Broncos vs. Chiefs: How They Match Up

MHH Analyst Erick Trickel takes a look at the upcoming divisional game between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. He will break down how they match up position-by-position. Which team has the advantage?

The Denver Broncos have a strong team all around, with plenty of talent. It's a similar story with the Kansas City Chiefs. Some positions for the Broncos are better than the Chiefs, and also, some better for the Chiefs than the Broncos. Let's take a look at how they match up position-by-position.


On one side there is Peyton Manning. The other features Alex Smith. Manning is an all-time great, but he had a really poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday. Early on, he had a couple of overthrows, but that seemed to be all he could muster. After his shots downfield, his arm looked completely shot, unable to make the basic throws that he has made for years.

On top of that, he seemed rattled by getting hit and was unable to properly read the defense. Meanwhile, Smith had a solid game against a not so good Houston Texans defense. He was able to do something with his offense than Manning wasn’t able to do—that is score a touchdown for his team. While he doesn’t have a strong arm, by any means, Smith is consistent with the throws he does make.

Edge goes to: Push. If only going by past pedigree, it would easily be in Manning’s favor. That isn’t the case though. Based off of last Sunday alone, it would be in Smith’s favor. The issue is, it is possible to see Manning rebound and Smith fall apart.

Running Back

Even though the Broncos have a really good duo at running back with C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, the Chiefs have one of the best duos in the NFL. It helps the that the Chiefs have Jamaal Charles, one of the elite running backs in the league. Behind Charles is Knile Davis, who is an underrated player, and one of the best backup running backs in the NFL. Last Sunday, both duos had some issues running the ball.

That is especially true for the Broncos. Anderson was unable to pick up yards consistently, and it was only later in the game when Hillman stepped in that the offense was able to pick up rushing yards consistently. With the Chiefs, Charles picked up just under 60 yards, but he and Davis both made an impact as a receiver out of the backfield.

Edge goes to: Chiefs. While the Broncos have two good running backs, the Chiefs have one of the best in the NFL. Even though it is in the Chiefs favor, it is closer than some may think.


With the Broncos, a fullback is used often in Gary Kubiak’s scheme. However, they have yet to really utilize his scheme and used a lot of Manning’s offense, which doesn't feature the fullback. That led to only six snaps for James Casey. On the other side of the field, the Chiefs use a fullback on a somewhat regular basis, and have a talented one in Anthony Sherman.

Edge goes to: Chiefs. Sherman is a talented player, and so is Casey. The difference is, the Chiefs use their fullback and there is a big question of whether Denver uses Casey, and if so, then how much they use him.

Wide Receiver

There is a huge gap between the two teams at wide receiver. Denver has Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Norwood, Andre Caldwell, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler, while the Chiefs have Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, De'Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley and Frankie Hammond. Each of the Denver receivers are flat out better than their counterpart, with only a couple of exceptions..

Edge goes to: Denver. This was the easiest edge to hand out. The Denver receiver corps is just flat out better than the Chiefs.

Tight End

The Chiefs have a superstar in the making at tight end, with Travis Kelce. Behind him is rookie James O'Shaugnessy, who showed a lot of struggles in the preseason. In the game on Sunday, he looked solid, while Kelce was a star. With Denver, they really have two known commodities in Owen Daniels and Virgil Green.

Daniels is the receiving tight end, and didn’t look so hot against the Ravens. Green is the blocker, and that is what he is known for. However, he has struggled from the start of preseason until last Sunday with his blocking.

Edge goes to: Chiefs. It really came down to Kelce being a budding star, while Daniels and Green haven’t looked so hot so far.

Offensive line

Between the two offensive lines there are a lot of similarities. Both of them have rookies starting at a key position, and have a lot of new starters on their offensive line. Denver has one returning starter (Louis Vasquez) from a year ago, while the Chiefs have two (Donald Stephenson and Eric Fisher), though they have switched positions. Fisher was at left tackle and is now at right tackle, while Stephenson was the right tackle and now at left.

The rookie for Denver is at left tackle with Ty Sambrailo, and the Chiefs comes in at center with Mitch Morse. Both teams have a new veteran at left guard, Evan Mathis for Denver and Ben Grubbs for Kansas City. The similarities continue with both teams having a player in their second year, who didn’t play their first as starters—Matt Paradis at center for the Broncos and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff for the Chiefs at right guard. The offensive line for Denver is finished off with Ryan Harris. If you add in Jah Reid, who started week one for Fisher, they are identical.

Edge goes to: Chiefs. Even though they are nearly identical, the Chiefs seem to be gelling as a unit faster than Denver, and looked better Week 1.

Defensive Line

This was an easy position to evaluate the edge. Denver’s defensive line, with Sylvester Williams, Malik Jackson, Vance Walker (former Chief), Antonio Smith and Darius Kilgo, has a lot of talent. The Chiefs defensive line is quietly stacked with Dontari Poe, Mike Devito, Jaye Howard, Allen Bailey, Nick Williams and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

Edge goes to: Chiefs. It is somewhat close, but would be a lot closer if the Broncos had Derek Wolfe. The big difference is the quality of depth between the two teams.

Outside Linebackers

Both teams have a great starting duo for their rush linebacker positions. You have two of the best defensive players in the NFL with Justin Houston for the Chiefs and Von Miller for the Broncos. They also have two great players to compliment them in Tamba Hali (Chiefs) and  DeMarcus Ware (Broncos). The difference comes with their backups.

Both teams have a first round pick, Shane Ray for Denver and Dee Ford for Kansas City, backing up their top end pass rushers. The final backup for Denver is Shaquil Barrett, a former undrafted free agent who has turned into a good backup and is seeing even time with Ray. The Chiefs backup, Frank Zombo saw no action on Sunday.

Edge goes to: Denver. What made this go from push to Denver’s favor is simply Barrett against Zimbo.

Inside Linebacker

Derrick Johnson for the Chiefs is one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL. He does everything great and rarely is off for a game—a force to reckon with in the middle of their defense. Next to him is Josh Mauga, who is solid, but nothing special. On the other side of the field sits Brandon Marshall, who is becoming one of the best in the NFL and Danny Trevathan, who was a force against the Ravens. The Chiefs have one of the greatest ILBs and just a solid player, while the Broncos have a guy becoming one of the greatest and a great player manning their inside linebacker corps.

Edge goes to: Broncos. Johnson is a great player—there is no denying that. What puts it in Denver’s favor is they have two great players at inside linebacker.


Another easy position to determine. On Denver’s side there is Chris Harris, Jr., one of the best in the game, along with Aqib Talib, Bradley Robyand Kayvon Webster. The Chiefs have solid corners, and a lot of potential with their corners with Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Marcus Cooper and Jamell Fleming. They just are not on the Broncos level, especially with a suspended Sean Smith.

Edge goes to: Denver. As I said, it was pretty easy to come to this conclusion.


This was the hardest position to gauge, simply because of Eric Berry. The Chiefs safety just returned after spending months battling hodgkins lymphoma. He played against the Texans, and played great, and that was with a long time off from football. Denver also has a player returning in T.J. Ward, but he is returning from a single-game suspension. Next to these to is Husain Abdullah and Darian Stewart—both very good starters. Both teams also rotate safeties often, and you see a lot of three safeties on the field. When that happens, David Bruton for Denver and Ron Parker for the Chiefs come onto the field.

Edge goes to: Push. Both safety corps are really good and have a lot of talent with their starters and third safety.

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Erick Trickel in an Analyst for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @Alaskan_Bronco. And be sure to like MileHighHuddle on Facebook

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