First, let me wish all the readers of KC Kingdom and the Fansided Network a very happy Thanksgiving and many more to come. The Chiefs have a lot to be thankful for this year themselves. Thankful for Andy Reid and his top notch staff. Thankful for a great 9-0 start and oh yeah, very thankful for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Kansas City was left heart broken after one of the best games last week ended with the Chargers handing the Chiefs there second loss in a row in the final seconds of the game. It left a terrible taste in not only the team, but the entire city. Then, as if it couldn’t get any worse, the Patriots opened their prime time match up against the Broncos with three turnovers on their first three drives, spotting Denver an easy 17 points in the first quarter.
By the time I flipped back to the game, it was 24-0 at half time in favor of Denver and I had that feeling of knowing that the AFC West was all but lost after the Chiefs loss earlier that day. So, just for snickers and giggles, some time had passed and I decided to check on the score of the game. I saw 24-14 and thought, okay New England! Not bad. Then next thing you know it’s 24-21.. then 28-24.. then 31-24 and folks, we got a game! The Patriots rattled off 31 unanswered points to take a touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. Lets go Pats!
Then in typical Manning fashion, Peyton orchestrated a great drive, with the help of some Patriot penalties, that ended with the tying touchdown to Demayrius Thomas with the fourth quarter winding down.
The game went into over time and I’m pretty sure most of Kansas City was glued to the television hoping the Patriots could pull it off. After several stalled drives by both offenses, the Patriots were set to punt and pin the Broncos deep in there own territory. Something had to give and then it happened. Wes Welker waived for the fair catch but, didn’t make the catch and instead called “Poison!” leaving his guys in a vulnerable spot to get hit by the ball. That’s exactly what happened, it hit his own guy, making it a live ball for the Patriots to recover.
Needless to say, I cheered as loud as if the Chiefs were the ones who had just made that play. It set up a chip shot field goal for Patriots kicker, Stephen Gostkowski, and boom! The Chiefs and Broncos stay tied with one another for first place in the AFC West and the rematch coming home to Arrowhead.
It helped to take some edge off of the Chiefs Kingdom but there was still a ton of concern coming out of the Chargers game. The biggest is the injury issues, particularly Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. It sounds like Tamba is going to be good to go, but the latest rumors according to Fox Sports and others, is that Houston will miss 2-3 weeks, which isn’t too bad considering how painful an injury that must have been. I’d never even heard of an subluxed elbow until Houston had it happen to him, ouch.
The Chiefs didn’t touch Peyton Manning when those two were healthy so how in the world are they going to do it with out them? Having Hali playing will make a difference. How much? that’s to be determined but the fact is that they must pay attention to him at all times. They know what kind of player he is and Denver has to have a plan for him.
Now, lets take a look at the numbers.
A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:
If you would’ve told me that the Chiefs were going to score 38 points last week with out the help of defense or special teams, I would’ve said you’re crazy. The Chiefs, Alex Smith in particular, were sharp on offense last week, just falling short in a shootout with San Diego.
Alex Smith had his best day as a Chief, completing 26 of his 38 pass attempts for 294 yards and 3 TD’s. He did have one bad interception, which you could argue was the difference in the game. Smith sailed a ball into double coverage that resulted in an interception and set up the Chargers with a short field and eventually a touchdown. Despite that though, the Chiefs answered the question we’ve been wondering all year, if they’re in a shootout can Smith and the offense hang? Yes they can.
Peyton Manning was held to season lows in his 14th legendary match against Tom Brady. Manning only completed 19 of his 36 pass attempts for just 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Manning also had an interception that set up the Patriots with great field position and eventually a touchdown. The Patriots were able to do what the Chiefs could not, hit Peyton.
Manning was only sacked once, but was pressured enough to force untimely throws and the one interception. Kansas City was the best team in the league at getting after the quarter back through the first 8 games, but has since slowed down tremendously. The Chiefs only have 2 sacks since the Cleveland Browns game and it’s hurting the defense tremendously. The defense has surrendered 68 points in two weeks. That’s more than they gave up in the first five games combined!
The Chiefs have to find a way to slow down Denver’s emerging rushing attack as well. Knowshon Moreno had a career day last week against the Patriots with his 37 attempts for 224 yards and one TD. Denver rarely goes under center so they run the shotgun read with Moreno. This is where Dontari Poe has to step up and make the difference. He has to dominate the center this week and do what he can to bounce Moreno outside the tackles. Moreno had his biggest runs last week running between the tackles. Poe can be the one who changes that.
MATCH-UPS TO WATCH:
I’ll pick up right where I left off, Dontari Poe vs. Denver’s offensive line. Poe has got to win this week even though he will likely be facing double teams all afternoon. ESPN The Magazine did a piece on Poe, claiming him to be the best defensive tackle in the NFL right now. I like to agree with that statement, but the Chiefs need him to continue his dominance and back that up with a monster game on a big stage.
Alex Smith will need to continue exactly where he left off last week. He orchestrated an excellent game that was good enough to win had the defense not given up their season high in points. Denver is banged up, particularly on defense and Smith needs to take advantage.
Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper vs. the Broncos receivers. Cooper has been abused the last two weeks and it’s hard to understand why? Many blame it on the Chiefs lack of pass rush but Cooper has almost disappeared since the first Broncos game two weeks ago when Demayrius Thomas schooled him. Then, Keenan Allen had a career day in one-on-one situations with Cooper and it was frustrating to watch. The Chiefs need to mix up some zone along with man to try and confuse the Denver offense and take some pressure of their rookie corner.
It’s going to take a significant effort for the Chiefs to win this game especially with their two best pass rushers banged up. The stakes are high for both teams as the winner of this game will likely go on to be the winner of the AFC West and potentially the number one seed in the AFC playoff bracket.
Arrowhead will be as loud, if not louder, as it was when Oakland came to town and Chiefs fans set the record. Manning is 4-1 all time vs. the Chiefs with that one loss happening at Arrowhead. If Tamba Hali can apply some pressure and the Chiefs can force some turnovers, Kansas City could steal this one and take back first place in the West.
At the end of the day, Denver is the 4.5 point favorite in this game so Kansas City should play like all the pressure is on the Broncos. All that I ask is this, GET LOUD ARROWHEAD!!
The game starts at 3:25 PM CDT, on CBS.