Even though the Chiefs don’t play Denver for more than a month, it’s still not too early to start talking about the Nov. 17 and Dec. 1 games between the only two unbeaten teams left standing in the NFL.
During a teleconference promoting NBC’s telecast of Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis this Sunday night, I asked network analysts Tony Dungy, Cris Collinsworth and Rodney Harrison to peek ahead to the Broncos-Chiefs matchups.
And boy, was I surprised to hear how high Dungy and Collinsworth were about the Chiefs’ chances.
“I’m anxious to see (the Chiefs) play Denver, because they have the perfect formula,” Dungy said. “They can run the ball, they’re patient on offense, and defensively they can get pressure without going to maximum blitzes. They will give Denver all they can handle. I love that defense. They’ve got speed and athleticism and speed at every part of the defense.
“Kansas City has kind of snuck up on everybody, but they have had some great defensive players. The problem in the past was the offense was turning it over so much, they were never ahead in games. Now, you’re getting to see what this defense can do The pass rush, in Arrowhead, with the noise, when you get ahead, if you have to throw, and the tackles can’t hear the snap count, you’ve got to go on a silent count, there are a lot of things that go in your favor.”
As Collinsworth watched the Chiefs roll up 10 sacks against Oakland last Sunday, one word came to mind.
“I kept saying, ‘Wow,’” Collinsworth said.
“A team that is going to beat Peyton Manning is going to be a team that is going to be able to hit him. If you can’t hit him, you’re not going to beat him.
“If there is any team looking down the road you think may hit him a little bit, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs, the way they come after the quarterback. That’s the matchup. I don’t think it’s as much a shoo-in that Denver is going to knock them off because of Kansas City’s lack of offense, because of the way they’re going to be able to hit Peyton, or I think they will.”
Harrison has a couple of reservations about the Chiefs going up against Denver.
“This is a team that is young and having a lot of success early, but how do they respond when they face adversity?” Harrison said. “Alex Smith has been a game manager. Can this team score enough points if their defense has a bad day?
“They haven’t played anyone with a winning record I don’t know how good they are until they play a really good team like the Broncos. Do they match up? Yes, on paper. But I don’t know about leadership or young players overcoming adversity. I have to watch that game to see how those players overcome adversity when they face Peyton Manning.”