SAN DIEGO — Even if we ignore Peyton Mannings injury and assume the best health for the NFLs best quarterback, there is a lot for Chiefs fans to be encouraged about from the Broncos 28-20 win over the Chargers here.
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star
Well get more into the matchup with the Chiefs in a column that hopefully will post later tonight, but for now, lets point out some important differences from what we saw here and what well see next week in Denver.
Were going to focus on Denvers offense and the Chargers defense, because the part of the game next week everyone wants to see is Peyton Manning against Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali.
The Chargers, frankly, are not good on defense. Only three teams are giving up more yards. Only one is forcing fewer turnovers. The Chargers entered the day giving up 4.9 yards per rush and 7.4 yards per pass, both numbers among the leagues worst.
Like I mentioned in the column, this was actually Denvers worst offensive game of the year. But I think this had more to do with Denver going vanilla the week before a big showdown and John Fox not being around the team than anything the Chargers were doing.
Like, first of all, San Diego just isnt equipped to run the kind of high-pressure defense the Chiefs are riding to 9-0. Specifically, they dont have the cornerbacks to run a lot of press coverage, which I think is a major key against Denver. Also, the Chargers dont have edge pass rushers like Hali and Houston to take advantage of the Broncos playing a backup left tackle and limping right tackle. Getting pressure on Manning is critical, because like we talked about in the Insta-reaction, his passes suffer when theres pressure coming.
The Chargers are also very different than the Chiefs on offense, mostly because their quarterback is a bit of a statue with a canon arm and constant flirtation with danger, while Alex Smith is a very good athlete who doesnt throw deep much and is obsessed with ball control.
But one thing the Chargers did that I expect the Chiefs to try to emulate is a ball hogging offense that had possession for more than 38 minutes. Some of this is that Denver can score so freaking fast, but its always a good idea to keep Manning off the field, limit his shots, and wear out Denvers defense if possible.
Anyway, well talk more about how the Chiefs can beat the Broncos in the column later today.
But for now: what happened here is a little encouraging for the Chiefs, but potentially misleading because of how different they are from the Chargers.