The Denver Broncos roll into Kansas City to play the Chiefs with more swagger than the team has had in a long time.
The big reason for that air of confidence comes from the play of rookie QB Drew Lock. No doubt, a big part of the Broncos winning will be offensive production, but none of that will matter without a big performance from Denver’s defense.
Kareem Jackson is coming off a week that saw him win defensive player of the week honors. Vic Fangio and Ed Donatell drew up an effective game plan against the Houston Texans. As Ian St. Clair mentioned on the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), using a similar defensive game plan will be key to getting a difficult victory in a seemingly impossible place to win in December.
In order to stop the Chiefs offense it is imperative that the Broncos limit the big plays down field. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce have had success in the past against Denver, and the big play downfield has been an issue this season.
Hey remember when everyone complained that the #Broncos couldn't defend tight ends?— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 11, 2019
According to DVOA, the Fangio D is a top 10 unit against them, and also a 4 D defending the middle of the field.
I’m not a numbers guy, but MHR’s Joe Rowles tweeted about the Broncos against the TE. Historically, Denver has struggled (understatement) defending TE, but this year is different. The concern has shifted to deep plays, where Denver ranks 19 in DVOA.
What does this mean? Most likely, it translates to a surprisingly close game. The defense has to step up and keep the game close. Guys like AJ Johnson and Todd Davis will need to hold down the middle of the field, limiting the damage Kelce could do. The defensive line rotation, including Shelby Harris, Mike Purcell and Adam Gotsis will be integral to limiting Patrick Mahomes.
A big part of stopping him is making him uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean allowing him to scramble all over and make plays. It means getting a push up front, playing containment on the edge, and harassing him in the pocket. Von Miller and Malik Reed don’t have to do more than keep Mahomes contained in a heavily trafficked pocket, and the rest will take care of itself.
As wins and losses go, this is a game the Broncos should lose. And I made the argument on the podcast that Denver doesn’t have to win for Broncos Country to come away from the game feeling good about the team. If the defense can limit the damage by replicating what they did in Houston, and the offense can continue to find success with Lock under center, this could be another of those Sunday shockers.
I’m not saying the Broncos are going to win, but this is Drewcember, and it feels like the Drew Train just might keep rolling.