The Kansas City Chiefs will finally put their disastrous 2012 season to bed Sunday afternoon against the Denver Broncos in a matchup of two teams that couldn’t be headed in more different directions.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos have won 10 straight and could lock in home field advantage throughout the playoffs Sunday, while Romeo Crennel and the Chiefs have won just two games all year and will take home the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft with a loss.
Denver’s offense has been nearly unstoppable, scoring at least 30 points in 10 games so far this season. Kansas City’s putrid offense never scored more than 27 points in a game and only reached 20 points four times.
The Chiefs were able to limit the Broncos to a season-low 17 points the last time these two teams met, but that was at Arrowhead Stadium and Crennel’s team didn’t have a third of the roster on the final injury report.
There’s a good chance Crennel’s fate has already been decided, but it will be interesting to see if he can get his players to rally around him the way they did last year after Todd Haley was fired. Again, he’s likely out either way, but it’s worth watching Sunday afternoon in Denver.
Here are the three players that can help lead the way to an improbably victory against the Broncos.
Offense: Jamaal Charles
Is there anyone else?
Despite playing for the worst offense (and coaching staff) in football, Charles has put together a season worthy of the Chiefs team MVP award. Fresh off a torn ACL, the electric running back has put up 1,456 yards, including an amazing 226 last week against the playoff-bound Indianapolis Colts.
Charles put up 107 yards the first time these two teams met, but the number that is likely most on his mind before he takes the field is 44. That will put him at 1,500 for the season, a number he’s talked about wanting to surpass.
Crennel says the Chiefs will go all out to win and that means a heavy dose of Charles. But if the team was going to do what’s best for the future of the franchise, they would sit him down early with a pat on the back for an amazing effort in lost season.
Defense: Derrick Johnson
Like Charles, there’s no doubt Johnson has been the leader of his unit. The Chiefs defense hasn’t exactly been given a lot of meaningful series to play this season, but the linebacker has never taken his foot off the gas.
Crennel has shown an ability to slow down Manning with his game plans and Johnson will be the conductor on the field. When the Broncos came to Arrowhead, they only managed to turn them over once, a number that will need to likely triple if the Chiefs have a chance to keep things close again.
Johnson has had a knack for coming up with big plays the last few years… can he do it just one more time for his head coach?
Special Teams: Devon Wylie
The terrible offense has gotten most of the attention, but the Chiefs special teams play has been just as bad, if not worse. Both the kick and punt return units have failed to deliver a single game changing play this season and there’s no reason to think that is going to change the final week of the season.
With that being said, it looks like Wylie is going to be the guy trying to change that. He wasn’t able to find any room to work last week against the Colts, averaging just 18 yards on three kick returns and 0.7 yards on three punt returns.
The disappointing rookie — like plenty of the other fringe players — has a chance to start his audition for the new Chiefs coaching staff early. Here’s hopi