On Sunday, the Broncos will travel to Kansas City to face the Chiefs and their high-octane offense. It’ll be the Broncos’ second matchup with the squad from K.C. but this one will come in the incredibly hostile Arrowhead stadium.
As the saying goes, “Numbers never lie,” so let’s look at some numbers that could be the difference for Denver against Kansas City.
72.5 – Case Keenum’s passer rating this season on third and fourth down is 72.5. An abysmal figure that places him 27th among qualified quarterbacks and even behind Jaguars’ quarterback Blake Bortles. Keenum’s conversion rate is even worse.
When passing on third or fourth down, Keenum converts either a first down or touchdown on just 30.38 percent of attempts, ranking 29th in the league among qualified quarterbacks.
Meanwhile, the Broncos’ opponent, Patrick Mahomes, leads the league in third and fourth down passer rating (114.8) and is the only quarterback with a conversion rate above 50 percent. If the Broncos want to steal one in Arrowhead, they’ll have to reverse those numbers.
28.4 percent – Part of the reason Keenum’s numbers are disappointing is due to the offensive line, which is allowing pressure on 28.4 percent of his dropbacks.
The unit that came firing out of the gates as one of the most improved units in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics has regressed to the mean in recent weeks. After week two, the Broncos’ offensive line ranked in the top ten in both pressure percentage allowed and pass blocking efficiency. The group now finds itself 17th in pressure percentage allowed and 16th in pass blocking efficiency.
The loss of Ronald Leary for the year will only add to the offensive line problems, as he graded as the third best pass-blocker among Broncos’ starters. Denver has to keep Keenum clean in the pocket, especially against the Chiefs pass rush that ranks third in the league in pressures.
26 – For the Broncos to have a chance of upsetting the Chiefs, they have to make Mahomes uncomfortable. Which is something the Broncos’ pass rush is excellent at doing. Denver’s 26 sacks on the season ranks second in the league, behind only the Ravens (29).
After a relatively slow start, Denver’s pass rush has exploded over the past two weeks, collecting 46 percent of their sacks in that span. This explosion is in large part due to the emergence of rookie Bradley Chubb.
After going two weeks without a sack, Chubb tallied five sacks in just five days. Surprisingly enough, Chubb grades even higher than his partner in crime, Von Miller, in terms of matchup win percentage. Chubb is beating his man on almost 17 percent of pass-rushing attempts. That may seem like a low number, but it makes him the most efficient pass rusher on the Broncos and is good for 20th in the league.
5.19 – The Broncos’ run defense has been one of the more glaring holes on the team. They are the only team to allow back to back to 200-yard rushers since the 1978 Buffalo Bills. However, unlike other poor rush defenses, their problem isn’t too many missed tackles, but rather their depth of tackle. Denver’s average depth of tackle is 5.19 yards, the second-worst figure in the league. This means they aren’t even getting to the opposing running back until he’s already picked up five yards on average.
Luckily for Denver, Kansas City’s run game isn’t very efficient, especially against a loaded box. When running into a box with eight or more defenders, the Chiefs’ run game is fourth-worst in the league, averaging just 2.19 yards per attempt.
However, that doesn’t mean stopping Kansas City’s run game will be a walk in the park. Although they aren’t very efficient, they are incredibly shifty. The Chiefs’ run game is forcing a missed tackle about once every three carries, the best rate in the league. If Denver wants to limit Kansas City’s explosive offense they’ll have to account both for the run and the pass.
Denver (3-4) faces Kansas City (6-1) at Arrowhead Stadium, with kickoff set for 11 a.m. MT Sunday.