Chiefs Host BroncosDecember 5th, 2009 by Lee Eldridge
People often talk about pivotal games, and that some games mean more than others to the future of a team. While I think this is often overstated, I do think this game against Denver is the Chiefs most important game this season. Why? A win here could propel the Chiefs forward and build confidence, leading to a couple more wins and a possible 6-10 season. This would be quite an accomplishment considering the Chiefs started 1-7.
Whether the Chiefs beat the Broncos or not, I think they can still win a couple more games this year. But somehow beating the Broncos and finishing 6-10 feels a lot better than losing to the Broncos and finishing 4-12 or 5-11.
Will it matter for 2010? Probably not much. I’ve seen little evidence that a strong finish has much carryover to the next year. But it would allow players to see some positive results, and allow them to more fully buy in to Haley’s program.
The Broncos may be 7-4, and the Chiefs may be 3-8, but I think there’s less separation between these two teams than the records indicate. The Broncos won a couple games early on fluke plays and could easily be 5-6 right now. The Chiefs let winnable games against the Raiders and Cowboys slip through their fingers, and could just as easily be 5-6 right now.
I like the stability that Kyle Orton has brought to Denver. While not flashy, Orton has certainly done a better job of replacing Jay Cutler than most people would have predicted. The Broncos offense is ranked #18 in passing, and #16 in rushing. But Denver has struggled to score points. They average 17.8 points per game, which is #25 in the league, only slightly better than the Chiefs, who average 16.6 ppg and are #27 in the league.
The improvement in Denver’s defense this year has been impressive. Like the Chiefs, the Broncos moved to the 3-4 as their base defense. Mike Nolan was brought in as defensive coordinator, and the turnaround has been dramatic. Last year the Denver defense was ranked #29 in yards allowed. This year they’re ranked #5. Last year they were ranked #30 in scoring defense, and this year they’re ranked #5. Elvis Dumervil made the move to outside linebacker, and leads the league with 14 sacks.
The Chiefs’ offense is getting better. The addition of Chris Chambers and the expanded role for Jamaal Charles has helped significantly. The Chiefs finally have a couple of playmakers on offense. Defensively the Chiefs give up a lot of yards, specifically they give up a lot of big plays in the passing game. But unlike the Chargers last week, Denver will find it more difficult to take advantage of this weakness.
It may just be wishful thinking, but I think the Chiefs will win this game.
Prediction: Chiefs 20, Broncos 17
San Diego Chargers
And just a quick comment about the San Diego game last weekend. I know that the final score was lopsided, but I was actually encourage by the Chiefs in this one. They stood toe-to-toe with the Chargers early in that game. Take away a couple of early turnovers and the first half was pretty evenly played. You can’t win on the road turning the ball over. And the Chiefs are not good enough to overcome mistakes.