The Kansas City Chiefs’ secondary is mean. Their pass rush is scary. Their run defense? Well, it isn’t mean and it isn’t scary. It’s mediocre, in fact.
According to FootballOutsiders, the Chiefs’ run defense is ranked 26th in the NFL. According to ESPN, their defense is 19th in the NFL with 1,062 yards allowed this season.
The knock on the Chiefs has been that they have not faced a real quarterback yet. If you follow that thread to its conclusion, Peyton Manning will be the most important player tonight. Of course anytime the Denver Broncos take the field Manning is important, but when it comes to finding flaws in the Chiefs, I am much more interested in their struggles against the run. If you agree with me, then Knowshon Moreno will be just as important as Manning.
Moreno is averaging 4.2 yards-per-attempt, right on par with the production of Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy. There are not many games where the Broncos will want to put the ball in his hands too much, especially not in favor of the likes of their receiving weapons (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker, and Julius Thomas). If the match-up dictates a change, however, then the Broncos need to adapt. In this case, Moreno will need to get a bunch of carries Sunday night against the Chiefs.
They will also have to keep Moreno involved in the passing game to try and offset the Kansas City pass rush. Our colleagues over at Predominantly Orange wrote about Moreno’s importance in that regard. The following comes from an article by Sayre Bedinger:
Scheming against Denver probably looks a lot like this. You want to man up on the Four Horsemen, and be physical at the line of scrimmage but keep your safeties in a zone coverage. That leaves five guys to rush the passer, and if the Chiefs are consistently allowed to rush five against Denver, there could be problems…
“…Enter Moreno, who is going to have to continue to make plays out of the backfield as a receiver to keep teams–starting with Kansas City–rushing just four and making sure he is accounted for.”
That’s not to mention the role Moreno will play as a pass blocker, which is one of the main reasons he is the starter in the first place.
Yes, this is the same Knowshon Moreno who has almost been cut by the team on more than one occasion. And yet when the Denver Broncos take the field Sunday night for one of the biggest regular season games in NFL history, he will be a key player for them.