Bronco Slayer?

Before the Chiefs played their first game against Denver last season, we discussed the concept of the Bronco Slayer: a player that always seems to be at his best against the hated Donkeys.

With the Bronco Slayers of the previous decade – names like Larry Johnson, Eddie Kennision, Dante Hall – now departed from Kansas City, the purpose of last year's column was to look for the next player or players who would step up and carry on the proud Bronco Slayer tradition.

Based on their subsequent performances, it's safe to say that three candidates have emerged.

Derrick Johnson
One of the first highlights of D.J.'s career came against Denver, when he exploded with a punishing sack of Broncos' QB Jake Plummer during his rookie season. But despite that singular play, Johnson's overall numbers against Denver haven't been anything to write home about.

Before last year, Johnson had played in seven games against the Broncos (missing one in 2006 due to injury), and he managed to compile 1.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 3 forced fumbles in a four-year span.

But in the final game of the 2009 season, he made two of the biggest plays of his career, picking off a pair of Kyle Orton passes and returning both of them for touchdowns. Four of Johnson's seven career interceptions and two of his three touchdowns have now come against the Broncos, which is the sort of dominance we're looking for in a Bronco Slayer.

However, it will take more than last year's game for him to assume that mantle. D.J. needs another strong performance on Sunday to officially carry the title. Fresh off his lucrative contract extension, hopefully he'll be looking to go out and prove why he's worth the money.

Jamaal Charles
Charles saw his first extended action against the Broncos last season and he didn't disappoint. He had 56 yards and a touchdown against Denver in the first meeting, but the game was so lopsided that the Chiefs eventually had to bail on their running game.

That wasn't the case in the rematch, however, when Charles scorched the Broncos for a franchise record 259 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

Of course, expecting Charles to come anywhere close to that figure on Sunday would be unrealistic now that he's no longer carrying the entire load at running back. And as discussed in this week's WPI Roundtable, no matter what the team is putting on the injury report, I think there are some unmistakable signs that Charles isn't playing at 100% (or as close to 100% as a player could reasonably be this far into the season).

But he doesn't need another performance of 200+ yards to establish himself as a Bronco Slayer. Over 100 yards and a score, plus whatever contributions he makes in the passing game, should have him well on his way to Slayer status.

Tamba Hali
In the first matchup between the two teams last season, Hali was practically unstoppable, notching three sacks of Broncos' QB Kyle Orton. On one of the sacks, left tackle Ryan Clady was actually flagged for holding, yet Hali still got to the quarterback anyway.

He added an additional sack in the final game, and probably could have had two if not for another holding penalty on Clady.

All told, Hali now has 6.5 sacks against the Broncos. That accounts for 18.5% of his career sack total and it's the most sacks he has against any specific opponent. If he gets some more on Sunday, it will be time to welcome him into the club.

Ultimately, though, it may take strong performances from all three players for the Chiefs to come away with a win on Sunday. For the 2-6 Broncos, a loss effectively ends their season, while a win allows them to maintain a tiny ray of hope.

Denver will be both desperate and well prepared coming off their bye week. A victory at Mile High is never easy, but if these three potential Slayers are at their best, a key division road win should be well within the Chiefs' grasp. Top Stories