Three Keys for the Denver Broncos Versus the Kansas City Chiefs


Sep 14, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning (18) prepares to take the snap from center Manny Ramirez (66) during the game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos can all but clinch their fourth straight AFC West Title with a road win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night. A win would give the Broncos a two game lead over the Chiefs but it would actually be a three game lead because the Broncos would own the tiebreaker.

The San Diego Chargers are only one game back but as of now the Broncos hold the tiebreaker over them as well, and their schedule down the stretch is brutal starting with a trip to Baltimore on Sunday to take on a good Ravens team.

If the Broncos are going to win their third straight game in Kansas City, then there are three things they must do.

Fast start: The Broncos have struggled on the road this season, going 2-3 to this point. The common theme in all of those games is the fact that the Broncos have gotten off to slow starts and have been forced to play from behind. Even in their two wins over the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, the Broncos fumbled around through the first half and let those teams stay close.

The Chiefs know they need this one to have any shot at winning the division and they will come out angry after losing to the Raiders. Throw in a Sunday night crowd that is bound to be ramped up, and it is vital for the Broncos to come out fast.

A slow start in Arrowhead may be too much for the Broncos to overcome.

Run the ball: The Broncos obviously made a commitment last week to stay with the running game, and it paid off. The offense looked more balanced and Peyton Manning had more time to throw because the Miami Dolphins had to respect the running game.

The Chiefs strength on defense is their pass rush and their weakness is in the secondary. If the Broncos can prove that they can run the ball effectively, then it will slow down that pass rush which will allow Manning to attack a beat up and inexperienced secondary.

The running game can also take the crowd out of the game which would also benefit the Broncos. They did a great job finding their running game last week but it has to have staying power. If the Broncos get pass happy versus the Chiefs, it’s going to be a long night.

Stop the run: Chiefs quarterback, Alex Smith is extremely effective at what they ask him to do which is use play action and keep the chains moving. However everything the Chiefs do on offense is based on the success of their running game led by Jamaal Charles.

The Raiders upset the Chiefs a week ago in large part because they were able to take the running game away and force Smith to throw the ball down field. Smith can do that but it is not what the Chiefs want to do.

It will be a challenge for a Broncos defense that has struggled over the past two weeks versus the run. Both the St. Louis Rams and the Dolphins were able to run the ball on the Broncos, and that made their passing games more effective.

The Broncos got some good news on Friday as it looks like linebacker, Brandon Marshall is going to play after clearing the league’s concussion protocol. The linebackers need to be active on Sunday night and make some tackles behind the line of scrimmage, and force the Chiefs into long yardage situations.

The Broncos got good news on Marshall but they could be very thin at cornerback; Kavon Webster is out and Aqib Talib is listed as questionable. If Talib can’t go, rookie Bradley Roby will have to step up and Tony Carter will have to come off the inactive list and play well.

The Chiefs will come out fast as we talked about early and the Broncos need to withstand a few haymakers early. If the Broncos can hang in there and play the Chiefs even through the first half, then they should win a close game.

Prediction: Broncos-24 Chiefs-21 (New kicker Connor Barth hits the game winner from 41 yards out as time expires.)