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Keys for the Chiefs to beat the Broncos tonight

  • The Kansas City Star
  • Published Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, at 1:24 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Nov. 18, 2013, at 2:26 p.m.

On offense:

- Control the ball. The Chiefs are among the NFL’s five best teams in time of possession, and that’s going to be especially important against Denver. The Chargers held the Broncos to their lowest total in points and yards last weekend, and they didn’t do it with good defense. They did it by holding onto the ball for more than 38 minutes, and limiting Peyton Manning’s snaps.

- No turnovers. Or, at least, not many turnovers and certainly no turnovers that the Broncos’ defense turns into points. The Broncos are pacing to be the highest scoring team in NFL history. You don’t need to give that offense a head start.

- Alex Smith. He probably needs to play his best game of the season. Some of that means that Dexter McCluster can’t drop a pass like he did in Buffalo, and some of it means that Eric Fisher has to prove (against Von Miller) that what he did in Buffalo is real progress. But a lot of it, too, means that Smith has to continue to make good decisions with the ball while cleaning up the bits of inaccuracy he’s had throughout most of the season.

On defense:

- Pressure Peyton Manning. This one is pretty obvious, and important enough that if there’s only one key to the game, this is it. The Broncos didn’t score after the first sack against Manning on Sunday, and his throws can float and turn into opportunities for the defense. They have to pressure him, hit him, sack him.

- Jam the receivers. Everything the Broncos do is based on timing and pre-snap anticipation. If Marcus Cooper and Sean Smith — one of the most physical pairings of cornerbacks in the NFL — can disrupt that, it screws with what Manning wants to do with the ball and gives Houston/Hali/Poe/Etc. a little more time to get to him.

- Change the game. For all the strengths of the Broncos’ offense — and they are significant — they can be a bit reckless with the ball. They’re among the top five in fumbles, and in the bottom 10 in turnover percentage. I went over a lot of this stuff here. The Chiefs need to take advantage of that, turn the Broncos over, preferably turning it into points.

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