The Broncos are on a two-game winning streak. Not only that, but the Chiefs defense looks vulnerable, Kansas City is on a short week, and Denver can turn their season around with a win. This is much of the narrative surrounding the Broncos-Chiefs matchup this Sunday.
This has also been the narrative before. Last season.
After starting 2019 with an 0-4 record, the Broncos won two straight games against the Chargers and Titans. The Broncos then had the Chiefs coming to Denver on a Thursday night.
What happened next was awful.
The Broncos got their doors blown off, losing 30-6 in a game that could have been much worse. The Chiefs defense sacked Joe Flacco nine times for total losses of 79 yards. To make the loss even more insulting, Patrick Mahomes was injured and the Chiefs played almost three quarters with back up Matt Moore.
The game was never close. The Broncos played like they did not belong on the same field as the Chiefs. Vic Fangio was soundly outcoached and outprepared by Andy Reid and Eric Bieniemy. Beating the Broncos on a short week without their MVP starting quarterback was no problem for the Chiefs.
Later in the season, the Broncos were once again on a two-game winning streak. This time, they were coming off a big win against the Texans and were riding high with rookie quarterback Drew Lock.
The result was the same. The Broncos were destroyed 23-3 in a game that might as well have been 100-3 because the Chiefs lead was never threatened. It was the lone loss of Drew Lock’s rookie campaign.
It’s now 2020 and the Broncos are once again on a two-game winning streak heading into a game with the division rival Chiefs. The Broncos are coming off a big road win against the Patriots and looking to establish themselves as a team that could make a playoff push in the second half of the season.
In his postseason press conference last year, John Elway continually referenced the Chiefs. The Broncos draft and free agency moves were clearly made with the Chiefs in mind. The Broncos know if they can’t compete with Kansas City, they can’t compete for the playoffs.
Having won nine straight against the Broncos, the Chiefs have no fear walking into this game. It’s up to the Broncos to gain the Chiefs respect.
For the Broncos to make the game competitive and give themselves a chance to win, the coaching staff must improve. Believe it or not, Vic Fangio’s Broncos performed much worse against the Chiefs than Vance Joseph’s Broncos.
Vic Fangio must prove he can counter punch Andy Reid.
To their credit, the last two games, the Broncos have played their best football under Fangio. The defensive play calling has been aggressive, and we’ve started to see the defense make game-changing plays. The pressures, sacks and turnovers have all played pivotal roles in the Broncos two-game winning streak.
The offense, while not flashy, has been much improved. During the two-game winning streak, the offense has converted first downs, sustained long drives and scored with more regularity than we’ve seen since 2014. Extending drives will be key for the Broncos to have success as it keeps the Chiefs high-powered offense off the field.
Fangio has shown maturity as a head coach. He changed the way he was calling the defense. It’s always a good sign when a coach isn’t too stubborn when it comes to their “system.”
John Fox and Mike McCoy threw out the whole playbook for Tim Tebow and to this day receive praise for it. It’s nice to see Fangio adapting in his second season.
While it got uncomfortable in the fourth quarter against the Patriots, the Broncos held on. The defense came up big. Fangio seems to be turning a corner as a head coach. The postgame video from the locker room after the New England win showed a team that is starting to believe in themselves.
Fangio can’t lose his momentum by suffering another blowout loss against Reid.
I’m not big on moral victories and I’m not looking for one against the Chiefs. However, this weekend the Broncos need to play the Chiefs tough. They can’t have it go like it did twice last year.
The 2020 Broncos look much better than they did in 2019. We won’t know how much they’ve improved until they take the fight to the defending Super Bowl champs.
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