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Scouting the enemy: Kansas City Chiefs

First game after the short-lived Hackett era, the Denver Broncos have a New Year’s Day bout with their toughest AFC West rival.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

In the most recent matchup between the Broncos and Chiefs in Denver, the Chiefs jumped out to an early 27-0 lead. But the Broncos came storming back, scoring two quick touchdowns to close the first half and a touchdown out of the gate on a huge run from Marlon Mack to open the third quarter.

With a solid second half, Denver looked like a team that could beat KC. The Chiefs answered with a touchdown to close the third quarter, but a Broncos’ drive in the fourth - and a touchdown pass from backup QB Brett Rypien after Wilson suffered a concussion on an 18-yard run just short of the goal line - the Broncos were in striking distance.

But an ill-timed interception from Rypien ended the game with Denver just short, 34-28.

Still, in the loss, the Broncos arguably had one of their best performances of the season, mounting a comeback, intercepting Mahomes, and also scoring more than 20 points - three things that seemed nearly impossible in every previous game.

Chiefs’ offseason moves

Key losses: WR Tyreek Hill, S Tyrann Mathieu, DE Melvin Ingram, CB Charvarius Ward, LB Anthony Hitchens, WR Demarcus Robinson, WR Byron Pringle, CB Mike Hughs, DT Jarran Reed.

Key Gains: S Justin Reed, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, RB Ronald Jones

2022 NFL Draft: Round one: (21) CB Trent McDuffie, (30) DE George Karlaftis; round two: (54) WR Skyy Moore, (62) S Bryan Cook; round three: (103) LB Leo Chenal; round four: (135) CB Joshua Williams; round five: (145) OT Darian Kinnard; round seven: (243) CB Jaylen Watson, (251) RB Isaiah Pacheco, (259) S Naeeh Johnson.

Chiefs’ since the last Broncos game

Since the scare against the Broncos, the Chiefs had games against the Seahawks and Texans. They won both games respectively and have officially won the AFC West.

In their game against Houston, the Texans did put up a nice fight, beating the Chiefs until the late fourth quarter. The Chiefs did survive the scare, winning 30-24.

When they played the Seahawks, though, it was a different story. The Chiefs dominated the game, holding the Seahawks scoreless until the end of the first half, going on to win 24-10.

Tanner’s three keys to victory

  1. The offensive line needs to get a push

Russell Wilson has been sacked a total of 19 times in the last three weeks, which is horrible, but it gets worse.

The Broncos have allowed 57 sacks this year and could possibly set a new franchise record for sacks allowed. The current record is 63 sacks. The Broncos' offensive line will make or break this game; they must give Russell Wilson time in the pocket.

2. Contain Mahomes

Like last time, Mahomes is the most talented quarterback the Broncos will play, and they did a good job of containing him as he had one of his worst games of the year against Denver. If Broncos want a chance to win, they will have to contain him in Arrowhead.

3. Stop the run

The run defense this year has not been good, allowing 4.4 yards per carry, and this year have allowed 1,761 yards on the ground. In just their last three games, they have allowed 320 rushing yards. After Cam Akers tore up the defense for 118 yards and three touchdowns last week, the defense will have a lot of work to do to stop the run.

Tanner’s prediction

After firing Nathaniel Hackett finally, and naming Jerry Rosburg the interim head coach, there are a lot of questions coming into this game. But I still expect the offense to struggle because of the offensive line issues, and 6-8 sacks is very possible. The offense will not be able to get going.

The Broncos should consider themselves lucky if they score more than 17. The Defense is going to let Mahomes cook, 300 passing yards and three touchdowns is what I will call.

With Mahomes having an MVP-caliber day, they will beat the Broncos 28-10.