The Denver Broncos are in the midst of a four-game losing streak, are 3-8, and are likely on the verge of being officially eliminated from the postseason. So, things are not going great, as we know, but things are likely to continue to be bad today as well. We have quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs.
The Broncos in the past have played Mahomes well, but have yet to defeat the former MVP/Super Bowling-winning quarterback as of yet during his career. Now, could they pull the major upset, and finally defeat Mahomes? I will cover that and more in my four things to watch during this AFC West matchup.
1. Will the Broncos finally beat Mahomes?
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes made his first career start vs. the Broncos and since then, has been a thorn in their side. He won that first career start and has continued winning since then. He has a perfect 13-0 record vs. our Denver Broncos which is, upsetting, at best. Now, he will look to improve to 14-0 today against a 3-8 Broncos squad in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
If I was a betting man (I am), I would bet that Mahomes moves to 14-0 against the Broncos (I did) and join the Walter/Penner ownership group since he continues to own the Broncos.
I want to be optimistic that this game might be the one, but it is hard to see it happen. This Broncos team cannot score points and has a defense that while dominant at times, has a hard time closing out a game. The Broncos will be down some more key starters and are heavy underdogs against a Chiefs squad that will be looking to bounce back after a tough loss to the Bengals last week.
2. Can the Broncos find the end zone?
Through the last three games, the Broncos have scored just two touchdowns. An early first-quarter score vs. the Raiders and another a week later in garbage time against the Panthers. Last week vs. the Ravens, the Broncos and I had the same amount of touchdowns.
In this one, we know Mahomes and the Chiefs are going to put some points on the board at the very least. The Broncos will need to probably find the end zone more than once and probably have to score more than 17 points in this one as well. Unfortunately, the Broncos have only scored more than 16 points twice this season. Which is hilariously bad.
So, I am not optimistic that we will see the Broncos find the end zone more than once in this one or score over 16 points either. This sucks.
3. Broncos will be down multiple starters
The injury bug continued to bite the Broncos this week. Wide receiver Courtland Sutton was ruled out prior to today’s game while guard Dalton Risner was ruled out last night as well. Meaning, the Broncos will be down two more key starters to an already thinned out roster.
Like last week, wide receiver Jerry Jeudy will be the Broncos' top wide receiver while Hall Of Famer Kendall Hinton will serve as the Broncos' number two wide receiver. We will see rookies Montrell Washington, Jalen Virgil, and Brandon Johnson mix in as well.
I would expect rookie tight end Greg Dulcich will receive a good amount of targets in this one as well. He will likely be the second or even top-targeted Broncos player in this one.
As for Risner, the Broncos elevated guard Dalton Risner off the practice squad to start in his place. This means the Broncos will have a backup at four out of five of the offensive line positions. This is not a recipe for success and is likely one of the few reasons for the decline in Russell Wilson’s play this season.
4. Defense needs to step up
This is obvious, but the Broncos' defense really needs to step up in this one. They have been the backbone of this team throughout this disappointing season and are now playing one of the better offenses in the entire league. So, we will need to see them do it again in this one, but at an even higher level.
The Chiefs are ranked 1st in yards per game with 423 yards, 1st in passing yards per game with 306 yards per game, and 1st in points with 29.2 points per game. Meanwhile, the Broncos' offense is dead last in points per game with 13.8 points per game.
So, the Broncos' defense is going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting in this one if they want to have a chance. The offense probably won’t score much, so they’ll need to limit the Chiefs to under two touchdowns and do a better job of closing this one out if they want to pull the unlikeliest of upsets.