Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackThe Chiefs have played sensational football but now enter the most difficult part of their schedule where they play the Broncos twice in three weeks. While the Chiefs are undefeated, the offense has struggled and quarterback Alex Smith has been a game manager. Smith rarely turns the ball over, but can he bring his team back if they fall behind by two touchdowns?The Broncos have been the "it" team in the NFL as they have lit up scoreboards and dominated their opponents regularly. They have scored 28 or more points in every game and Peyton Manning has been spectacular with 33 TDs and just six interceptions. However, Manning suffered a high ankle sprain in the Week 10 victory over the Chargers and his mobility is limited.
- OffenseThe Chiefs want to hold on to the ball as long as they can against the Broncos, and that means giving the ball to running back Jamaal Charles, who has run for 725 yards and six touchdowns. Smith will throw the ball to Donnie Avery, who has caught 27 passes for 396 yards and Charles (47-389-2). Dwayne Bowe was arrested for marijuana possession and has been a disappointment.Manning has no trouble finding the weak spot in any defense and then getting the ball to wide receivers Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Welker is a superb possession receiver who will get everything out of each reception, while Thomas and Decker are big-play makers. Running back Knowshon Moreno runs hard, while TE Julius Thomas can stretch the field.
- DefenseThe Chiefs rank 10th in yards allowed, but they may be the best defense in the league because they put constant pressure on the quarterback. Outside linebacker Justin Houston has a team-high 11.0 sacks and 33 tackles. He’s joined by fellow outside backer Tamba Hali, who has 9.0 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson leads the team with 68 tackles.The Broncos rank 23rd overall and 29th against the pass. Both of those figures are somewhat misleading because the Broncos have built big leads and opponents have had to throw on nearly every down. Linebacker Danny Trevathan has a team-high 70 tackles, 11 passes defended and three interceptions. Defensive end Shaun Philips has 7.5 sacks to lead the team.
- Special TeamsThe Chiefs have done a solid job in punt and kickoff coverage, limiting opponents to an average of 7.3 yards per punt return. Speedy Dexter McCluster has an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and is capable of turning any game in Kansas City’s favor. PK Ryan Succop has made 18-of-21 FG attempts.The Broncos do an outstanding job of covering punts and kickoffs. They also have an advantage any time Trindon Holliday gets his hands on the ball. Holliday has returned both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown. Matt Prater has made all 12 of his FG attempts this season.
The Broncos appear to have the firepower to take down the Chiefs and remove them from the ranks of the undefeated. However, Manning has taken some hard shots in recent weeks and his mobility may be impacted. If Manning has a hard time moving in the pocket and throwing, the Chiefs could survive. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor