Kansas City Chiefs (3-5)
Denver Broncos (7-1)
Does a team learn more from a loss that it does from winning? If so, the Denver Broncos had their first significant lesson of the 2015 season last week in a pretty terrible and gut wrenching loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The defense looked vulnerable. The running game disappeared (again). Peyton Manning threw a costly interception. Penalties at inopportune times throughout the game made it all but impossible to for the Broncos to win.
This week, they face a team in Kansas City that they’ve beaten once this year already. It’s a team that Denver should beat, especially with game in the Mile High City, but the Chiefs are desperate and need to win in the worst way. Kansas City is dangerous and Denver cannot afford to look past them.
This is a division game and strange things happen in these sorts of contests.
KEY MATCH UP
The Denver running game in the form of Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson must get it going. Consistently. Starting that process against the Chiefs would be a very big deal. The running game has shown flashes (most significantly against the Packers) of dominance and that kind of performance Sunday would go a long way towards ensuring the victory for Denver. Good defense and good running games travel well and show well in poor weather. The Broncos need this ground game to get untracked. Permanently.
Injuries. Both teams are dealing with them, but the Broncos this week have a number of key players who are not 100%. DeMarcus Ware is out. Emmanuel Sanders is questionable. Peyton Manning himself is beaten up. Though the Chiefs aren’t known as a particularly physical team, the Broncos can ill afford to absorb too many body blows from them. They’d better be dishing out the punishment, not trying to see if they can take it.
Denver is coming off its first loss of the season and would like to throw it firmly behind them. The defense, though still ranked number one in all the important categories, looked vulnerable last week. Peyton Manning made a crucial error. The team lost it’s composure. Beating the Chiefs would force all that to the back burner. Beating them soundly would put Denver back into elite status.
A win is a win is a win, though, and Denver will get one against Kansas City.