There are a lot of problems playing Peyton Manning but it really boils down to this: Manning knows what you so well that he's going to identify your weakness before the snap. From there, it's just a matter of execution.
Manning's targets always seem to be open. Did you know that he throws more passes around the line of scrimmage than Alex Smith? If Peyton is pushing the ball down the field, there's a good chance that's because the matchup is strongly in his favor. There's usually one area of the game that Peyton figures out before anyone else does, and then it's over. That's why I wrote this article on the Broncos running attack -- it seems like an obvious place for Manning to run those two tight end sets and set the Chiefs up for failure. (Do you want to die a quick death by the pass or a slow painful death by the run?)
Earlier this week on 610 Sports Broncos CB Chris Harris didn't appear to know who Travis Kelce was (about 30 minutes in here). Now Brian Billick on NFL Network's Playbook literally brought out a sheet of paper with the Chiefs defensive backs while on the air because he didn't know their names.
"When we talk about Peyton Manning and the Broncos, what are we talking about?" Billick said, who knows something about football despite not knowing the Chiefs. "Five guys of 60 catches or more. When we talk about the Chiefs defense, I'm sorry but I have to look at the names -- Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker and Husain Abdullah. Outside of Eric Berry, with all due respect, I don't know hwo these guys are. When you play Peyton Manning, ti's all about the matchups because he's going to find the one-on-one matchup."
So it comes down to matchups. Do you feel confident about Marcus Cooper covering Demaryius Thomas? Do you think Chris Owens can hang with Emmanuel Sanders when he lines up in the slot? Eric Berry on Julius Thomas? There are going to be one on one matchups, particularly down the field when Manning will make the deep safety pick a side and then simply go to the other side. If this all sounds so simple, it is ... at least on tape.
"You sit in zone and Peyton is going to cut you up like a Christmas day turkey," said Billick, who reminded me we're going to have ham for Christmas this year. "I don't know where the one on one matchups are. You only have so many guys, you can't go two on one with everybody and I don't know where you matchup."
We've gotten this far and we haven't even mentioned the bunch formations or rub plays that always, always, always seem to kill the Chiefs. The KC Star's Terez Paylor did a great job breaking down the problems Peyton presents from the Chiefs perspective. What I'm learning, basically, is that there is no one way to stop Manning. He's going to find the one on ones and exploit you. After a 1-11 record against Peyton -- he had 472 yards and 5 TDs in the one loss, by the way -- the Chiefs are doing a lot of hoping and praying that Peyton screws up because history says the Chiefs defense won't be able to stop him.
The Chiefs defense will need to disguise what they're doing. They'll also have to play much, much better than they did last week against Tennessee.