Week 16 Tale Of The Tape: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs
- QuarterbackTrevor Siemian has been a decent starting quarterback for the defending Super Bowl champions and he has exceeded what most observers expected from him when he was named the surprise starter in training camp. However, he is just an average quarterback and is a big part of the reason the Broncos find themselves on the outside of the playoff structure looking in at this point.The Chiefs need to bounce back after losing to the Tennessee Titans on the last play of the game. Even though Kansas City has had a strong season, home losses to Tampa Bay and Tennessee have cost them badly. Alex Smith is a strong leader and an accurate passer, but he has not been asked to make big plays in Andy Reid’s offense. He may need to do that here.
- OffenseThe Broncos have not gotten the kind of contribution from their running game that they expected at the start of the season. They rank 27th in rushing yards per game and Devontae Booker is their leading ground gainer with 528 yards. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are both top-flight receivers who can make big plays, but they have not gotten the support from the team’s secondary receivers.The Chiefs are largely a conservative team that wants to run the ball, throw short passes and then let the defense make big plays. That may not be an adequate formula against a team like the Broncos that feature big-play defensive performers. Tight end Travis Kelce can get open and make key catches, while explosive Tyreek Hill adds a new dimension to the Kansas City offense.
- DefenseThe Broncos did a good job of slowing down the New England offense in Week 15 and held Tom Brady & Co. to 16 points, but they did not dominate the game with sacks. Von Miller needs to get back to top form in this game and he is the best clutch pass rusher in the NFL with 13.5 sacks. SS T.J. Ward is the team’s top tackler with 87 stops.The Chiefs are content to let most offenses move the ball with relative ease between the 20s before tightening up in the red zone. That gameplan hurt them badly against the Titans, as Tennessee was able to set up for a game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Eric Berry, Marcus Peters, Dee Ford and Justin Houston are all game-changing players.
- Special TeamsThe Broncos have been an uninspiring group when it comes to special teams play. While they have had game breakers in this area in years past, they have not had a punt return longer than 22 yards this season. Brandon McManus is just an average placekicker who is 2-of-5 from 50 yards or more.The Chiefs would like their special teams to assert themselves here. Hill is an explosive returner who needs just one key block to break a long return that could decide the game. PK Cairo Santos has made 26-of-29 FG attempts.
The Chiefs would like to finish as the No. 2 seed in the AFC, but they need the Raiders to lose one game for that to happen. They also need to take care of business here, and they should if they don’t turn the ball over.