Let's get back to talking about this week's game. Here are my thoughts:
I see a lot of you predicting a blowout and I really don't think you guys are taking seriously just how good the Chiefs defense is. Some of you have focused on yardage allowed, so let's start there. Yards don't determine who wins and who loses. Points do. True, the Chiefs have given up a lot of yards and big plays, but they have done the best job in the NFL of keeping opponents out of the end zone. There are two big reasons for this. They lead the NFL in forced turnovers and turnover margin and they lead the NFL in sacks. They will need to generate both turnovers and sacks if they have any chance of beating Denver on Sunday.
Peyton's banged up ankles will be a liability, but he was never that "mobile" to begin with and he gets rid of the ball so fast, that it will be hard to get to him anyway. The loss of Clady is going to make it difficult for the Denver o-line to protect Manning from Poe, Houston and Hali and, while they might not get many sacks, I expect them to hurry and knock down Manning quite a bit and that will take it's toll as the game wears on.
I expect the Chiefs to do their best to keep Denver's offense off the field by running the ball a lot and using short screen passes for 4 or 5 yards per down. This will only work if
they can convert 3rd downs and the Chiefs have struggled with that lately. I've seen some good things from the Chiefs offense, but Bowe, McCluster and Charles have been dropping too many wide open passes. They will really have to focus this week.
I love to crunch numbers. Stats are a good indicator of what will happen, but they are certainly no guarantee of results. Look at how many upsets there were in the NFL in the past two weeks. That's why they play the game.
Now, the Chiefs are giving up an NFL best 12.3 points per game. To put that in to perspective we need to look at the offenses they have played against. Chiefs opponents have averaged 24.5 PPG this season, so the Chiefs are holding their opponents to 50.2% of their season averages.
By contrast, the Broncos are allowing an average of 26.4 PPG against teams that have a cumulative average of 21.8 ppg, so the Broncos are allowing teams to score 121.3% of their averages overall.
The Broncos are averaging 41.2 ppg and the Chiefs are averaging 23.9 ppg. It looks like an easy win for the Broncos, doesn't it? But let's factor in the defenses.
Chiefs 23.9 ppg X 1.213 = 29 points
Broncos 41.2 ppg X 50.2 = 20.7 points
Now, let's factor in home field advantage (3 points) and add 1.5 points for Denver and subtract 1.5 for KC.
That would be my mathematically predicted score, but it doesn't take other factors into account. Let's analyze those numbers for a second. The Chiefs are averaging about 24 ppg so an extra fg doesn't seem to be out of the realm of the reasonably possible against a team that allowed the Jaguars to score 17 points in one quarter
. 22 for the Broncos seems too low but the Chargers held them to 28 and the Chiefs have a much better defense than San Diego does, so I don't think that is too big a stretch.
Other factors to consider: The Chiefs, like most teams this time of the year, have been really banged up, including significant injuries to star players, Dwayne Bowe, Jamaal Charles and Brandon Flowers, among others. The bye week will allow these guys to heel and hopefully play better than they have the last couple of weeks. Andy Reid led teams are 13-1 in games following a bye.
Much has been made of the Chiefs weak schedule but the Broncos have only played one team with a winning record this year, the Colts, to whom they lost. The Chiefs and Broncos have played 5 common opponents and the Chiefs have won by more points
in 3 of those match-ups (Jaguars, Giants and Raiders).
This game will be lower scoring and much closer than many people think. It will probably come down to one turnover or one big mistake determining the outcome. I hope the Broncos players are underestimating the Chiefs as much as some of their fans are. My final prediction: