Broncos scouting report: Broncos vs Chiefs predictions for Week 13
Denver Broncos (4-7) at Kansas City Chiefs (10-1), Sunday, 6:20 p.m. MST, Arrowhead Stadium, CBS, 850 AM, 94.1 FM, 103.5 FM
3 Things to watch
1. Kansas City’s firepower. The Chiefs have won six straight games heading into Sunday’s primetime bout, and their offense is hitting on all cylinders behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes, wideout Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. The latter two are ranked in the top three in the league in receiving yards. With too many weapons to reasonably contain, the Broncos’ defense faces a tall task in keeping Kansas City from an 11th consecutive win over Denver.
2. Drew Lock’s play. After being sidelined for last week’s loss to New Orleans for failing to adhere to proper COVID-19 mask protocols, Lock needs to bounce back. Lock has thrown 11 interceptions over the six games since he returned from a shoulder injury, and another pick-laden performance will likely have the Broncos on the wrong end of another blowout.
3. Time of possession. The Chiefs rank first in the NFL in that category with an average of 30:17 each game, while the Broncos rank 26th at 28:16. Every minute you can keep the ball out of Mahomes’ hands is an important one, which means the Denver run game has to be more consistent (Phillip Lindsay is questionable with a knee injury) and the Broncos have to be better on third down (Denver is 30th at 36.1%, Kansas City first at 50.3%).
Who has the edge?
When the Chiefs run
Rookie Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a revelation for the Kansas City rushing attack even though he’s only gone over 100 yards once this year. The Denver run D, which misses the presence of starting nose tackle Mike Purcell (season-ending foot injury), has been going in reverse and allowed a season-high 229 rushing yards last week against New Orleans.
When the Chiefs pass
With Hill, Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson — not to mention a pair of backs who can catch — Mahomes’ arsenal has made him nearly unstoppable over the past three seasons. That won’t change Sunday, especially against a Denver secondary missing one of its top cornerbacks in Bryce Callahan (foot injury).
When the Broncos run
With Lindsay questionable, it’s likely up to Melvin Gordon (team-leading 554 rushing yards) to carry the load. Denver’s O-line must exploit Kansas City’s weakness (tied for 23rd in average rushing yards allowed at 128.2) and use the ground game to capitalize in the red zone, where the Chiefs rank last in scoring percentage at 74.1%.
When the Broncos pass
Denver’s passing attack has been mediocre for the past few weeks. Lock surely can’t do worse than practice squad-wideout-turned-starting-quarterback Kendall Hinton, who threw more interceptions against the Saints (two) than completions (one). KC’s secondary is tied for fourth with 12 picks.
Last week, Brandon McManus’ 58-yard field goal prevented Denver’s first-ever home shutout. Beyond McManus and the directional punting of Sam Martin, Denver’s special teams has been subpar. K.C.’s units have also been inconsistent, ranking in the bottom 10 in punt return average, punt return average against and kickoff return average against.
Ryan O’Halloran, beat writer: Chiefs 37, Broncos 24
Kansas City leads by 21 points entering the fourth quarter before the Broncos score two touchdowns for the backdoor cover.
Kyle Newman, beat writer: Chiefs 38, Broncos 10
Kansas City rolls to its fifth straight blowout in the one-sided rivalry, with first-half touchdowns by Hill, Kelce and Edwards-Helaire putting the game out of reach early.
Mark Kiszla, columnist: Chiefs 31, Broncos 20
How sad is the state of Dove Valley? If the Broncos can stay within two TDs of Kansas City, it will be considered a victory.
Sean Keeler, columnist: Chiefs 28, Broncos 13
New this week: A quarterback! Maybe two! Baby steps, people. Baby steps.
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