Previewing the Denver Broncos AFC West battle for first against the Kansas City Chiefs

Dec 6, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (15) against the Denver Broncos during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Following a dominant victory against the Los Angeles Chargers, the Denver Broncos are gaining momentum. Denver’s attention now turns to their Sunday night matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle for first place in the AFC West.

After getting off to a slow 3-4 start, the Chiefs (7-4 overall) have gone on to win four in a row and currently lead the division.

Denver, who hopes to end its six-year losing streak against the Chiefs, goes into Sunday’s game as 9.5 point underdogs.

Here’s what the Broncos (6-5) can expect to face from the Chiefs in Week 13.

Chiefs on Offense

The Chiefs are currently the second-best overall offense in the NFL and they will be facing the Broncos ninth overall defense.

While Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 25 touchdowns, he has also thrown for 11 interceptions through just 11 games. His highest total was the 12 he threw in the entire 2018 seaon, when Mahomes also threw for 50 touchdowns that year.

While the Chiefs offense as a whole has had a down year, Tyreek Hill has still impressed. He sits in the top five for most receptions (84), yards (855), and touchdowns (8) currently and will be a difficult matchup for the orange and blue to corral.

The good news for Denver fans is that Hill has struggled with his yards after the catch, only averaging 4.7 YAC. The Broncos have only allowed a total of 1,173 YPC, which ranks as the seventh-lowest mark this season.

Another weapon Kansas City is sure to employ is Travis Kelce, arguably the best tight end in the league. The Broncos have only allowed one score to a tight end, but the only elite player they’ve gone up against was Mark Andrews in Week 4.

And while they are potent through the air, Kansas City has only scored eight rushing touchdowns this season. However, with so many weapons on their offense, the Broncos could struggle to stop Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who has caught three touchdowns despite only being active for six games. Last week the Broncos kept Austin Ekeler from running one in but did allow him to catch one.

Chiefs on Defense

The Chargers defense sits at No. 23 in the league, while the Broncos offense places similarly at No. 20. Up front, Kansas City has not had any major standouts this season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones leads the team in sacks with only 6.5.

For Denver, offensive linemen Garett Bolles and Bobby Massie are on track to return this week and this will give the Broncos offensive line a much-needed boost of protection. Considering how long it takes Teddy Bridgewater to throw, having that clean pocket for as long as possible is a must.

On the ground, last week’s win against the Chargers proved how dominant Denver could be. Vic Fangio has said that Melvin Gordon is 50-50 to play and was ruled doubtful on Friday. If he is out, expect a lot of Javonte Williams. Unfortunately, he may struggle to find the end zone as the Chiefs haven’t allowed any non-quarterback to run one in since Week 4.

Back to the Broncos QB; Bridgewater has not been stellar in the red zone, only scoring touchdowns 54.05 percent of the time. However, the Chiefs have struggled to stop teams in the red zone, allowing a touchdown 64.71 percent of the time. That seems to favor Denver scoring more this week than normal.

In the slot, Jerry Jeudy will be up against L’Jarius Sneed. Since his return from his Week 1 injury, Jeudy hasn’t done much, but this could be the week that changes that. Sneed does have two interceptions on the year but otherwise is in 80th-percentile marks in every defensive category.

Score Prediction: Broncos 27 – Chiefs 21

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