Eavesdropping On The Enemy: Chiefs-Broncos II

Each week this season I go undercover and spy on the opposing fans of each Chiefs opponent. I believe the fans of the individual teams are the true experts on the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Each week I'll attempt to find out how they view the upcoming game, how their offense will fare against the Chiefs defense and how their defense will fare against the Chiefs offense.

This week the Chiefs look for playoff legitimacy as they host the Denver Broncos on Thanksgiving night. For the second week in a row, the Chiefs face a must-win game if they are to be a playoff team in January. The Chiefs simply must win this game if they hope to catch the San Diego Chargers and win the AFC West. Even if they can't overcome the two-game deficit within the division, the Chiefs are in the heat of the wild-card battle. There are currently five teams (Chiefs, Jaguars, Broncos, Bengals and Jets) seeking two spots. Obviously, this game has huge playoff implications.

This week I spied once again on The Orangemane. The fans on this board are very frustrated with their defense and with quarterback Jake Plummer after the Broncos blew a 17-point lead against the Chargers and lost an important AFC West battle at home. Many fans are calling for rookie Jay Cutler to start and Plummer to be benched.

Broncos Offense vs. Chiefs Defense

"Our rushing game is back…. if we need it we've got chef killer in Walker so I expect Shanahan to try some big play passes." fontaine – The Orangemane

"I also feel he will get between 130-160 yards on the ground & 1-2 T's but it will still be a FG game coming down to if Jake Plummer craps down his leg or makes a play." broncosteven – The Orangemane

"On offense we need to establish the running game, and allow Jake to run some PA and bootlegs. If not then Jake will have to beat them in the pocket and we all know how that works out." Rascal – The Orangemane

"There's no doubt I want to see Jake shredding the KC defense with the bootleg." taco john – The Orangemane

The Spy's analysis

I'll start this analysis the same way I started it before Week 2. MISDIRECTION!!!! This is the key word for the Chiefs defense and Chiefs fans again. Quarterback Jake Plummer struggled against the Chargers last week. I would expect head coach Mike Shanahan to try to play to Plummer's strengths. That would involve moving Plummer out of the pocket. That means bootlegs, and lots of them. This season the Chiefs have been pretty good against bootlegs, especially defensive ends Jared Allen and Tamba Hali. Those two players will have to stay focused and stay disciplined in this game. They cannot go crashing down the line and leave the corner exposed. The Chiefs need to take away the bootlegs and rollouts and force Plummer to be a pocket passer. The best way to do that is for the ends to be disciplined and for the front seven to stop the run. The Broncos run the ball pretty well and will look to run the ball effectively against the Chiefs. Stopping the run nullifies the bootleg, because it will put the Broncos in obvious passing downs.

Misdirection also means reverses. These plays have been back breakers for the Chiefs, and Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker took one to the house against the Steelers. The Chiefs defense must remain disciplined in their assignments.

Finally, Walker has progressed very well with his new team. The Chiefs must be aware of him at all times and not let him have a highlight day.

Broncos Defense vs. Chiefs Offense

"The Broncos defense must slow down LJ enough that they are forced to go to Gonzo and Kennison, if they don't slow LJ down and they can pick and choose when to pass it's going to be a long game." Rascal – The Orangemane

"I believe in this defense. I believe what Marty said about our defense being the "Best tackling defense in the NFL." We are lucky to have three consummate overachievers/leaders on our defense in Wilson, Bailey, and Lynch. We need to stop the run in KC. What we need is a big game from Warren. He needs to get pissed and clog up that middle. We need Warren to get psyched and slow down Johnson. If Warren can shutdown some lanes then we can get more tacklers to Johnson." orangenblue – The Orangemane

"I think we'll do fine in KC on D; but not because "I believe in this defense." We'll do fine on D because KC is a second-tier offense, probably in the lower half of the second tier offenses. (This is not a hit on KC--the second tier ends well above the bottom half of the league.) Our defense does just fine against second tier teams. It's when we face the elite, first-tier offenses that we implode." fdf – The Orangemane

"It's not going to be a high scoring game because KC will have to go max protect to keep Green's head clear, and Champ will take away one half of the field. That leaves us to handle Gonzo and he might not be ready. Even if he is, he'll be playing with a bad shoulder and he's not going to be able to outmuscle defenders for the ball, block etc….They've got a patchwork OL, with a QB who has trouble remembering his name, Gonzo's busted up, and their WRs suck." fontaine – The Orangemane

The Spy's Analysis

It doesn't take an NFL genius to understand where Denver's focus will be this week. Larry Johnson had a very good game against them in Denver in Week 2. Ladanian Tomlinson had a great game against them last week. There is very little doubt that they will attack the line to stop LJ. With that in mind, the Chiefs must use play action and reverses with the wide receivers to take advantage of the focus on LJ. Offensive coordinator Mike Solari must also stay with the run game and the Chiefs offensive line must also block effectively. LJ can wear down a defense if he gets enough touches. Play-action passing and reverses early should soften them up a bit for LJ's pounding.

The Chiefs should be able to take advantage of a banged-up secondary, especially the safeties. If Tony Gonzalez is near healthy, he and Kris Wilson could be very effective moving the chains. A key matchup will be Chiefs wide receive Samie Parker against Broncos corner Darrent Williams. The Chiefs will need a couple of big plays in the passing game and they are unlikely to come against Champ Bailey, who is having a Pro Bowl year. The Chiefs need Parker to break out in this game. He had two key receptions on the Chiefs game winning drive last week against the Raiders. It would be nice to see Parker carry that over into this game.

The Spy's Summary

This is the type of game that defines a season: two rivals battling with playoff implications on the line. As we've said all season, the offensive and defensive lines will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game. The Chiefs get left guard Brian Waters back for this game and that should help the offensive line. Chris Terry got his first action as a Chief last week and played pretty well at right tackle. His confidence should be higher this week.

The Arrowhead crowd should be fired up for this game. They have had a huge impact in the home games this year and need to bring it again. The advantage the crowd noise gives the defensive line helps in creating turnovers. The Chiefs need to partner with the crowd to produce them again. A win this week and the Chiefs are sitting near the top of that five-team wild-card race and will still have a good shot at the AFC West crown.

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