Wednesday, September 26, 2018

An Early Look At The Kansas City Chiefs Versus The Denver Broncos

The NFL season feels like it's in full swing as the Kansas City Chiefs go to Denver to play the Broncos. This is a very important game for the Chiefs! The Broncos are 2-1, in second place in the division, and this could be a statement game for the Chiefs. It's important for the Chiefs to come out showing all of us fans and themselves that this season is different. It's not just a fast start like last year, but there's some substance to this team. The way to show that is by stepping on the Denver Broncos throat Monday night in their home stadium. The Oakland Raiders are 0-3 and the Los Angeles Chargers are 1-3, so if the Chiefs win this game they go to 4-0, while Denver goes to 2-2. This gives the Chiefs a very good start to winning the division.
Tot Tot Tot PassPassPassPassPassPassPass RushRushRushRushRush PenaPena
Player PF Yds Ply Y/P TO FL 1stD Cmp Att Yds TD Int NY/A 1stD Att Yds TD Y/A 1stD Pen Yds
Team Stats6111481975.8506366108714356.3328443445.22626215
Opp. Stats7010211855.5315473105788526.9397123333.3918127
Lg Rank Offense19111911614162227149345
Lg Rank Defense1614191791622151623104202
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/26/2018.

The Broncos have a winning record but have had a rough start to the season. This isn't the Broncos team from a couple years ago that was great on defense. These Broncos are struggling on defense this year, especially in the secondary. The Broncos are giving up 6.9 yards per passing attempt, which for context is just a little bit better than the Chiefs 7.4 yards per attempt. Their defensive line is playing very well though, they're only giving up 3.3 yards per rush and they have nine sacks on the season. So those are pretty impressive totals from their front seven through three weeks.

From everything I can find, it seems the Broncos secondary is playing more zone this year and they're playing soft, giving receivers plenty of cushion.  This allows opponents easy receptions when the corners are playing off and then it also negates the pass rush of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. This is something that the Chiefs will need to take into account. The Denver crowd will surely be pumped up and I'm sure that Miller will come out trying to prove something. That makes this a big game for Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. I'm guessing the Chiefs will run a lot of quick hitting short routes like slants.

It sounds like Denver's linebackers are having a lot of trouble in coverage zones over the middle and their safeties aren't playing that well, which sounds a lot like the Chiefs. If you look a little deeper at the Broncos stats through their first three games, to running backs and tight ends, opposing teams have completed 31 of 40 passes. That is over 75% completions to go with 2 touchdowns and over 300 yards passing. That's not the only trouble the secondary has been having. The completion percentage to wide receivers is much lower, but they have got plenty of yardage against them and three touchdowns.

As far as the Broncos sack total, they got six sacks week one against Russell Wilson. I think these could be attributed to Wilson trying to make to much happen. So over the last two weeks, they've only got three sacks, which kind of negates how impressive their sack total is. Against Seattle, tight end Will Dissly had three receptions, but they went for 105 yards and a touchdown. In week two against Oakland, Amari Cooper got 10 targets catching all 10 of them for 116 yards. Then last week against the Ravens, Michael Crabtree caught 7 of 10 targets for 61 yards. John Brown, the Ravens deep threat, caught 5 of 9 for 86 yards. Sammy Watkins and Tyreek Hill are both extremely talented deep threats who should be able to take advantage of a similar matchup.

No. Player  Pos QBrec Cmp Att Cmp% Yds TD Int Lng Y/A AY/A Y/C Y/G Rate Sk Yds
4Case KeenumQB2-1-06610861.174335436.95.411.3247.771.6529
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/26/2018.

On offense, the Broncos are averaging just a little over 20 points a game. So far, quarterback Case Keenum has been a disappointment! He hasn't had a touchdown in the last two weeks and he's thrown at least one interception in each game so far. The first week against Seattle he threw 3 picks and then one in each of the last two games. Another alarming trend for Keenum and the Broncos offense as a whole is that each week their offensive yards have went down about 90 yards a game. They started out week one against Seattle with 470 total yards, then against the Raiders 385 yards, and then last week against Baltimore 293 yards. It's not trending in the right way and when you break that down even further, a lot of that is the passing offense. They went for 324 yards passing against Seattle, then 217 against Oakland, and then just for 173 against the Ravens.
Broncos Rushing & Receiving Table
Game RushRushRushRushRushRushRush ReceReceReceReceReceReceRece TotaTotaTota
No. Player  Pos G Att Yds TD Lng Y/A Y/G A/G Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng Ctch% Touch Y/Tch YScm Fmb
28Royce FreemanRB3361522174.250.712.02155.00550.0%374.21570
2Phillip Lindsay3331980536.066.011.0633511.712950.0%366.52330
23Devontae Booker310310113.110.33.397456.40977.8%174.5760
4Case KeenumQB3316185.
Team Total3844344535.2144.728.01076674311.33431507.811771
Opp Total37123333.377.723.77378810.8510214
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/26/2018.

