In the aftermath of the Chiefs’ season-opening win over Houston on Sunday, coach Andy Reid was asked about the challenge of preparing for their looming Thursday night showdown against the Broncos on a short week.
“As soon as we get out of this press conference, we’ll get rolling,” Reid said. “It’s important how we handle it as coaches, it’s important how we handle it as players. When given an opportunity to rest, you rest. Get off your feet and take care of business. Bumps and bruises, you take care of those. We’ve got to get ready.”
The last time the Chiefs played on a Thursday night, they were upset by the previously winless Raiders on the road last November.
But the Chiefs should have no problem getting pumped up for four-time defending AFC West champion Denver, a team the Chiefs have gone 0-6 against since quarterback Peyton Manning became a Bronco in 2012.
Reid said the process for preparing for Denver didn’t start Sunday evening. The schedule came out in April, which means the Chiefs have long known they’d have less time than normal to prepare for this crucial division matchup, and they reacted accordingly.
“We do a study in the offseason on our in-season opponents and particularly (the ones in) the AFC West, so we’ll dedicate a day during our offseason program for each team,” Reid said.
Reid added his staff also kept tabs on the Broncos during the preseason, and picked up the pregame scouting a notch late last week.
“Some of the guys got busy with it later in the week on Friday and Saturday when things calmed down a little bit,” Reid said. “I told you before, (this is) a little bit like being a farmer — the work’s never done.”
The extra preparation should help, too, particularly on offense. The Chiefs jumped out to a 27-6 first-half lead against Houston, as spreading the ball around to a variety of players to keep the Texans off balance. But they didn’t score after halftime.
Houston’s defensive pressure was an issue — J.J. Watt finished with nine tackles and two sacks — and the Chiefs will get no respite this week from the Broncos, who feature two established star edge rushers in Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware and two promising youngsters in Shaq Barrett and former Mizzou star Shane Ray.
“J.J. Watt’s a tremendous pass rusher, and you saw that in the game yesterday … it definitely prepares our guys for what we’re going to see this week,” offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said. “We’re going to see two of the premier, elite pass rushers in the National Football League. It doesn’t get any easier.”
Ware and Miller combined for eight quarterback hits and the Broncos finished with two sacks in a 19-13 season-opening win over the Ravens, the first game for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in Denver.
“Last time we saw him was in 2013 with the Texans, so you’ve got to do a little film study,” Pederson said of Phillips. “Wade has been blessed with having a lot of talent on defense, and one thing he does is, he kind of keeps it simple for them.
“There’s not a ton of pressure like we saw from Houston this past week. He loves his man coverage, and maybe sprinkles in some zone … we’re going to see a five-man rush, single-safety middle (or) Cover 1, and on a short week, they’re in the same situation (we are) where you want to keep (the gameplan) small, you want to keep it simple and let’s go play.”
After a solid road win to open the season, the Chiefs should have plenty of momentum as they diligently prepare for their spotlight showdown against their division rivals.
“I’m more fired up for the fans,” Reid said. “You’re talking about Red Thursday, inviting an AFC West opponent in here … but you’re asking me about this today, so you don’t get too caught up in it today (because) you’ve got to get busy here and make sure you prepare. You’ll feel the energy once you get in that stadium.”
Broncos at Chiefs
WHEN: 7:25 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Arrowhead Stadium
TV: CBS (Ch. 5) and NFL Network