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Contenders or pretenders? MNF matchup will prove if Broncos can be for real

It’s not whether the Broncos CAN beat the Chiefs, but it might be whether they can GAME PLAN to beat the Chiefs.

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

Good morning, Broncos Country!

It goes without saying there is a lot riding on the Broncos-Chiefs game on Monday Night Football.

It’s primetime and that’s always the time to shine.

Obviously it’s a divisional game, and just from a psychological standpoint, those are big games to win.

And the win-loss record among AFC West teams is primo when it comes to important victories (or devastating losses). If the 2-1 Broncos upset the 3-0 Chiefs, they hold a top spot next to their division rivals, which will be key for any shot at the playoffs this season. Likewise, dropping to 2-2 while KC surges to a 4-0 lead in the conference could prove too much to make up in the end.

But those are just numbers, and as just the fourth game of the season, a lot can still change in the rankings.

No, the more critical aspect of this game is not so much the outcome as it is the preparation. And I’m not talking about practice; I’m talking about game planning.

Can Vance Joseph and his coaching staff come up with a complete - yet fluid - game plan that is a winning formula against a smokin’ hot Chiefs offense but a tepid Chiefs defense?

If they can, Broncos win this no doubt - Mile High Magic and all that.

But if they cannot, then this game will send a clear message to future opponents - the Broncos, despite their weapons, can be out-schemed.

“Yes, it’s going to be a total team effort. Obviously, our offense has to score points, but also move the ball and burn the clock for us. Defensively, we have to go out there and do our jobs,” Joesph said, adding that the defense has to get quarterback Patrick Mahomes into third downs, something previous opponents have been basically unable to do. “It’s our job to win the first and second down on defense and get off on third down. Offensively, we have to keep drives alive, convert third downs, burn the clock and score points.”

He’s right, of course, but how the Broncos are going to do that when the offense has been unable to play a complete game so far with finished drives, no turnovers and no big penalties, and the defense has been unable to stop just about everyone’s passing game, it’s easy to question just how well this team can perform on Monday night.

We know the Broncos have many of the tools they need to win. The offense truly has depth at “playmaker,” and the defense has a line and group of edge rushers that can get after anybody if unleashed to do so.

The key piece missing is a game plan that schemes away from the Broncos’ weaknesses and is aggressive with their strengths - putting players in the best position to play their best games.

In their first three games, the Chiefs have outscored their opponents in the first quarter 49-6. Despite a rather weak defense, Kansas City is keeping teams from starting fast. Then it’s scoring fast and generally giving opponents an edge in time of possession. But so far that hasn’t mattered because even as teams begin scoring, Mahomes & Co. keep coming back with scores too.

With that in mind, the Broncos can’t start slow by being too conservative and risking three-and-outs or just hoping to long, sustained drives will keep up with a high-octane offense like KC’s.

“It’s going to be a challenge to start fast, to play great defense and for our offense to score points,” Joseph acknowledged, adding that keeping an eye on Tyreek Hill for special teams is also required. “In all three phases, it’s going to be a challenge. But again, we’re looking forward to it.”

I’ll tell you what I’m looking forward to - a game plan that says it understands the kind of players Broncos have and recognizes the kind of players the Chiefs have.

I want to see an aggressive pass rush the entire game. Mahomes is going to score. The best chance Broncos have is to constantly pressure the QB and force him to make some mistakes, so the secondary can take away at least some of the Chiefs’ chances in the red zone. And for gods sake, cover Travis Kelce like a wet blanket. Josey Jewell perhaps???

The Broncos offense needs to be equally aggressive and play up-tempo, getting the ball to Phillip Lindsay, Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and Courtland Sutton.

What’s riding on this game is not whether the Broncos can win. It’s whether VJ & Co. can scheme how to win.

Horse Tracks - docllv’s picks of the day

Former Bronco, first black starting QB, reflects on changes in game, society |
Marlin Briscoe, drafted as a cornerback by the Denver Broncos, told the team he'd return home to become a teacher if he couldn't get a tryout at quarterback.

The roughing the passer rule is the NFL’s newest self-created crisis – The Athletic
Clean hits, the kind the league has been urging players to make for years, are now illegal if they involve a quarterback, and games are suffering as a result.

Horse Tracks

Broncos Film Review: Denver’s loss in Baltimore
Review the key moments from the Broncos' first loss of the year with highlights from NFL Films and analysis from Broncos TV's Phil Milani, Matt Boyer, Steve Atwater and Ray Crockett.

The Neutral Zone (Ep. 08): Concentrating on the Chiefs
Phil Milani and Aric DiLalla look back on a Week 3 loss to Baltimore (1:02), talk with Bradley Chubb about his first sack (11:30), hear from the Kansas City Star's Brooke Pryor about Patrick Mahomes' fast start (17:06) and preview this week's game against Kansas City (34:59).

Not too long ago, the Broncos' newest punter was delivering pizzas and lived with his parents |
Colby Wadman is on the Denver Broncos practice squad.

Sub-par start by Marquette King not unnoticed by Vance Joseph
A familiarity with Broncos special teams coordinator Tom McMahon combined with the struggles of punter Marquette King helped Colby Wadman land on the team’s practice squad Tuesday.

Broncos rush defense rising with Chiefs’ Kareem Hunt on deck
Kareem Hunt returns to Broncos Stadium on Monday night after a breakout rookie season but is still gaining traction in Year 2.

Broncos to wear all-navy uniforms vs. Kansas City
The Broncos will break out their alternate jerseys for the first time in 2018.

Film review: Chiefs Justin Houston and Dee Ford against the 49ers - Arrowhead Pride
Matt Lane locks himself in The Lab to give us some answers about the Chiefs edge rushers

Mahomes is adjusting plays and putting teammates in position to succeed - Arrowhead Pride
The performance on Sunday was little more up and down than we’ve seen from Patrick Mahomes so far this season, writes Kent Swanson

10 simple ways Denver can bounce back in time to beat the Chiefs
The Broncos can rebound in time to beat the Chiefs in Week 4, but there are some easy fixes that'll have to be made.

The Chiefs Week 3 defense: better, but still not great - Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs defense allowed their lowest point total of the season...but how bad was the performance?

A game in the life of Denver Broncos mascot, Thunder | Broncos Special Section |
We’ve see it many times before. The Denver Broncos score a touchdown and out runs the team mascot, Thunder. But what does Thunder, an Arabian horse, do during the rest

Denver Broncos: Josey Jewell's first start was a great one
Though the Denver Broncos lost in Baltimore on Sunday, Josey Jewell's first NFL start and most extensive NFL action were very good.

Los Angeles Rams place Aqib Talib on injured reserve -
The Los Angeles Rams placed cornerback Aqib Talib on injured reserve Wednesday -- a day before he's scheduled to undergo ankle surgery.

Gronkowski refutes bro: Not frustrated with offense -
A day after Chris Gronkowski said Rob Gronkowski was "frustrated" by the team's shortcomings on offense, the Patriots tight end cleared the air while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

Joey Bosa says he'll likely be out until midseason -
Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Bosa says he'll likely will be out until the team's bye week, which comes in Week 8 of the season.

From the GM’s Eye: This time around, the holes in the Patriots’ offense may just be too big for even Belichick to fix – The Athletic
Last year, Dion Lewis, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola accounted for a third of the Pats’ total offense. They’re not the same without them, and it might not be able to be fixed this time.


So at 2-1, are the Broncos for real?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Yes, contenders!
    (21 votes)
  • 52%
    No, pretenders.
    (206 votes)
  • 41%
    Too early to tell...
    (162 votes)
389 votes total Vote Now