So this week I'm gonna fling some good karma our boy's way, well, at least for the most part. This week we get our much respected (yes, Sam, respected) division rivals from Kansas City. Here is how I see this weeks game.
1. See it, stick it, wrap it up!!! Lost amid the defense's end zone shut out last Sunday was a really sub-par day tackling. Short of Champ Bailey no one on the defense had a good day bringing down the ball carrier. This week the need to tackle well is compounded by the competition, Kansas City's all world running back Larry Johnson. The Chiefs line is struggling right now but Johnson is a load to bring down and runs hard every play. There are two keys to stopping Johnson and by proxy the Chiefs' running game, penetration and help.
The Broncos are incredibly fast on defense but somewhat undersized. If they can get into the Chiefs' backfield and fly to the ball as a team Johnson can be largely neutralized.
Prediction: The defense had a strong outing against the Rams, look for that to continue this week Johnson line 22 carries 71 yards.
2. Turn up the Turnovers. This will qualify as the "DUH!" moment of this weeks keys. The Broncos must be on the positive side of the turnover ratio to win this game. Not only do the statistics absolutely say it necessary, 80% of the time the team that wins the turnover battle wins the game, but the Broncos style of play depends on it. Unlike a lot of Bronco fans I don't blame last week on Jake. He really only made one horrible throw to Rod Smith that was picked off. The other two were a tipped ball and a throw that he had to make late because he was avoiding pressure.
Prediction: Jake rebounds with a 23 for 30 280yard 2TD performance
3. Heimerdinger maneuver. Like I said earlier, I don't put last weeks loss on Jake, I think the bulk of the responsibility rests on the broad shoulders of Mike Heimerdinger, Broncos assistant head coach and offensive play caller. Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett absolutely used Heimerdinger on Sunday. Corner blitzes on naked boot plays and formations that lined Leonard Little up against a running back blocking were just a few of the examples. This week gets no easier as the Broncos get to face a Gunther Cunningham coached defense, you can bet Cunningham watched last weeks film and took notes.
Prediction: Heimerdinger got this gig with the Broncos because he is a smart football guy. He and Shanahan will correct last weeks shortcomings and you can bet the farm that this weeks pass blocking schemes will be better thought out.
4. Pigs don't fly! And neither do Broncos. I am as big a fan of the passing game as anybody but the Broncos are a running team, end of story. Tatum Bell averaged 6.9 yards a carry against the Rams and Mike Bell was right behind him at 5.8. Those numbers usually translate to a Broncos win but last week the running game never seemed to take control of the game.
Prediction: This week Shanahan will come out and establish the run. Kansas City is decent on defense but their Achilles heel in the middle of their defensive line. Don't be surprised if both Bells break the century mark in this game.
5. Damon who? There is this phenomenon in the NFL called the "Frank Reich effect". For those of you who don't know who Reich is, he played backup quarterback for the Buffalo Bills in the late 80's and early 90's. He is also the man who, in 1993, led the Bills out of a 34 point hole in Houston and knocked the Warren Moon led Oilers out of the playoffs. Is Huard that kind of quarterback? I sure hope not but who knows? Backup quarterbacks sometimes have success in the NFL because nobody knows anything about how they play or their tendencies. Huard has started six NFL games, that doesn't give the Broncos much film to watch. The solution to this is pressure, from start to finish.
Prediction: Look for Kenard Lang, It's going to be his day. The match up between Lang and the Chief's tackles just doesn't look good for that offense. Put Lang down for three sacks.
6. The Frying pan and the Fire. Thanks to some great draft picks and one amazing trade the Broncos have one of the top five corner combinations in the NFL. Teams naturally stay away from the Broncos top corner, Champ Bailey, what does that do for them? In a word, nothing. Darrent Williams might not be a big guy but he flat out flies to the ball and hits like a man twenty pounds heavier.
Prediction: The Chiefs will do the smart thing and stay away from Bailey, unfortunately for them that makes for a big day for Williams, two picks with one going all the way back for a TD.
7. Ahhh seven......doesn't that just sound good to say.....come on try it.....seven. Ok so I'm a little biased. All in all this is a winable game. Good team bounce back from adversity, not so good teams don't. This week will tell us a lot about our Broncos. The only thing this game will be lacking is the Chiefs offensive leader. I would like to say now that my thoughts and prayers are with Trent Green and his family, here's to a speedy recovery.
Prediction: With Green out the Chiefs stumble on offense and don't stand up well to the run. The Broncos win going away 28-14.
Toby Thorp is long time contributor to BroncosUpdate.com. He has experience as a football player and commentator as well as being enough of a Denver Broncos fan that he tried to name his first son "Seven." Unfortunately the child's mother did not cooperate. You can e-mail Thorp at Bighungry71@yahoo.com with your arguments or critiques or post a message for Bighungry71 on our Broncos Hardcore Message Board.