The time has arrived. The bright lights of Sunday Night Football allow the Kansas City Chiefs an opportunity to make their statement on national TV. The Chiefs already took down Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl Champion Seahawks at Arrowhead. Can they finally notch a number in the win column against a Peyton Manning-led Broncos team?
Let's take a look at what to watch for in Broncos-Chiefs on Sunday Night Football.
1. The Broncos want to run the ball
This may come as a surprise to put this No. 1 when playing Denver but this has become a mission of the Broncos. They want to build their run game headed into the playoffs. Denver clearly doesn't want Manning taking anymore hits. The line is playing with a new attitude in the run game and the Chiefs need to squash it. The Broncos will want to take the crowd out of this game, and the best way to do that is to strike quickly or run the ball down the Chiefs throat.
2. Will Broncos double up Dontari Poe?
Last week in Oakland, Dontari Poe was double teamed on a majority of plays. The Raiders ran off of his double teams. The Broncos ran multiple double teams in their run game last week and controlled the line of scrimmage against the Dolphins. I would not be surprised to see the Broncos try this again.
3. Legal (illegal?) picks and screens
The Chiefs did a good job of fighting through the screens in the second half of their first game against Denver. They also learned how to communicate and switch responsibilities on pick routes. Teams have had a difficult time attacking the Chiefs with pick routes this season but the Broncos will still test it. Remember the Chiefs stopping this pick play below.
Jack Del Rio will want to do two things on defense: 1.) Shut down the Chiefs run and 2.) get pressure on Alex Smith. The Chiefs offensive line still struggles at picking up and passing off stunts and spying the delayed blitz. The left guard, Mike McGlynn, position will be the Broncos primary point of attack.
5. Misdirecting the defense
The Broncos still have issues at handling misdirection. The Chiefs were the first team to expose this weakness and others have attacked it since. The Chiefs offense has so many reads built in to each play that defenses have trouble maintaining responsibilities. The Broncos didn't have to respect the speed of De'Anthony Thomas (injured) last time around. This time will be different.
6. Explosive plays
The Chiefs had one of their most explosive offensive performances against the Broncos in Week 2 with seven explosive plays in the game. Misdirection and play-action were the ones that worked the most. The offense back then was just finding its footing and figuring out what worked and should be better now.
7. Hang onto that ball
The offense did a fantastic job of this last go around. The Chiefs had 75 plays for a 5.1 yard average and a time of possession at 36:14 while Peyton Manning was limited to eight drives on 46 plays. The Chiefs defense will need to shut down the run and disrupt the timing of routes. On offense they need long drives that turn into seven points. The run game and short passes will be very important from a possession standpoint. Kansas City must also space out the defense and put them in sub package situations to run between the tackles.
8. Pressuring Peyton
The Chiefs will need to figure out a way to get Manning off his spot. The best option looks to be a five rushers with stunts and different looks that confuse protection. Center Will Montgomery is the player to attack on the Broncos line. The Chiefs must collapse the pocket when given the chance because Manning will get the ball out quick. It will be up to the secondary to make him hold the ball longer.
Time to make that statement.