Broncos (4-11) at Chiefs (12-3)
When: 11 a.m. MT, Sunday
Where: Arrowhead Stadium
Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/KCNC-4
Broncos-Chiefs series: Broncos are 54-70 in 124 regular-season games dating back to 1970; the Broncos lost 34-28 in the last meeting, on Dec. 11, 2022, in Denver.
Jerry Rosburg vs. Andy Reid
After firing Nathaniel Hackett on Monday, the Broncos named Jerry Rosburg the interim head coach. Rosburg wasn’t even with the team when the season began as he came aboard as a senior assistant in Week 3 following a series of game-management miscues.
Reid, meanwhile, is the fifth-longest tenured coach in the NFL and once again has the Chiefs peaking as the playoffs approach.
So even when considering Rosburg’s lengthy resume in Baltimore (where he served as associate head coach to John Harbaugh) and beyond, there is a clear gulf between the two men’s experience running the show on game day.
For the Broncos to have any chance at an upset, Rosburg has to out-scheme Reid. Tough task. For his part, Reid says he isn’t sleeping on the Broncos, even in light of the coaching change and Denver’s seven-year losing streak in the divisional series.
“The fact that there could be some changes that take place offensively, defensively, special teams — there’s always that chance that there’s sudden change that’s going to take place (in the game plan),” Reid told Kansas City reporters. “So you’ve just got to be aware of anything and everything.”
Reid said the Broncos “have our attention from our last game” after Denver rallied from a 27-0 deficit to nearly complete the largest comeback in franchise history.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re on our A game,” Reid said. “Whatever they did with Hackett or didn’t do with Hackett, I mean they had our attention. We know we’ve got to be ready.”
Who has the edge?
Russell Wilson has played like a diminished quarterback in his first year in Denver, including throwing three interceptions in last week’s blowout loss to the Rams. Patrick Mahomes, meanwhile, is an elite QB and MVP favorite who is the centerpiece of the league’s best offense. Edge: Chiefs
Latavius Murray ran for 130 yards two weeks ago, but the Broncos’ ground game ground to a halt against the Rams. Denver has generated little-to-no explosiveness rushing the ball. The Chiefs feature rookie running back Isiah Pacheco (735 yards). Edge: Chiefs
Jerry Jeudy’s been Denver’s only reliable receiver lately; Courtland Sutton had five catches for 64 yards last week in his return from a hamstring injury. KC’s Travis Kelce might be the best tight end of all time. JuJu Smith-Schuster is Mahomes’ other top target. Edge: Chiefs
The Broncos can’t protect, as they’ve given up 19 sacks for 130 yards over the past three games, in addition to their issues establishing the run. The Chiefs feature a solid interior core of left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith. Edge: Chiefs
With Dre’Mont Jones out for the year, the Broncos need Mike Purcell, D.J. Jones and DeShawn Williams to play better against the run. The Chiefs have a pair of game-wreckers in Chris Jones and Frank Clark, while rookie George Karlaftis is also playing well. Edge: Chiefs
Josey Jewell and Alex Singleton continue to be consistent at inside linebacker. But the edge rush has dried up, including zero sacks of Baker Mayfield last week. Randy Gregory needs to get his swag back. Nick Bolton leads the Chiefs with 154 total tackles. Edge: Even
After picking off Mahomes three times a few weeks ago, including one by Pat Surtain II, Justin Simmons and the Broncos secondary should feel confident. Cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed and Trent McDuffie have been susceptible to giving up the big play. Edge: Broncos
The Broncos fired special teams coordinator Dwayne Stukes after firing head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Brandon McManus (26 of 34 on field goals) hasn’t had his best year. Neither has KC’s Harrison Butker (17 of 22 on field goals). Edge: Chiefs
Tale of the tape
|Total offense||316.6 (25th)||420.6 (1st)|
|Rush offense||107.5 (23rd)||117.1 (17th)|
|Pass offense||209.1 (20th)||303.5 (1st)|
|Points per game||15.5 (32nd)||29.2 (2nd)|
|Total defense||314.3 (5th)||332.9 (15th)|
|Run defense||117.4 (16th)||107.1 (8th)|
|Pass defense||196.9 (6th)||225.7 (20th)|
|Points allowed||20.3 (T-7th)||22.1 (16th)|
* Through Week 16
By the numbers
14: Kansas City’s win streak over the Broncos, dating back to Nov. 15, 2015.
1: The number of carries for 40-plus yards by a Denver running back this year, Latavius Murray’s 52-yard scamper in Week 12 in Carolina.
4: Rushes of 20-plus yards for the Broncos this year, which ranks next-to-last in the NFL.
57: Amount of sacks allowed by the Broncos this year, which ranks last in the NFL.
4,720: Passing yards for Patrick Mahomes this year, which ranks first in the NFL and has No. 15 on pace to break his career high of 4,839 yards set last year.
Line: Kansas City -13.5
The Chiefs opened as 12.5-point favorites; the line shifted more after Hackett’s firing. Expect KC to blow Denver’s doors off and cover.
Prop bet: Over/under 44 points
After letting up on the gas a few weeks ago in the second half, don’t count on the Chiefs to do that again; KC will sniff 40 points by itself.
Mark Kiszla, columnist: Chiefs 31, Broncos 17
I’d like to believe the firing of Nathaniel Hackett could send a big enough shock wave through the Denver locker room to fire up the Broncos against a division rival. But every time I try to take a glass half-full approach to this team, I get half a glass of bourbon on the rocks thrown back in my face. Make it 15 losses in a row to the Chiefs. And counting.
Kyle Newman, beat writer: Chiefs 38, Broncos 14
Jerry Rosburg is about to get a rude introduction by Kansas City in his debut as Denver’s interim head coach. Russell Wilson throws at least two more picks, proving that the problem wasn’t necessarily Nathaniel Hackett. And the gassed, worn-out Denver defense is no match for the juggernaut K.C. offense that’s caught fire in December.
Parker Gabriel, beat writer: Chiefs 34, Broncos 13
This has all the makings of a blowout. Not only are the Chiefs the superior team across the board, but they need to win to stay in position to potentially get the AFC’s top seed. Not only that, but they watched just three weeks ago as a 27-point lead against the Broncos dwindled quickly and nearly evaporated. Kansas City hasn’t been unbeatable this year and the defense has struggled at times, but they’ve got all the motivation in the world to start fast and keep the accelerator to the floor.