Week 17 Tale of the Tape: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackThe Chiefs clinched the AFC West title when they defeated the Miami Dolphins in Week 16, their third straight victory after losing six of seven. Alex Smith rediscovered his ability to lead the team after a long slump had left the Chiefs with a 6-6 record. Smith is capable of hitting big plays that can stretch the defense, and that’s the reason Kansas City is more dangerous than they have been in previous years.The Broncos have endured a miserable season, and one of the things that John Elway will have to address is the weakness at the quarterback position. Brock Osweiler has started in recent weeks, and he struggles to read coverage and find open receivers with consistency. If the Broncos fall behind early, it is unlikely that Osweiler has the skill to bring his team back in a comeback situation.
- OffenseAfter the offense went into a deep malaise during their losing skein, the Chiefs are back to making big plays on a consistent basis. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt has shown the ability to make tacklers miss with his first move. Hill is a constant deep threat because he is among the fastest players in the league. Travis Kelce excels in game-changing situations.The Broncos have solid skill-position players, but they are hurt badly by their inconsistency at the quarterback position. C.J. Anderson is a fine runner who has moves to make the tackler miss and the long speed to extend plays. Demaryius Thomas is a skilled wideout who can win the 50-50 ball and Emmanuel Sanders is a strong deep threat.
- DefenseThe Chiefs defense has stepped it up in recent weeks, but this unit is not the most athletic and it has a hard time keeping up with faster teams. If the Chiefs are going to play well defensively, Justin Houston is going to have to put pressure on the quarterback. Cornerback Marcus Peters is an excellent cover man, but he has lost control of his emotions at several points this season.The Broncos have played well on defense and they rank second in yards allowed, but this unit could not help the team win games earlier in the season when the offense couldn’t produce. Von Miller is still a dominant defensive player who is capable of taking over any game and getting to the quarterback, while linebacker Brandon Marshall is an exceptional tackler.
- Special TeamsThe Chiefs rank with the best teams in the league for special-teams performance, and the explosive Hill is capable of making a game-changing punt return. Placekicker Harrison Butker has given the Chiefs a dependable leg, while Dustin Colquitt is a fine punter.The Broncos have had a miserable year on special teams, and that’s something that will have to be addressed in the offseason. They have been outdistanced on both punt- and kickoff-return differential, while Brandon McManus is an unreliable field goal kicker.
Look for the Broncos to come up with a decent effort in the season finale so they leave their fans with a decent feeling as the team heads towards the 2018 season.