Back on December 6th, the Denver Broncos whooped the Chiefs by a score of 44 to 13. It was a depressing day for a number of reasons. It was a blowout loss to a division rival; the Chiefs retired Derrick Thomas' number and the Chiefs' D did squat to honor that; and Matt Cassel was replaced in game for the first time this season (without being injured).
In Week 17, the Broncos are teetering on the edge of the playoffs, essentially needing a win in Denver against the Chiefs to make it in.
How can the Chiefs help derail the Broncos' playoff chances? Well, they're going to have to fix a number of things that went wrong in the first meeting between these two teams.
After the jump, we're taking a look at the Chiefs/Broncos first meeting of the season and seeing what the Chiefs need to fix to come out of Denver with a win.
Matt Cassel can't play like he did
Let's face it: One of the many reasons the Chiefs lost so terribly against the Broncos was Matt Cassel's poor play. Cassel was 10/29 for 84 and two picks. It was his worst day as an NFL quarterback.
The bottom line is, unless you put up 351 yards rushing, you need your quarterback to make more than 10 completions and pass for more than 100 yards. I think Cassell will accomplish that this weekend.
Offensive line needs to take it up a notch
Even though the o-line did a decent job of opening up running lanes in the first half (63 yards rushing before the game went entirely passing for the Chiefs), they gave up two sacks and seven tackles for losses for the game.
Yes, Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil is a stud and the Chiefs did a good job of keeping him in check. But it's going to take a complete effort by the offensive line to beat the Broncos - protecting Matt Cassel, not letting the Broncos' D behind the line of scrimmage and creating running lanes for Jamaal Charles.
Turnovers: Capitalize and minimize
Yep, it's a cliche: Win the turnover battle. But here's how this is different leading up to this game.
The Chiefs and Broncos both had three turnovers the last time they played. Kyle Orton threw a pick on the Broncos first drive and the Chiefs went three and out on the next drive. The Broncos took the subsequent Colquitt punt and used the next eight plays to score a TD. It's almost as if Mike Brown's interception didn't happen.
At the half, this was a close game at 14 to 6. Halfway through the third quarter, Matt Cassel had thrown two picks which directly led to 10 Bronco points. The game was 24 to 6 at that point and essentially over for the Chiefs' impotent offense.
Do I even need to mention that a couple of minutes later the Chiefs fumbled and the Broncos recovered in the end zone? The Broncos capitalized on the Chiefs' three turnovers. The Chiefs only managed to capitalize on one Bronco turnover - the Tamba Hali strip near the goal line. That was a gimme.
The run defense, again
The Chiefs gave up 245 yards rushing to the likes of Correll Buckhalter, Peyton Hillis and Knowshon Moreno. The Chiefs did better last week against the Bengals defending the run. If the Chiefs can keep the Broncos to under 150 yards rushing, that increases our chances of a win exponentially.
The Chiefs' second drive against the Broncos was perhaps the best drive of the season - had the Chiefs scored a TD.
With the Broncos leading 3-0, the Chiefs got the ball on their own 2-yard line. 20 plays and nearly 8 minutes later, the Chiefs were looking at first and goal from the Broncos' 1-yard line.
What happened? Jamaal Charles lost three yards rushing on first down; Cassel's pass to Lance Long was incomplete on second down; and another Cassel pass was incomplete to Jamaal Charles on third down.
The Chiefs took three points after not being able to get 1 yard on three plays. The game would have been tied at seven if the Chiefs had scored a TD.
Personally, I think a touchdown there changes the game entirely. How confident could the Chiefs be if they couldn't score a TD on first and goal from the 1-yard line?
Will the Chiefs be able to fix all of these problems? I think Cassel will play better and the Chiefs won't give up as many rushing yards to the Broncos as they did in the first meeting.
Aside from that, I can't say with confidence I think the Chiefs will finish drives, capitalize on turnovers or turn in a good performance from the o-line.
What do you guys think? Can the Chiefs fix these problems and come out of Denver with a win?