Players To Watch: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos

The Kansas City Chiefs will be out for revenge when they welcome the Denver Broncos to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Three weeks ago the Broncos handed the Chiefs an embarrassing 49-29 loss in Denver, running out to a 35-0 lead in the second quarter.  However, since that game Kansas City seems to be a motivated team as they have won two in a row over NFC West opponents by a combined score of 73-34.

Denver, meanwhile, has gone in the other direction.  Not only are they caught up in the “Spygate” scandal, but they have dropped their last two games over the St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers by a score of 71-47.

With the Chargers just one game behind the Chiefs in the AFC West, this is a win they need for more reasons than just revenge.

Here are the three players from each team that you will need to keep your eyes on.

Chiefs

Offense: Jamaal Charles

For the first time in quite a while, the Chiefs passing game led by Matt Cassel and Dwayne Bowe is the focus of the local and national media.  It makes sense considering the magical run that Bowe is in on but don’t sleep on Charles who is a week removed from a 173 yard effort against the Cardinals.

The whole team should be looking for redemption, but none more than Charles.  In the loss to the Broncos, he was held to a season-low 41 yards on 14 carries.  That was against the same team that allowed him to pick up a near-league record 259 yards at the end of last season.

While Todd Haley will no doubt look to ride the hot hand in the passing game, look for Charles and Jones to get a chance to show why they are the league’s leading rushing duo.

Defense: Jon McGraw

You can find fault for the Chiefs blowout loss in every unit, but the defense got cut up from the opening by the Broncos offense.  Hard to imagine how things would have been different if Kansas City had more depth in the secondary thanks to injuries to Kendrick Lewis and McGraw.  Lewis might find himself on the sidelines Sunday after being downgraded to questionable but McGraw should be back after missing three games.

No one is saying that McGraw is an ultimate game changer, but he is a huge upgrade over a Donald Washington.  Getting him back should allow for a much wider margin of error in the secondary.

Special Teams: Dustin Colquitt

Round one of Colquitt vs. Colquitt went to Dustin’s brother Britton.  Since then it looks like the elder Colquitt is starting to round back into the form he has shown throughout most of his 6 seasons in Kansas City.  Britton has continued to pound the ball for Denver, making this quite the game for you punting enthusiasts.

If you ask Haley, I’m sure he would be happy just to see all of the punts go past the line of scrimmage after the Broncos blocked a Colquitt punt and returned it for a touchdown.

Broncos

Offense: Knowshon Moreno

Wait a minute, a game with two teams that combined for 732 passing yards a few weeks ago will feature their running backs?  In Moreno’s case, he had the best game of his young career against Kansas City and will be looking to get back on track after a slow two weeks.

At no point did Moreno rip off a huge run against the Chiefs, but consistently picked up 5-6 yards as the Broncos wore down the Kansas City defense.  While it’s a must to smack Kyle Orton in the mouth, Moreno cannot be allowed to help keep drives alive.  Hold him to his usual 50-60 yards and there’s little chance of another Denver victory.

Defense: Mario Haggan

Haggan was in this position the last time these two teams met and proved why: 6 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble that ended up being returned for a touchdown.  Over the last two weeks he’s had 7 tackles and 1 sack, but will be looking to at least put up those numbers against the Chiefs tackles.

Consider that Matt Cassel has only been sacked 15 times this season and Haggan is responsible for 20 percent of those.  Before Kansas City can try and get Charles or Cassel going, they better prove they can get Haggan blocked somewhat consistently.

Special Teams: Britton Colquitt

He only kicked the ball twice last time out against the Chiefs but still had the advantage over his brother due to none of his punts being blocked.  This time around it might not be so easy to win the family battle.

The one positive thing that Haley and special teams coach Steve Hoffman could take from that first game (yes, probably the only positive) was that the only Colquitt kick that was returnable was taken by Javier Arenas for 16 yards.  If the defense can actually force the Broncos offense to punt the ball, the struggling Chiefs return unit should feel confident that they can get something going against Colquitt’s big leg.

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