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Take Five: Denver

Posted Nov 14, 2010

Five to key as Kansas City heads into the Mile High City

In essence, Sunday represents Custer’s Last Stand for the Denver Broncos. At 2-6, the Broncos are all but eliminated from postseason play, but a win over the Chiefs would push Denver’s division record to .500 and help make that dimming postseason light just a tiny bit brighter. It would also push the division-leading Chiefs off the top for the first time of 2010.

With respected veterans like Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey keeping the Broncos locker room hungry, INVESCO Field will likely make for a tough place to play once again on Sunday. It’s a building that Kansas City has won in just one time since the structure came into existence in 2001.

Let’s “Take Five” for today’s game in Denver…

Pressure on Orton

If Broncos QB Kyle Orton doesn’t have to move around in the pocket, he’ll sit back and pick defenses apart. Denver boasts a cast of receivers that can match up against nearly any secondary in the league. WR Jabar Gaffney has a knack for finding the soft spots in zones and Brandon Lloyd leads the league in receiving yards.

 Keeping Orton on the run will alleviate pressure on the Kansas City secondary. It’s particularly important with both Kendrick Lewis (hamstring) and Jon McGraw (knee/head) nursing injuries. Practice squad safety Ricky Price was promoted to the 53-man roster yesterday to add reinforcement to the Chiefs ailing back line should Lewis and/or McGraw not be able to play.

Control the Line of Scrimmage

Denver has been a one-dimensional offense thus far in 2010. The running game has been non-existent for the Donkeys in outputting just 67.3 yard per contest, but Denver has also had to deal with numerous injuries at running back and along the offensive line. Many of those missing parts are finally ready to return and RB Knowshon Moreno appears ready to carry the football 20 times a game if needed.

Stopping Denver’s run from the get-go will likely lead the pass-happy Broncos to abandon the thought resurrecting their run game on Sunday. When Moreno carries the football 15 times or fewer, Denver is 2-9 under Josh McDaniels.

Eliminate Critical Errors

Cue the 80’s music, Kansas City became a chameleon last weekend in Oakland.  Going up against the league’s most penalized football team, the Chiefs nearly out-dueled the Raiders in a penalty-for-penalty fight. There’s no reason to hamper on the critical effects of the flags; they took multiple points of the scoreboard and kept Kansas City from extending a commanding lead on the rest of the division.

Short and sweet, the Chiefs must get back to being the Chiefs this weekend.

Get Out Early

Running teams are at their best when playing with a lead; especially on the road. Even with LB DJ Williams in the lineup, Denver has been among the worst run-stopping defenses in the league (31st in the league at 154.6 ypg.). With the Pro Bowler on the bench to start Sunday’s game the Broncos will be working against the grain even more.

Last Sunday, Kansas City did a nice job of getting out in front of Oakland early in the game and it took an uncharacteristically high amount of self-inflicted miscues to allow the Raiders back into the contest. Chances are, lightning won’t strike twice if the Chiefs can build an early lead.

Win On Special Teams

Jacoby Ford’s 94-yard kickoff return TD that opened the second half last weekend was a momentum-changer for the Raiders. It was also the lead example of a changing climate for the Chiefs special teams units.

What started off the season as a strength for Kansas City has become a weakness in recent weeks. The Chiefs have been missing on a number of their special teams goals and, while the kicking game has remained strong, the return units have come up short. Big yardage returns have come in chunks against the Chiefs and Kansas City’s return average has been minimal.

The Chiefs don’t necessarily need a big play on special teams this weekend. They just need consistency.

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