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Broncos hope to take advantage of a beat-up Chiefs team on the short week

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Kansas City’s injured list is a mile long; can Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos take advantage?

NFL: Houston Texans at Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes’ ankle will have limited time to heal after Sunday’s loss to the Texans.
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday Night games are a cruel beast in the NFL world. Every snap in a football game mirrors the impact of a car crash on the human body, so every minute to heal makes a difference. By cutting three days of rest off a week, the league office cuts close to half of a players’ time to heal between games.

The short week creates a battle of attrition between teams, so one of the unsung factors that bears monitoring as the game creeps up is the injury status of all the participants. To get a little more information on the matter I spoke with Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney.

1st and 10:

With two straight losses and the national media continuing with the injury-marred narrative, what are the biggest concerns for Kansas City coming into this game? Is Patrick Mahomes hobbled?

The most significant issue for the Chiefs right now is Patrick Mahomes’ ankle, and it is compounded this week with only four days to treat it before Kansas City takes on the Denver Broncos. The past few weeks, Mahomes has looked comfortable at the start of games, and that has led to the magnificence we’re used to from the MVP. Once he re-aggravates the ankle, it has been a different story entirely.

Besides Mahomes’ ankle, the Chiefs are missing defensive tackle Chris Jones — one of the best defensive players in the league — along with starting left tackle Eric Fisher.

2nd and 8

When I looked at the practice report the Chiefs seem to have a lot of banged up offensive linemen. Is that an area where Denver may be able to find an advantage?

The Chiefs are onto their backup left tackle in Erving and their third left guard in Martinas Rankin. The Chiefs acquired Rankin from the Houston Texans right before the season for Carlos Hyde.

If the Chiefs keep the second-year offensive lineman in the lineup on Thursday, it will be his sixth career start and second start this year. So yes, there is much more of an advantage attacking the left.

On the right is right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and right tackle Mitch Schwartz, a three-time All-Pro and an individual who has found rare success against Von Miller.

3rd and 3

What’s the word on Sammy Watkins? Will he play? Have Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman impressed you with their playing time? Denver has banged up secondary, how scared should Broncos Country be?

Sammy Watkins has been ruled out for the second straight game.

Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have been able replacements who have each had one team-leading game each (Robinson had 172 yards against the Raiders in Week 2 and Hardman had 97 yards against the Ravens in Week 3), but neither of the two offers what Watkins offers to Mahomes and the Chiefs.

4th and 1

Tell me what you see happening for Denver to shock the NFL and beat the Chiefs.

If the Broncos can get to Mahomes early on and make him uncomfortable, they will significantly improve their chances of winning this football game.

Like the Ravens, the Broncos should try to score as much as possible, going for it on fourth down and if it makes sense, the two-point conversion.

Like the Lions and Colts, make the Chiefs face man coverage and rough up Kelce at the line.

Like the Texans, keep the Chiefs offense off the field and without opportunity with long, methodical drives.

Like them all, simply hand the ball off to Phillip Lindsay.

Prediction:

In Kansas City, I’ve been saying that I wish I did not have to pick this game because in my mind, it is that much of a coin-flip. With that in mind, I can’t bet against Mahomes, though I’ll feel much better about him after this game with 10 days rest. Chiefs 27, Broncos 24