The Kansas City Chiefs will try to rebound from last weekend’s 31-3 dismantling at the hands of the Miami Dolphins when they take on the Denver Broncos Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs will need a win if they want to still hold onto their tie atop the AFC West with the Oakland Raiders.
If the Chiefs are going to rebound, the first thing they will need to do is forget about last week’s disappointment and get back to playing the type of football that helped them win four straight games following a terrible 0-3 start.
Standing in the way of Todd Haley’s crew is a rejuvenated Broncos squad and one that is completely different than the one that started the season 1-4. With Tim Tebow taking over as Denver’s starting QB three weeks ago, the Broncos have become one of the more difficult teams to predict.
Denver has gone 2-1 with Tebow as their starer, including a 38-24 win over the first-place Raiders last week on the road in Oakland. Tebow and running back Willis McGahee are the headliners for a Broncos offense that is fifth in rushing the NFL and racked up nearly 300 yards on the ground against Oakland.
With five straight 2010 playoff teams up next for the Chiefs, they will need to get the job done Sunday against the Broncos if they have any legitimate hope of staying in the AFC West race.
Here are three players from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Steve Breaston
When the Broncos and Chiefs last faced each other, CB Champ Bailey held Dwayne Bowe without a catch. With the two expected to face off once again, that will shift a lot of pressure onto Breaston.
Considering the Denver secondary gave up nine plays of 20 yards or more last week to Carson Palmer and the Raiders, there should be no shortage of opportunities for Breaston who already has eight of his own catches of at least 20 yards.
Breaston is fresh off his first 100-yard game as a Chief and is poised for a repeat performance.
Defense: Derrick Johnson
Don’t worry if you don’t watch college football, you’ll see plenty of it Sunday when the Broncos run their option offense. The key to any option is getting defenders out of position. While any counter to the option starts up front, it’s Johnson in the middle that will need to cover up for any mistakes by the defensive ends.
After an down week (along with the rest of the defense) against the Dolphins, Johnson will need to get back to his All-Pro playing level that we all saw for most of the first half of the season.
If Johnson ends up chasing after Tebow too much instead of keeping him in front of him, the Chiefs defense will be in for a long, frustrating day.
Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt
Every time you think the Chiefs punter is putting together the perfect game he either shanks a 30 yarder or decides to try and run into the middle of the offensive line during a botched pooch punt. But Colquitt has had a very solid season and is just over a half yard away from being in the top five when it comes to net average.
Colquitt will need to improve that net average of his to help the Chiefs get past the Broncos. Last week Raiders punter Shane Lechler had an incredible 50.5 average, but also surrendered an 85-yard touchdown return. The one thing Colquitt has to make sure he avoids is giving the Broncos any room to work on returns.
Offense: Tim Tebow
He’s an easy punching bag for fans and media alike, but there’s no denying that Tebow has lit a fire under his teammates. That’s saying a lot for a quarterback that has averaged all of 152 yards in his three games a starter.
Because of Tebow’s unique ability to improvise, you cannot let him escape the pocket though that’s something that is usually easier said that done. Even in very limited duty against Kansas City last season, Tebow managed to find the end zone twice, a three-yard pass and a one-yard run.
Defense: Von Miller
A super-quick, athletic linebacker wearing No. 58 that has a knack of finding his way to the QB became a weekly sight at Arrowhead over the years. After all, it seemed Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas was always making a big play. Now the Broncos have a kid that models his game after Thomas and has gotten his career off to quite the start.
Miller has 6.5 sacks already (Chiefs LB Tamba Hali has 6) and constantly throwing quarterbacks to the ground. Chiefs QB Matt Cassel has taken eight sacks in the last two weeks, including vie against the Miami Dolphins, which likely has the young Miller licking his chops.
Special Teams: Britton Colquitt
The two youngest members in the first-family of punting will once again go head-to-head on Sunday.
Britton has a better average and net average than his brother (49.8-46.7 and 43.1-41.3) this season, but one short of Dustin when it comes to punts inside the 20. Both Colquitt’s are running neck and neck as we enter the second half of the season.