On the flip side of that, Denver's ran the ball extremely well. They've had over 100 yards rushing in all three games. They have a two headed attack in the backfield with two rookies, and then they've still got Devontae Booker who plays a lot on third downs. Phillip Lindsay is one of the rookie running backs. He was an undrafted, free agent, and he's really been really good out of that backfield so far. I've just got to see him play a little bit and he's a very electric runner. He knows how to make himself small, he can get to top speed quickly and he's very fast. Lindsay’s averaging six yards a rush, and then there's also Royce Freeman who was their third round pick this year. Freeman has averaged 4.2 yards per carry and he's a bigger back who gets the hard yards. Then Devontae Booker has had 10 carries, but he's only averaged three yards a carry. He's been by far the worst of the three backs rushing, but Booker has caught seven receptions for 45 yards. I feel like Philip Lindsay is much more dangerous receiving than any of the other backs with that top end speed. He's only got three receptions on the year, but one of them was for 29 yards and a touchdown. It's fair to say, at the very least, Lindsay is the one big play threat they have in their backfield.

Broncos Receiving Table
Game ReceReceReceReceReceReceReceReceRece TotaTota
No. Player  Age G Tgt Rec Yds Y/R TD Lng R/G Y/G Ctch% Touch YScm RRTD Fmb
10Emmanuel Sanders313231926914.21436.389.782.6%2030420
32Andy Janovich253111111.00110.33.7100.0%21300
88Demaryius Thomas31326161449.01235.348.061.5%1614410
80Jake Butt2331388510.60222.728.361.5%88500
82Jeff Heuerman26385326.40151.710.762.5%53200
14Courtland Sutton2331459118.20251.730.335.7%59100
81Tim Patrick253412626.00260.38.725.0%12600
Team Total26.831076674311.334322.0247.7150117771
Opp Total37378810.8524.3262.7102184
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/26/2018.

Demaryius Thomas has been Keenum’s favorite receiver with 26 targets, that's the same amount that Kelce has for the Chiefs, but he's only caught 16 of those for 144 yards. So that's just nine yards a clip. Emmanuel Sanders on the other hand, has 23 targets but he's caught 19 of them for 269 yards and over 14 yards per catch, so that's much more dynamic. Then to go with those two top two receivers, they've got rookie Cortland Sutton who's had 14 targets, but as only caught five of them. Sutton and Keenum just haven't really been clicking yet. He's dropped a couple passes he probably should have caught, and looks like a young receiver figuring it out. But with those five receptions, he's got 91 yards for over 18 yards per reception. Where Emmanuel Sanders is kind of the speed guy who can get open deep, Sutton has good speed but he's also big and can go up attacking the deep ball.

UPDATE: Broncos Tight End Jake Butt out for season with torn ACL.

Their next leading receiver is Jake Butt, who's had 13 targets while catching eight of those for 85 yards. He's somebody who I'm worried about, especially when you add his numbers with Jeff Heuerman their other tight end. They use both of their tight ends a lot, between the two of them they've got 21 targets for 13 catches and 117 yards. Tight ends have been a real area of weakness for the Chiefs’ defense. The first week the Chargers had just signed Antonio Gates, and they're tight end situation wasn't very good, but the last two weeks the Chiefs have been torched. In those two weeks combined, they allowed 14 catches on 18 targets for 250 yards and 1 touchdown. So the Chiefs really need to show some improvement against these tight ends or the Broncos are going to have easy throws to them all game. That's something that could be dangerous for the Chiefs, because the Broncos do have big player receivers. One thing about big player receivers is that the completion percentage to them isn't that high, for teams not named the Chiefs, so if you stop enough plays you can get them off the field. But if the Broncos tight end is constantly open, that gives Keenum nice easy throws to pick up first downs and gives the Broncos a lot more opportunities to hit the bigger plays.

On the Broncos defense, Von Miller has been a beast with four sacks, and he's third on the team with 14 tackles. The linebacker Todd Davis leads the Broncos with 21 tackles, and then like I mentioned earlier, they have 9 total sacks on the season. Rookie Bradley Chubb has chipped in for 1.5 sacks and is definitely somebody to watch going up against Eric Fisher. It's their first time seeing each other and hopefully Fisher can get on him early, showing him that he's going to own him every time they play.

