The Kansas City Chiefs look to place the sting of defeat behind them as they face the struggling Denver Broncos. After another bitter loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the team faces a long-time AFC West rival in the Broncos — the first of two games against them in just four weeks.
Head coach Andy Reid is looking forward to playing the 3-9 Broncos in Denver this Sunday and says their record is not an indicator of how good the Broncos are, despite being flexed out of the primetime slot.
“We get rid of the record on this thing as we evaluate them and look at them as a team and their defense is one of the top defenses in the NFL,” complimented Reid. “[In] the red zone, they’re [at the] top, and the third downs they’re [at the] top.”
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes says the team spends a lot of time in the offseason preparing for AFC West games, especially against the Broncos.
“We just really emphasize playing our division opponents. That’s something that we work on all off-season,” said Mahomes. “In order to get where you want to go, you have to win your division, most times…we just really emphasize trying to beat our division opponents and the Broncos have been one that’s been a great challenge for us every year.”
The “close-but-no-cigar” nature of the Broncos season summarizes the frustration of losing close games in the final seconds. Reid recognizes that Denver hasn’t put all the pieces together to win many games this season.
“They’re playing like crazy and then their offense is like one fingertip away from winning games,” acknowledged Reid. “We’ve got to make sure that we have a good week of practice and get ourselves ready for an AFC West opponent, which is always great competition.”
Mahomes says that the Denver defense is “special” and that the Chiefs will have to bring out the unexpected play calls against a team that knows them so well, as division opponents typically do.
“When you play division opponents, you obviously know they’ve studied you all offseason, so you try to have a concept of what you do best, but at the same time, (you) throw in some wrinkles so that they can’t be on top of your best plays,” explained the quarterback. “So for us, it’ll be a great challenge against a great defense to go out there and try to find a way to put up enough points to win.”
The infamous (Empower Field at) Mile High Stadium has a way of exposing players who did not prepare for its high altitude and the effects it can have on a game. Fortunately, Reid has been to Denver enough to get the team prepared for the altitude.
“We’ve been OK there with the breathing part,” explained Reid. “It’s been late in the year, (and) normally you’re in pretty good shape, the weather’s a little cooler, you go in and it doesn’t hit you quite like maybe early in the season.”
While the highly anticipated debut of Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson has been lackluster, to say the least, Reid was complimentary of Wilson and his receiving corp.
“I’ve known Russell, [and I’ve] competed against him for a long time so he’s a heck of a player,” praised Reid. “You have to make sure that you get yourself right, technique-wise, to play against those receivers and in particular (Wilson) with his timing and run ability…he can still scoot and he’s slippery in the pocket, so you’ve got to make sure you handle all of that the right way.”
The Chiefs have the opportunity to clinch the AFC West this weekend with a win over Denver and a Miami Dolphins win over AFC West foe Los Angeles Chargers. Mahomes says that it’s a “huge deal” to win the AFC West and it would be a major step toward the Chiefs’ overall goal to win the Super Bowl.
“Obviously, you want to win the Super Bowl every year, but it starts (with) our first goal when we walk in is to win the AFC West and that takes week in and week out, great preparation,” Mahomes said. “It’s a division that’s always tough (and) always has great teams in it and we know whenever we go in every week, they’re going to give us (their) best shot…so we know it’s a hard thing to do and we’re going to take pride in trying to do that and win every time we play against these opponents.”