For a Christmas gift this year, the Chiefs clinched the AFC West and their playoff berth. On New Years Eve, Kansas City now looks to end 2017 on a strong note against the Broncos. Head coach Andy Reid has decided to rest his starters for this game, which means that rookie quarterback Patrick Mahomes and several other backups will be facing Denver’s first string. This doesn’t mean that the Chiefs are necessarily going to lose, however. Like every other team the Broncos have areas of their roster and scheme that the Chiefs can exploit. These pressure points will be key if Kansas City’s second string wants to win.
Denver quarterbacks Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Paxton Lynch have combined for just over 3,100 passing yards, 12th in the NFL for 2017. However, this respectable volume is offset by the 17/20 touchdown to interception ratio this year. A 58.1% completion percentage also tells us that the Broncos quarterbacks aren’t executing their scheme correctly. Kansas City’s pass rush has come into its own in the last several weeks. There’s no reason to doubt that even the Chiefs’ backups will be able to generate enough pressure to force some mistakes.
The Broncos’ rushing game is similar to their passing attack–they’re 13th in the league in terms of rushing yards gained, but have only scored on the ground 8 times. Meanwhile, Denver has lost 3 fumbles on the season. It’s apparent that the Broncos running backs aren’t superstars, but the offensive line isn’t pulling its weight either. If the Chiefs get aggressive early on without sacrificing their assignments, it might be a bloodbath.
The Broncos’ rushing and passing defense are 3rd and 4th in the league, respectively, when it comes to yards allowed. However, they have also allowed 29 touchdowns through the air so far, which puts them at 2nd-worst in the NFL. They’ve only given up 7 rushing touchdowns so far, but that may be a function of teams knowing that the pass is a viable red zone weapon. Regardless of whether the numbers are skewed or not, they tell us that the Broncos give up more points than their yards allowed stats would suggest.