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Just when it seemed like the Kansas City Chiefs and QB Patrick Mahomes were back to their game-winning tricks (they had an 8-game win streak going into Week 17), Andy Reid’s playoff-bound team got beat by the Cincinnati Bengals, 34-31, a comeback win that puts Kansas City’s 26th ranked defense into the spotlight (again), a weak spot they best fix before the postseason.
The season is over for the 7-9 Denver Broncos, now in last place in the AFC West and eliminated from the playoffs, but the team does have something to play for (besides NFL pride), and that is to help HC Vic Fangio save his job now that his 19-28 record leading Denver could be beginning to cause some front office whispering, this franchise’s rebuild only just beginning.
These two AFC West rivals have faced each other 123 previous times (including 1 postseason game), with the Denver Broncos winning 55 of those games and the Kansas City Chiefs winning 68 of the games.
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At this point, due to a tiebreaker, right now the 11-5 Tennessee Titans would earn the AFC’s number one playoff seed and its home-field advantage and first-round bye, so the 11-5 KC Chiefs need to win here and hope that the Titans lose to the 4-12 Houston Texans.
The Chiefs’ defense can be a potential weak spot at times, ranked 26th in the league after allowing opponents to gain almost 370 yards and score over 21 points per game, tough numbers for Kansas City’s 3rd ranked offense to constantly outperform to earn wins.
For the Chiefs to have a shot at the number one playoff seed, its defense must step up and prove they are a playoff-worthy bunch, especially veterans like DEs Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram, whose effective pass rush needs to disrupt the Broncos passing attack the entire game.
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With over a dozen Broncos players now listed as being on the Reserve-Covid-19 this week including star LBs Bradley Chubb and Jonathon Cooper and WR Jerry Jeudy, this Denver team will have a tough time practicing and preparing for this game all week.
Even with new Covid protocols in place (including asymptomatic players who test positive now only having to isolate for five instead of ten days), there is no telling how many of those players will return and in what shape, the 7-9 Broncos already having little to play for except pride.
Another reason to show up and win is to help HC Vic Fangio save his job, his 19-28 record leading the Broncos could be starting to wear thin on the front office and on some Broncos fans, so a spoiler win against a divisional foe like the Chiefs would go a long way to help his cause.
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Despite the Chiefs’ defense being ranked in the bottom third of the league, there are plenty of bright spots on that side of the ball including veteran DE Frank Clark, a seven-year pro who is having a solid season on Kansas City’s defensive front line.
A second-round pick back in 2015 with the Seattle Seahawks, Clark has been in Kansas City since the 2019 season, the 6’ 3” 261 pound 28-year old still posting impressive numbers, this season with 4.5 sacks, 17 quarterback hits, 2 forced fumbles and 21 total tackles.
Watch for Clark to get at Broncos young QB Drew Lock (see below), Clark’s 53.5 career sacks and 118 total QB hits are proof that every opposing hurler should fear him and every offensive line he faces should double team and chip him, tactics that still might not be enough to stop him.
Now that Broncos starting QB Teddy Bridgewater (concussion) has been listed as inactive again, expect backup Drew Lock to fill in, a role he is comfortable playing since he has stepped in under center several times this season, enough to accrue an 0-2 record as the starter.
Lock has NFL QB size at 6’ 4” and 228 pounds, the Missouri alum now in his third NFL season and 8-12 overall as the now-and-again starter in Denver for the last three seasons, this year with 55 completions for 625 yards and 2 touchdowns with 2 interceptions in five games.
This matchup with the Chiefs gives Lock a chance to face a divisional rival that he must play twice a year now, so watch for him to take charge in front of his hometown fans at Mile High and further prove his worth as the franchise’s future quarterback.
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|Chiefs vs Broncos Information|
|What||Kansas City Chiefs vs Denver Broncos|
|Where||Empower Field at Mile High in Denver, CO|
|When||Saturday, January 8, 2022; 4:30 PM ET|
|How to watch||ESPN, ABC, ESPN+|
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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