These two teams' Week 2 matchup was no different. It took a fourth quarter comeback by Manning and company and a ball-hawking defense, to ultimately emerge on top.
The Chiefs are coming off of their bye and enter Week 10 on a two-game winning streak. Technically, they're still alive in the AFC playoff picture, but they can't afford to drop another game this early in the season.
The Chiefs will come out with guns hot. Let's get to the three keys to a Broncos victory.
Please, Peyton, Just Stop The Turnovers
I'm not going to analyze each and every interception Manning has thrown this year. One can argue the merits — bad throw, receiver didn't fight through the defender, tipped balls — but the truth is, it all starts with his decision making process.
Manning has to stop pressing. When is the last time you can remember him simply throwing the ball away? Manning is the ultimate competitor, and as such, he tries to be the aggressor in all things.
But many of his 13 interceptions wouldn't have happened if he harkened to that golden rule. If it's not there, throw it away. Take the sack. He's taking the hits anyway.
Last week in Indianapolis, we saw Manning tempt fate once again with an interception thrown late in the fourth quarter. But this time, his defense wasn't able to get a stop and fate extracted it's pound of flesh.
The Broncos lost.
Manning isn't the same player he was in 2013. He has taken a step backward and he's battling a foot injury. That shouldn't come as a shocker. Father Time is no respector of persons.
Thus, it is incument upon Gary Kubiak to take more control of the offense and alleviate what Peyton might perceive as the sole burden of driving the unit.
You can't run the ball 14 times and throw it 36 and expect to win consistently, as the Broncos did last week. Some of that was dictated by game situation but much of it is a symptom of Manning's offensive proclivities.
Return To Balance
One of the frustrating aspects of the Broncos unwillingness to run the ball last week is the fact that C.J. Anderson has gotten his groove back.
Over the last two games, Anderson has rushed for 135 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. The bye week seemed to do wonders for him. He has his burst back and the ability to break tackles that took him to the Pro Bowl last year.
Anderson also seems to be seeing the field better. He's showing better vision and decisiveness. Some of that is him settling in to Kubiak's offense, some of it is finally getting healthy and some of it is the offensive line's progression as the season marches on.
Kubiak needs to feed Anderson right now. At home, I expect Anderson to get the ball consistently against the Chiefs. The Broncos use of multiple tight ends of late only bolsters that effort.
It's Week 10 and this is only the Broncos fourth home game of the season. That helps Manning and it should help the Broncos rushing attack, especially going against a Chiefs defense allowing 100.6 yards per game.
We saw in Week 8 how the commitment to the running game, especially when it's well-executed, affects Manning. It's a quarterback's best friend.
Let Anderson take some of the pressure off of Manning. Balance the offensive scales and put the Chiefs defense, who are eager to get after the quarterback, on their heels.
Time For The Vonster To Smarten Up and Break Loose
Von Miller's 2015 season has been quietly dominant. I say "quietly" because his stat sheet isn't as full as it has been in years past, but he's been just as impactful as ever.
He's been relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. Last week, he hit Andrew Luck multiple times, but didn't register a sack. The Colts successfully countered the Broncos pass rush with the use of two and three tight end sets.
The Chiefs will try to follow suit, using multiple tight ends. But Miller has to find a way to fight through. He has four sacks in the last three meetings with the Chiefs.
Kansas City made the fateful decision of letting some of their best offensive linemen depart via free agency. The end result has been Alex Smith consistently on his back.
The Chiefs have given up a whopping 29 sacks on the season. That's one less than the Broncos defense have combined and they lead the league. The Chiefs O-line have been a sieve.
Sacks often come in bunches and Von Miller is itching to have a multi-sack game.
“As long as we're getting sacks, as long as we're playing dominant defense, that's okay with me," Miller said Thursday. "I can always do a lot better, a lot more, and that's what I'm going to try to do this week. [I am] trying to get the sacks this week. The game is coming. Hopefully it will be this week.”
Miller's name has been raked through the mud this week by the Kansas City blogosphere, calling him a dirty player. And in all honesty, it's not without some justification.
Miller's been flagged for roughing the passer and involved in some plays after the whistle this season, including a very late hit on Alex Smith in Week 2. That's the way he plays the game — with aggression. And it's hard to turn that switch off.
The Broncos defense is the most penalized in the league. Miller spoke to that earlier this week.
“They've [the penalites] got me scratching my head," Miller said. "I said at the beginning of the season the penalties are going to stop. The timing—I kind of think that we've been working on timing a little bit, but I don't know. Some of the penalties, you just can't—like the hit that T.J. had is just something that you've just got to play with.”
Wade Phillips' unit has been severely chastized for their conduct in the Colts last possession of the game last week, wherein they were penalized five times. Expect them to play a cleaner game this week, especially with the officials calling the Broncos defense a little tighter.
The Broncos have developed a reputation in that department. Charge it to the game, they say. It's the collateral damage of being aggressive and physically dominant.
But, plays after the whistle, and selfish penalties that hurt the team, will not be tolerated further by the coaching staff. Curtail the penalties, and crush the quarterback. That will be Von Miller's mission in Week 10.
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Chad Jensen is the Publisher of Mile High Huddle. You can find him on Twitter @ChadNJensen.
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