Hello, Denver Broncos fans, and welcome to my first writing piece for Mile High Report!
For this first performance behind the keyboard, I have interviewed Pete Sweeney, editor of Arrowhead Pride, to exchange questions and answers about our thoughts on this Monday Night’s matchup between longtime AFC rivals the Kansas City Chiefs and Broncos.
Check out my answers regarding Denver over at ArrowheadPride.
1. A lot of Broncos fans and media believe that Case Keenum and the offense have a chance to run the offense they want to. The Chiefs and their secondary, without safety (and usual Broncos killer) Eric Berry, who do you expect to step up in covering Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, and Courtland Sutton?
A: Truth be told, I don’t like the Chiefs secondary, and I haven’t since the beginning of the year. It is a big part of the reason why I picked the Los Angeles Chargers (Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen) and Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown) to beat the Chiefs in Weeks 1 and 2 of this year. Don’t worry, Chiefs fans have been happy to remind me of how wrong I was. I think the Denver Broncos’ units pose a problem. The matchup of Thomas and Sanders against the likes of the cornerbacks behind Kendall Fuller—Steve Nelson and Orlando Scandrick—doesn’t make me feel great, but as a I quickly learned, the 2018 Chiefs don’t necessarily need to be successful but rather successful enough. Do I expect the secondary to blank the Broncos? Absolutely not. But we know now that if they can keep the Broncos around 21, that should be enough. With Eric Berry unlikely to play once again, I have liked what I have seen from Eric Murray, a third-year player, at the safety position in recent weeks. I think he is a bounce or two away from a big play.
2. A growing number of teams are altering their travel plans for away games this year. The Seahawks and Raiders both flew into Denver on Saturday, in hopes of avoiding any serious jet lag or performance issues. The Broncos did something similar when traveling to Baltimore. What are the Chiefs plans for traveling to Denver? What is your opinion, travel early in the week or the day before?
A: One thing I have learned about head coach Andy Reid in covering him over the past five seasons is that he loves a routine. What that means is he does everything in his power—whether it be a game on the West or East coast, in London, playoffs, etc.—exactly the same. Like every other week, the Chiefs will travel the day before the game, getting in sometime Sunday afternoon.
3. Patrick Mahomes has shown that he’s ready to take on the NFL. He’s been pretty damn perfect so far, but the saying goes “all good things ...” (something we have learned in Denver a time or five). Aside from the obvious (not being careful with the ball, losing focus, etc) Is there anything you want him to NOT do against the Denver defense?
A: I think if there is any complaint to be made about Patrick Mahomes (and trust me, you’d be reaching right now), it is that he is still adjusting to an NFL pocket. Our own film and draft analyst Kent Swanson broke down this week, “when variables get added after the snap (his read is covered, has to step up, has to make a subtle adjustment in the pocket) and Mahomes can’t scramble out of the pocket, he struggles to process those variables and gets inconsistent.” I have also found that he sometimes cuts it too close when scrambling—he could be a bad decision away from being badly hurt by putting himself too far out there.
4. Is there anyone in the NFL that can cover Tyreek Hill (besides Chris Harris Jr.)? Aside from his legs breaking, how would you choose to cover him?
A: I don’t. Tyreek Hill emphasized improving his route-running this offseason, and it has shown through the first three weeks of the regular season. He is making catches that remind me of Steve Smith and Antonio Brown, and I suspect by season’s end he will be right there with the top receiving yards in the league. You can’t press Hill because of his lightning speed, so my best guess would be to have your fastest cornerback play off, while bringing safety help. I would not want to be an opposing defensive coordinator against this year’s version of Hill.
5. If you had to choose any two Chiefs players that Broncos fans aren’t that familiar with to watch for on Monday Night Football, whom would they be, and why should we watch them?
A: The Chiefs’ leading tackler is Anthony Hitchens with 32. He was brought to the Chiefs from the Dallas Cowboys this past offseason to improve run defense, and he is helping to do that through three weeks this season. Hitchens and Reggie Ragland vs. the Broncos dynamic ground game will be one of the matchups to watch. Dee Ford had a groin injury last game but was back to practice on Friday. If Ford cannot play his usual number of snaps, expect rookie Breeland Speaks and second-year linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon to be in the mix. Speaks was the Chiefs’ top pick last season (remember, they had no first-round pick), while Kpassagnon was taken in the second round back in 2017. Both are still developing and have shown flashes of above-average play on the EDGE.
Note: As I said, I picked against the Chiefs Weeks 1 and 2.
Chiefs fans have been waiting a very long time for what is about to take place on Monday night, if my prediction is correct. It isn’t AFC West success — the Chiefs have that, winning 17 of their last 18. It isn’t success against the Denver Broncos — the Chiefs have that, winning their last five matchups in a row after losing their previous seven. What I am talking about is going into Denver and blowing the Broncos out of the water. The last time the Chiefs won by more than two scores in Denver was January 3, 2010 — Derrick Johnson had two pick-sixes and Jamaal Charles set the Chiefs’ single-game rushing record with 259 yards in a 44-24 rout. The win knocked the Broncos out of the playoffs. The Chiefs can’t knock the Broncos out of the playoffs this Monday night, it being this early in the season, but with some Broncos already saying they will treat it like a championship game, the game has heavy implications. If Kansas City wins, it will lock in a two-game lead on the rest of the division through one-fourth of the season. I think they accomplish that, and they make it look easy. The Chiefs offense is too hot, the Broncos defense seems too questionable and I think the Chiefs defense does just enough. Chiefs 45, Broncos 21
Always appreciate the opportunity and enjoy the game, Broncos fans!