Editor’s note: As we head into today’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos, we welcome Joe Rowles of Mile High Report — our sister SB Nation site covering the Denver Broncos — for Five Questions with the Enemy.
1) What’s changed about the Broncos' defense since Von Miller left?
Bradley Chubb’s playing back into form after his return from the bone spur issue that cost him most of the season. Shelby Harris is questionable with his ankle injury, but outside of that, all the starters along the defensive front look like they’ll play.
Justin Strnad and undrafted rookie Curtis Robinson were the starting off-ball backers in Von’s last game against the Cleveland Browns. Strnad’s now firmly entrenched as a backup while Robinson’s now a member of the San Francisco 49ers. We’ll see two of Baron Browning, Kenny Young, and Jonas Griffith start against the Chiefs.
The secondary will be down at least three of their five starters against the Chiefs. as the team’s already announced Patrick Surtain II and Ronald Darby won’t play — and Kareem Jackson landed on Injured Reserve. Fangio will ask his former Bears Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan to man the corner spots while rookie Caden Sterns will receive the second start of his career at safety. The nickel spot could also be in flux if Nate Hairston can’t suit up.
2) Who or what are the reasons for hope in Denver?
If we’re looking at this game, hope is in extremely short supply. The Broncos will have backup guards, corners, and linebackers. They’ll also be down a starting safety and quarterback. Truthfully — outside of last year’s Kendall Hinton game — it’s hard to remember the last time there was so little enthusiasm for a Broncos game.
3) Who will be the Broncos starting quarterback in September?
It’s anyone’s guess at this point. Last year the Broncos under George Paton were linked to veterans like Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Sam Darnold and Andy Dalton. I have it on good authority they wanted to draft Trey Lance if he made it past the San Francisco 49ers. There have also been reports linking them to Deshaun Watson through the ongoing sexual misconduct investigation.
I know the dream in Broncos Country is Rodgers or Russell Wilson. We’ll see if it comes true.
4) Potentially, the other three AFC West teams could all make the playoffs. If you had to choose one to go on and make the Super Bowl, which one would it be?
The Kansas City Chiefs look like one of the two or three best teams in the NFL — while both the Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have fundamental flaws that will get exposed against contenders.
5) How does this one play out? Score prediction?
The coward in me wants to predict the Broncos miraculously find a way to notch the feel-good victory of the year after losing every one of these games since Peyton Manning’s last season. There’s just no way I can convince myself it’s at all likely.
With so few horses left in the stable on defense, it looks like the Broncos will have to win in a shootout — barring some Fangio magic. Drew Lock’s box score stats over the last two weeks are much improved over his 81 snaps as Teddy Bridgewater’s backup this year, but he’s still shown signs that the turnover-prone gunslinger’s in there. Steve Spagnuolo is a master of panic with his ability to rain hell on opposing passers. I expect that to lead to some ugly moments — unless Pat Shurmur can find a way to dominate with the running game.
Barring a meltdown game from Kansas City, this one looks like it will get ugly. Give me Chiefs 47, Broncos 10
Be sure to check out the answers I gave to their questions by clicking here.