The Kansas City Chiefs look to snap their five game losing streak and end the season on a high note when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos. Can the Chiefs finally double their win total from 2008 or are the destined for the Top 3 of the NFL Draft? Will the Broncos do all they can to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot?
Here are three players (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) from each team to keep your eyes on.
Offense: Jamaal Charles
Does this look familiar? These days the entire Chiefs offense revolves around Charles and his ability to break the big play. And this week there’s an additional incentive with the second-year running back sitting only 139 yards short of 1,000 for the season.
Over the past three weeks, Charles has averaged 133 yards per game and is in a great position to hit his magic number. But last time he faced Denver he was only able to muster 56 yards on 18 carries, easily his worst performance since taking over for Larry Johnson as the Chiefs starting running back.
Defense: Tyson Jackson
It might look more and more like the Chiefs have found the answer at running back with Charles, but questions still exist up and down the defensive line. It sure would make the Kansas City coaching staff (not to mention the fans) feel a lot better about their first round pick if Jackson could have his name called plenty Sunday against Denver.
Jackson has worked his tail off this year and over the past three weeks that has really started to show. He’s averaged 6 tackles a game over that span but could really use one big exclamation point here to finish the season especially against one of the Chiefs biggest rivals.
Special Teams: Ryan Succop
Mr. Irrelevant has an outside chance to end his rookie campaign with the second most points ever by a Chiefs rookie kicker. He currently sits third with 90 points, 14 short of tying Jack Spikes’ 1960 season. Succop has only scored in double digits three times this year, but it’s not the most obscene thought that he kicks two extra points and four field goals.
With all of the focus — and rightfully so — on Charles’ quest for 1,000 yards, there should be a very large spotlight on the amazing rookie season that Succop has produced. As Todd Haley searches for answers throughout this team, it’s good to know he doesn’t have to worry about one of the more important positions.
Offense: Knowshon Moreno
It’s no secret that the way to knock out the Chiefs is by battering them on the ground and Moreno will be the one leading that charge for Denver. He’ll especially be looking for a big game after only getting to carry the ball 9 times for 18 yards as the Broncos tried to dig out from a big hole last week against the Eagles.
The rookie that shares a hometown with yours truly will have a similar to-do list as Jamaal Charles: Get to 1,000 yards. Moreno has yet to run for 100 yards in a game this year and will need just north of that (103) in order to break into the 1,000 yard club. With the way Kansas City struggles against the run and Denver being without Brandon Marshall, Tony Scheffler and possibly Eddie Royal it seems like a safe bet Moreno will get a season-high number of carries.
Defense: Elvis Dumervil
Like he has been most of the season, Dumervil was all over the field the last time these two teams met. In that game he “only” had one sack but was harassing Cassel off the corner all game long. Obviously the Broncos need to win in order for their very slim playoff hopes to stay alive, but Dumervil has additional motivation: a new contract. If you’ll remember, the last time the Chiefs took on a player with eyes locked on a new deal it was Josh Cribbs and we know how that ended up.
Last week against the Eagles he sacked Donovan McNabb twice and forced a fumble. In order for Cassel to officially survive his first season in Kansas City, the Chiefs offensive line needs to do whatever they can to contain Dumervil.
Special Teams: Alphonso Smith
Denver’s kick and punt returner, Eddie Royal, will be a game-time decision on Sunday and if he can’t go there are a huge group of players that could handle his duties led by Smith. Last week against the Eagles he was the only player that returned both a kickoff and punt and looked decent doing it.
With the Broncos down 3 last week in the 4th quarter, Smith had a nifty 21 yard punt return to give Kyle Orton solid field position to try and tie the game or take the lead. Royal is more dangerous, but the Kansas City special teams need to make sure they don’t sleep on Smith if he ends up returning kicks Sunday.