Week 11 of his NFL Diary is all about the Broncos and Chiefs. Ryan Bradley breaks down what we learned from Sunday night’s showdown.
In week ten both winless teams won their first games of the season. In week eleven, the only remaining undefeated team, the Kansas City Chiefs went down at the hands of the Denver Broncos.
The 2013 Cinderella story lost to the 2013 story most pundits considered to be as good as scripted this season. Maybe both teams live up to these respective story lines, or maybe they are both just as flawed as any other NFL team, but have overcome more of those flaws at the right times than other teams.
Honestly, how much of mediocrity in sports is governed by more than right time, right place?
The day after the Broncos-Chiefs game I said to several people that I’d felt if the Chiefs couldn’t keep the Broncos to 17 points or less they were going to lose. Sure enough Kansas City allowed 27 points and lost. Somewhat ironically they scored 17.
In making my statement I had no data to back me up. I hadn’t looked back at the scores of the Chiefs other games this season, but the thought kept nagging me. So I relented and looked it up. Sure enough the Chiefs hadn’t allowed more than 17 points in any game this season before playing the Broncos.
Are the Chiefs really a contender? Are the Broncos? The truth is we won’t really know until the playoffs. But there was a certain level of exposure in this loss for the Chiefs. They’ve only scored more than 27 points themselves twice all season, against the Eagles and the Jaguars. They are a much better team when they aren’t in a situation where they have to match touchdowns back and forth for four quarters. Alex Smith is an underrated quarterback and has been his whole career, but he’s never been a dynamic passer. This is exactly why he gets overlooked. Is it fair? No. Will it change? Probably not.
The maxim says defense wins championships, and that’s partly true. But the nuts and bolts of football and many sports is that scoring more points than the other team is what wins, championships or otherwise. Maybe that’s the Yogi Berra answer, but it’s still the reality. Super Bowl winning teams have to face whatever team is thrown at them. Would the results vary if their foes changed? Most likely. But the point is teams have to be well-rounded and be prepared to play all manner of offenses and defenses.
Where the Broncos have been exposed at times and Peyton Manning’s health has occasionally hung over the team like a threatening storm cloud, the Chiefs were exposed in their inability to game plan for the obvious. To beat a team like the Broncos you have to be able to score. To beat a quarterback like Manning you have to get him off his game with pressure. They did neither.
In week thirteen the two teams will face again. The pressure will be on Andy Reid and the coaching staff to adapt and produce a game plan that might be out of their comfort zone, and their ability to do so will tell us all a lot about what kind of team the Chiefs will be come the Playoffs.
Photo: AP/Jack Dempsey