The Denver Broncos might be without tight end Julius Thomas when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in a crucial divisional battle this afternoon. Running back Knowshon Moreno will be banged up while the coaching staff tries to decide if they will ever trust Montee Ball or CJ Anderson.
If they are without Thomas, they are without their biggest match-up problem against an elite defense in a tough road venue (Arrowhead Stadium). Pass rush or not, the Broncos need to have success down the middle of the field to try and loosen things up for their receivers. That has potential to be a problem regardless, but especially if Eric Decker doesn’t start winning more match-ups on his side of the field.
That Decker’s production has declined is well-documented. Here are his stats from the last four games:
- vs Washington: four receptions, 42 yards
- at San Diego: five receptions, 52 yards
- vs Kansas City: six receptions, 71 yards
- at New England: one reception, five yards
Those are his four lowest games in terms of receptions and he does not have a touchdown since week 8 at Indianapolis. What might be most concerning is Decker’s diminishing number of targets in those games: four (4), three (3), five (5), and only a single target last week against the Patriots.
If we know one thing about Peyton Manning, we know he will find you if you are in the right spot. That might mean Decker is failing to put himself in those situations, not winning enough of his battles on the outside.
If Julius Thomas is out, the Broncos need Eric Decker to show up. With no disrespect to Jacob Tamme, another bad game from Decker might restrict this offense, which famously has so many weapons, to Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker as the impact players. Even if the Chiefs are without their elite pass rushers, that simply will not be enough to beat that defense on their home field.