Will the Chiefs train keep rolling over Denver?
“Sunday Night Football” features game two between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos, with the scene shifting to Kansas City. Meeting one went to Kansas City 43-16 in Denver during a snowfall. Patrick Mahomes’ numbers were not gaudy in the least mostly because the Chiefs got a touchdown from their defense and their special teams. The Broncos offense was stymied for the most part and couldn’t get much going.
Denver predictably fell on its face once again when it didn’t have a quarterback last week in a 31-3 loss to the Saints. Former Wake Forest quarterback-turned-wideout-turned-quarterback Kendall Hinton’s performance — 1-for-9 for 11 yards and two interceptions — was admirable but expected. As it turns out, it’s difficult to move the ball when all of your quarterbacks are in COVID contact tracing. The Broncos defense actually didn’t play poorly, but it was on the field way too long, and there’s only so much you can do while totaling 112 yards of offense.
The Chiefs are finally home after two straight on the road. They got off to a fast start in Tampa going up 27-10 entering the fourth quarter before holding on as the Bucs picked up two touchdowns and lost 27-24. Kansas City racked up 543 yards of offense with Mahomes throwing for 462 of those. The Chiefs’ defense was rather porous, too, allowing 417 themselves. They have some things to clean up entering this matchup.
Sunday Night Football: Denver at Kansas City
Kickoff: Sun, Dec. 6 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Spread: Chiefs -14
Three Things to Watch
The Broncos have lost three of their last four, and the playoffs are all but a small glimmer in the grand scheme of things. This team begins a stretch of three of their next four games on the road, and one has to wonder what their mindset is and if they pack it in after going down early. For the Chiefs, this is a brief respite, as they have their next two games on the road at Miami and New Orleans. It’s a divisional game, so focus shouldn’t be an issue, although coming off two straight emotional games, they could get off to a slow start.
2. Establish the run
Clyde Edwards-Helaire opened up the year with a 138-yard rushing effort against the Texans, and everyone went wild. Since then, he’s rushed for over 100 yards just once with five efforts of 50 yards or less. The acquisition of Le’Veon Bell sounded good, but he hasn’t made a huge impact either. I don’t think KC minds having Mahomes drop back 50 times in a game, but some sort of balance would be nice, especially at the end of games when they want to play keep-away. Denver needs to establish the run with Philip Lindsay and Melvin Gordon III so they can take pressure off Drew Lock and give their defense a rest. Royce Freeman actually led the backfield with 50 rushing yards last week, but that was with odd circumstances. Whoever can get their ground game going will win this game.
3. Un-Lock Drew earlier
Lock’s stats are pretty bad, but there are some interesting trends when you dig a little deeper. Lock has thrown seven touchdown passes this season, with one of those coming in the first quarter and the other six in the fourth quarter. In the other two quarters combined, he’s been shutout and has thrown three interceptions while completing 53.7 percent of his passes. Even worse for the former Missouri signal-caller, he’s thrown one touchdown pass when the team is either tied or in the lead. If Denver can bottle up what he does later and was able to see it earlier, his career and this season would be better.
This won’t be much of a contest. As I said above, we could see a slow start, but in the end, Denver just can’t keep up. Lock will throw some garbage-time touchdowns, but this will be an easy win for the Chiefs, which keep pace with the Steelers.
Prediction: Chiefs 34, Broncos 17