On Sunday, the Denver Broncos will play the first of two games that will essentially serve as their Super Bowl this season. In the Kansas City Chiefs, Vic Fangio and company will face off against a future Hall of Fame coach and quarterback surrounded by a talented supporting cast. To beat the Chiefs for the first time since Peyton Manning was wearing the orange and blue, Denver will need to bring their A-game. They’ll also need a few breaks to fall their way.
To dig deep into the matchup for this week’s Cover 2 Broncos, I reached out to KC Sports Network’s Craig Stout to discuss everything under the sun. What follows is a brief overview of the topics discussed as well as a few tidbits I chewed on as I worked through KC’s tape early this week.
Chiefs have the personnel up front to pound the Broncos between the tackles. If Fangio counters by bringing a safety down into the box, it will leave Denver vulnerable to deep overs. pic.twitter.com/XcZiJgZfa0— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 1, 2021
Chiefs’ offense vs Broncos’ defense
- One of the weirdest things about this 2021 season is how Patrick Mahomes seemingly looks mortal. Barring a scorching finish he’ll wind up with the least efficient regular season of his career to date. Is there anything to attribute this to?
- Among the scariest parts of the KC offense is how Reid puts teams in conflict as they try to defend both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce. In the past we’ve seen a good bit of 3X1 sets with Hill the #3 inside and Kelce alone on the other side of the formation as it can serve as a way to isolate linebackers and also creates the threat of deep crossers. Will that continue? Is there anything Denver can do against this?
- After the big 2, who could give the Broncos the most issues?
- Denver’s had a slew of issues against teams with the personnel to pound the ball between the tackles this year and KC’s interior OL is lowkey dominant. Will Reid try and establish the run in this one? Is there anything Denver can do to slow it down?
- It’s a bit surprising, but KC has had their fair share of struggles in the red zone this year, last I checked they were 26th by DVOA in the RZ.
- The Chiefs run 11 or 12 personnel on close to 90% of their snaps. They do have enough talent to be a problem for the Broncos’ front out of heavier sets.
- Reid is one of the best play callers in the league and has a real knack for devastating screens. He’ll also sprinkle in creative plays around the goal line that will test assignments.
- Rookie Creed Humphrey looks like he’ll be a Pro Bowl mainstay at center.
- Demarcus Robinson is probably the Chiefs’ best blocking wide receiver.
- Chiefs are a top 10 team on offense, hanging in the 20s on defense, and 1st on special teams
- Good run and pass offense.
- Bad in redzone
- By Adjusted Line Yards - very good in power situations, allow stuffs on 16% of runs, 31st in open field yards.
- ALY by direction - At their best mid/guard, but 19th or better everywhere.
https://t.co/TNdus1haTk pic.twitter.com/rwbPV3i9DK— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) December 1, 2021
Broncos’ offense vs Chiefs’ defense
- The season long stats could be a bit misleading when it comes to the Chiefs’ defense. They’re currently one of the worst defenses in the league by DVOA, but they just had -63.6% against the Cowboys and haven’t had a positive game since week 7 (negative is good when it comes to defensive DVOA).
- Is it a coincidence that the Melvin Ingram’s played in 3 of those games since the Titans content? How do will Spags use the former Charger on Sunday?
- Teddy Bridgewater faces more C3 shells than the average QB while Spags calls it a lot less than the average DC. What gives when the Broncos face the Chiefs?
- A lot has been made of Chris Jones sliding back inside after spending the early part of the year at five technique. Depending on Risner’s back, the Broncos may have to try and stop him with an interior consisting of Netane Muti, Lloyd Cushenberry, and rookie Quinn Meinerz. What can the trio expect from Stone Cold?
- It seems like the Broncos’ gameplan should look pretty similar to what they tried to do against the Chargers and Cowboys - establish the run with Gordon and Williams while leaning on quick game passing to protect the backup line and Bridgewater.
- The Broncos play roughly 90% of their snaps out of 11 or 12 personnel. The next most used grouping is 13, but they dabble in 21, and 22 and could use it in this game.
- Broncos have a ton of issues with allowing stuffs, but they’re good in power situations and a top 5 rushing team at the second and third level. If they can get Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon past the LOS they could be running for awhile.
- Steve Spagnuolo is all too happy to mix in pressure looks when opponents are in must-pass situations. You name it and the Broncos could see it: DB blitzes, overloads, and various games are all on the table.
- Chris Jones and Jarran Reed are a force that could cause a ton of issues for the Broncos’ interior.
- L’Jarius Sneed is the Chiefs’ best corner.
- Daniel Sorensen is a mark when he’s on the field.
- KC’s linebackers are among the worst Denver’s faced all year. Willie Gay has the tools but is still putting it all together, while Nick Bolton and Anthony Hitchens are better run stoppers than pass defenders.
CHIEFS D by DVOA
- Average pass D, mid 20s run D.
- By Adjusted Line Yards - Really bad in power (bottom 5), Stuffs on 15% of runs, bad vs 2nd and 3rd level runs.
- ALY by direction - at their worst defending mid/guard and RE. About average everywhere else.
- Pass D by target - weak vs WR2, TE, and RB. Very strong vs. WR3+.
- Pass D by direction - Top 10 vs. passes to left. Right around average in every other direction.
Teddy Bridgewater faces cover 3 more than average while Steve Spagnuolo calls it less than the average defensive coordinator.— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) November 29, 2021
What gives when the Broncos meet the Chiefs? pic.twitter.com/LkUeCE9SiJ
- KC has the best special teams in football by the numbers. They’re particularly good with kickoff and punt coverage, while they’ve been closer to average in both return games.
- Broncos special teams is a mess: eleven games into 2021 and the Broncos’ special teams are among the worst in football. In their last game they allowed a Brandon McManus field goal to get blocked. They’ve given up a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown; Devin Duvernay’s career-long, 42-yard punt return; and they’ve had three punts come painfully close to getting blocked, so it shouldn’t be a shock that the Dallas Cowboys blocked a punt. Dre’Mont Jones was called for a critical leverage penalty in the loss to the Steelers, which isn’t a surprise considering the Broncos’ teams under Tom McMahon are among the league leaders in penalties this season. On top of all that, Diontae Spencer is among the least effective kickoff return men in the NFL.
- Will David Taub to tilt the game in KC’s favor Sunday?