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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Chiefs must change game plan to beat Denver

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  • The hype around Sunday night’s Chiefs game in Denver could not be higher. It will stay that way in two weeks when they face each other at Arrowhead. Both games have been flexed into different time slots, which proves the expectations for TV ratings. A 9-0 team versus an 8-1 team obviously deserves the attention it’s getting, especially after last year’s two-win season for the Chiefs. The Chiefs’ turnaround is quite a tale, but this one won’t have the happiest ending. Kansas City fans are using the “we get no respect” card, but there is a reason for the lack of respect. The Chiefs have faced four backup quarterbacks in the last five games, and all of them passed for more yards that Alex Smith in each game. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell and Jeff Tuel averaged 260 yards against the highly rated Kansas City defense. What will a quarterback averaging 361 yards per game do? Of course, Peyton Manning could have an issue with the Chiefs’ pass rush. Justin Houston and Tamba Hali have combined for 20 sacks. Dontari Poe and Derrick Johnson have their fair share of quarterback takedowns. They have combined for eight this season. But it isn’t easy getting to Manning in time. He is able to get the ball out quick when he expects pressure. The most Manning has been sacked is four times in a loss at Indianapolis. He hasn’t been sacked more than twice in a game since going down three times in a season opening win against the Ravens. The issue for Kansas City may not be the defensive line’s ability to get to Manning, but getting to him before he finds an open receiver. The Chiefs’ secondary will be more important than the line play. If the defensive backs can cover the Denver receivers tight and physical, then the defensive line will have more time to take Manning down. But no team has been able to do this consistently. The other argument for the Chiefs is the lack of defense for the Broncos, but it isn’t as bad as it is perceived. The Broncos have allowed fewer than 24 points in six of their nine games, which is good enough with the offense they have. The Kansas City offense actually has fewer yards than its defense has allowed. Earlier I mentioned that Smith hasn’t out performed a number of backup quarterbacks. But the Chiefs are a running team with Jamaal Charles right? Not exactly. Smith has attempted 60 more passes than the Chiefs have rushing attempts. Charles has 170 carries for 725 yards. That averages to about 19 carries for 80.5 yards per game. That just isn’t enough of a workload for a playmaker like Charles. Smith isn’t going to out play Manning, so why not let Charles keep Manning on the sideline? The Chiefs will have to put together a much different game plan for Sunday night to have a chance in Denver. The eyes of millions of Americans will be on the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos on Sunday. Will the Chiefs gain or lose respect? There will be no better way to prove how good you are than taking down Manning and the Broncos in Denver, but the Chiefs will have to prove themselves again when the Broncos visit Arrowhead.

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