to execute from the opening kickoff. None of this “settle in” nonsense. The Chiefs won’t wait for the Broncos to get into a groove. Adjustments need to be made on the fly, and both coaches and players need to be ready for implementing them. — Casey Barrett

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?