It’s not always pretty, but the Denver Broncos are slowly starting to put the pieces together this season. Just a couple of weeks ago, the sky was falling and the “World of Suck” was the running theme. The defense has finally started to do things, helping carry the Broncos with two consecutive wins.
Again, if you go back two weeks, it seemed like the Kansas City Chiefs were Super Bowl-bound, and the L.A. Chargers were in the AFC West mix as well. Oakland was on a rollercoaster start and the Broncos were, winless. Week Six has concluded (Chargers in progress) for those in the division with the Chiefs on a two-game losing streak, while the Broncos have won two straight. Guess what? The two faceoff in the Mile High City next Thursday for a massive game with opposing strengths.
One of the big headlines going into the 2019 season was how influential the Broncos defense would be. The offense remained a bigger question and still is, by trying to stabilize a mediocre quarterback spot. Joe Flacco was the veteran brought in, and he’s continued the mediocrity trend by throwing at least one pick each game (throwing five so far). In their two wins, Flacco threw less than 200 yards per game and two picks along with one touchdown.
Back to the defense though, because that’s what’s won those games, and will give them a legitimate chance at beating the Chiefs. A group that was supposed to be fearsome had yet to record a sack through three games, now have 12 total. Has anything changed? Not really. The Bradley Chubb-less unit was all over Marcus Mariota in their shutout over the Titans.
No, it wasn’t Von Miller who led the way, and Chubb is out for the season, so who did the damage? A couple of familiar names in Derek Wolfe and Demarcus Walker combined for four sacks. A less-likely name, Alexander Johnson, had 1.5 sacks and led the team with nine tackles. Johnson has only played in two games for the Broncos, totaling 17 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one interception.
In their two wins, Denver has forced six turnovers, five coming via interception. If they’re going to have a chance at stopping the more human-looking Chiefs, they’re going to rely heavily on putting pressure on Patrick Mahomes. A big reason why the Chiefs have lost two straight is due to the lesser mobility of Mahomes, who’s been dealing with a nagging ankle. When he’s able to keep plays alive, the Chiefs are dangerous, to say the least, but when his movement is limited, so is K.C.
A secondary that’s picked off five passes in two games will be tested with the arm of Mahomes and speed of players like Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. The Broncos offense is anything but consistent, but they should have a chance against a struggling Chiefs defense.
It’s been a while since Flacco faced the Chiefs (last in 2012) with a forgettable performance in a 9-6 win for the Ravens. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes for under 200 yards and threw one pick, oddly reminiscent of how he’s played this season. In his first appearance against K.C. (in 2009), Flacco was much better with a stat line of 26-43 for 307 yards, three scores, and one pick. He faced them one year later in the Wild Card round, throwing for 265 yards and two scores, with no picks in a 30-7 win.
Empower Field will be rocking with divisional implications on the line midway through the season. If the Broncos win, they’ll pull that much closer to the top of a muddled AFC West. If the Chiefs win, they’ll get back on track and open up a wider lead. This game could be high-scoring or a defensive slugfest. It just depends on which Broncos team chooses to show up.