ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Through the first five games of the season, the Kansas City Chiefs were unbeatable. Sitting at 5-0 as the last undefeated team in the NFL, it appeared as if they would enter their Week 8 contest against the Denver Broncos a perfect 7-0.
The past two weeks, however, have been a different story. Thanks to the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders, the book is out on how to beat Kansas City.
At 5-2, currently riding a two-game losing streak, the Chiefs sit atop the AFC West, 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Broncos. If Denver wants to cut that lead to half a game, they’ll have to come out of Arrowhead Stadium with a victory on Monday night. Here are five magic numbers that’ll help the Broncos pull the upset over the Chiefs on primetime.
The Chiefs’ defense isn’t shy about giving up yards to opposing offenses. In fact, they’ve given up the fourth-most yards per game in the entire NFL. However, the key to beating them is by really stacking up the yards on their defense.
In Kansas City’s five wins, they’ve allowed an average of 366 yards of offense—which alone still would rank in the bottom 25 percent of the league. In their two losses, however, they’ve given up an average of 472 yards of offense, including 439 yards against the Steelers and 505 against the Raiders.
The most the Chiefs have given up in a victory was 406 yards. Anything over that has proven to be too tall of a task for their offense to overcome.
To put this in perspective, the most the Broncos’ defense has given up this year is 272 yards. The formula to beating the Chiefs isn’t just about putting up yards, it’s about putting up a lot of yards.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Chiefs put up very similar numbers to what their defense allows, however, for the offense, it’s impressive. Through the first seven weeks of the season, Kansas City averaged the third-most offensive yards in the league (392.4 per game), but their success as a team purely relies on their rushing attack.
In the Chiefs’ five wins, they’ve averaged 156.2 rushing yards per game with their lowest output of 112. However, in their two losses, they’ve only had 28 and 94 rushing yards, for an average of 61.
Beating the Chiefs is easily said, but difficult to do: hold rookie sensation Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs’ rushing attack to under 94 yards on the ground.
“He’s a special back,” Broncos’ head coach Vance Joseph said in the week leading up to the first matchup against the Chiefs. “The last two weeks haven’t been great for him, but that’s why they’ve lost. That’s their formula is to run the football and control the game.”
The Chiefs have mastered the art of the blowout. In their five wins, they have an average margin of victory of 10.6 with all of their wins coming by seven or more points.
However, when games have come down to the wire, the Chiefs haven’t found ways to pull it off. In their two losses, they’ve lost by six and one, to the Steelers and Raiders respectively.
The key for the Broncos will be to keep the game under a touchdown. Recent history says the Chiefs won’t be able to find a way to hold on if the game stays close.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Chiefs’ success can be traced back to Hunt. On the defensive side of the ball, Kansas City’s success can be traced back to sack-master Justin Houston.
In the Chiefs’ five wins, Houston has at least one sack in four of the games, averaging 1.1 sacks in that time period. In their two losses, however, Houston doesn’t have a single sack.
The Broncos’ have had problems containing elite pass rushers this season, and if they want to come away with a victory over the Chiefs, they’ll need to give extra attention to No. 50 to keep him away from Trevor Siemian.
In Kansas City’s five wins, their defense forced seven turnovers—an average of 1.4 per game. In their two losses, however, they’ve averaged nearly one less turnover per game, only having forced one turnover in the two games.