With the Chiefs, I expect Mahomes to be able to go in and throw very well against the Broncos. I do feel like there's a chance that the Chiefs turn the ball over in this game, not necessarily through an interception, but Von Miller is known for strip sacks. I could see the Broncos, especially with that crowd, getting a couple turnovers. So I think it's very important that the Chiefs, on the other side, take advantage of their opportunities. I mentioned earlier Keenum has had a turnover every game so far, the Chiefs need to continue that trend.

I expect Kelce to be involved pretty heavily this week the Broncos haven't been great against tight ends so far. I expect the Broncos to bring pressure early, so I imagine to see a handful of those screens that we saw this last week against the 49ers, and then the quick slant which is really becoming important for the Chiefs. It seems like Sammy Watkins and Chris Conley both run slants very well and that will definitely be a quick hit factor for the Chiefs against this Broncos pass rush. Tyreek Hill is also great at getting open extremely quick!

I don't expect the Chiefs to run a whole lot, the Broncos run D is very good. I'm sure that Reid will still run a bit just trying to keep the Broncos honest, but it wont be a huge factor in this game. It will just be very important that Kareem Hunt gets the yards that are there and that Reid doesn’t always call obvious runs. The Chiefs definitely don't want to get in a position against this team where they have 3rd and long, having to pass, because there's still some very talented defensive players on the Broncos.

On defense for the Chiefs, I expect Denver to run the ball a lot in this game. I think they look at it like it will slow the clock and kind of build momentum for Denver. The tight ends will probably be open a lot in this game so the short passing game will be there to go with the running game. This could open up the deep play action, which is one thing the Chiefs have been good at this season not giving up big passing plays. I think this is kind of what Denver is built for, trying to take a few chances in the deep game and it's going to be important to stop those plays. This Chiefs defense has given up quite a few points to teams so far and Denver hasn't been that great on offense, so it's important for the Chiefs not to make the Broncos better than they are. This Chiefs offense is going to just have a bad game eventually, even if that is still like 24 points, but you've got to be able to keep the other team from scoring more than that. Wow, I'm like the John Madden of bloggers kind of stating the obvious!

On DraftKings this week, I believe Patrick Mahomes is still a very solid play especially after his price actually dropped a little bit this week to $6,800. I assume that is because he's playing the Broncos, but the Broncos pass defense hasn't been good. Until somebody shows that they can stop him, I would play Mahomes all day. Then the other player that really stands out on the Chiefs for me this week is Sammy Watkins. DraftKings still hasn't raised his price much, just up to $5,300 and he's averaged over 15 fantasy points a game so far. Watkins has been steady in this offense, but he could always go off for a couple touchdowns with Mahomes slinging the ball.

On Denver, I'm looking at Phillip Lindsay as somebody who could really hurt the Chiefs and score big in fantasy. Last week, Matt Breida for the 49ers averaged nine yards a carry against the Chiefs defense and Lindsay has the same type of ability, but he might even be faster. Lindsay is very cheap and only cost $4,500 on DraftKings. I feel like even if the Broncos get behind the Chiefs early, they will play similar to what San Francisco did where they don't completely abandon their run game. That's the one thing that Broncos do really well and they can kind of hang their hat on it. I expect the other running back to get touches, Royce Freeman is only $4,400 for them. I will probably play him in a few contests and just switch him out with with Lindsay. Then if you want a real sleeper receiver, Cortland Sutton only s $3,400. Like I said earlier, he's a big receiver with good speed and they'llprobably try to match him up on Stephen Nelson or Orlando Scandrick. Sutton will have a big size advantage on either one of those guys and Keenum will throw the ball up, letting his receivers try to make plays. I could see Sutton getting a touchdown in this game, throw in a few receiving yards and will more than pay off.

I would stay away from Kareem Hunt this week. If he does get fantasy value it would just be from touchdowns like last week. Hunt’s not going to rack up a ton of yardage, and he hasn't been getting passing targets. As far as Tyreek Hill goes, his price $8,200 has stayed pretty high and his last two weeks haven't been that impressive. Now this is just a personal feeling, my brain is not involved in this decision, but I feel like Hill can be worth that much money this week. It seems like against Denver, Hill has a way of going off and it's Monday night, it's prime time. I can see the Broncos not focusing as much on stopping Hill and trying to clamp down on Kelce, which would be a mistake. I say play Kelce at your own risk, his price is $6,800 dollars on DraftKings. He has led the team in targets the last two weeks. I don't know if that's going to be a trend that continues or if Andy Reid shifts gears this week.

I’m going to take the Chiefs 48-35 over the Broncos. I think the Broncos offense will get some good chunks of yardage and a few big plays. This will force Patrick Mahomes and the offense to score with more of a sense of urgency. Go Chiefs!