For Pete's Sake

Five things to know about Chiefs’ next opponent: the Denver Broncos

Breaking down the Chiefs' 2017 schedule, week by week

Terez Paylor, the Kansas City Chiefs beat writer for The Star, gives his insights on the 16-game schedule, which was released by the NFL on Thursday, April 20.
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Terez Paylor, the Kansas City Chiefs beat writer for The Star, gives his insights on the 16-game schedule, which was released by the NFL on Thursday, April 20.

Two weeks ago, the Chiefs and Broncos had a combined record of 8-1. Since then, they are 0-4.

Both teams are carrying two-game losing streaks into the Halloween eve contest at Arrowhead Stadium next week, and the most recent loss for each team was to a division rival. So that will just add a bit more intensity to an already big rivalry.

On top of that, you can bet that Arrowhead will be rocking, because it is a “Monday Night Football” contest.

During the season, I’ll provide a quick overview of the next Chiefs’ opponent early in each week, and here are a few things to know about the Broncos, who have a 3-3 record heading into the game.

1. Struggling offense

The Broncos are 24th in the NFL in points per game (18.0), and they have scored just three touchdowns in their last four games. On Sunday, Denver lost 21-0 to the Chargers in Los Angeles as the Broncos were shut out for the first time since 1992 when Tommy Maddox was the quarterback.

Denver has 12 turnovers in six games and their negative-8 differential is ahead of only the Bengals, Panthers and Browns. On Sunday, the Broncos were three of 14 on third downs and didn’t score on their only trip to the red zone.

In their last four games, the Broncos are a miserable two for 12 in the red zone.

2. Brock Osweiler?

A Denver Post poll asked readers who they would want to see the Broncos start at quarterback against the Chiefs. The runaway leader is Brock Osweiler at 59.6 percent of the vote. Paxton Lynch was second (23.1 percent), followed by Trevor Siemian (17.3 percent).

It’s worth noting that Lynch has been out all season because of a shoulder injury.

Siemian has been the starter for all six games. He has completed 133 of 211 passes (63 percent) for 1,471 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. In Denver’s last four games, Siemian has two touchdown passes and four interceptions.

It’s also worth noting that on Sunday, Denver was without receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Isaiah McKenzie, who were nursing ankle injuries. Broncos right tackle Menelik Watson and backup Donald Stephenson, both were out of Sunday’s game (calf injuries).

3. No. 1 defense

While the offense has struggled, Denver’s defense has done very well.

The Broncos have the top-ranked defense in the NFL in total yards. They are allowing 258.5 yards per game, and just 71.8 yards per game on the ground, which ranks second.

Linebacker Brandon Marshall is leading Denver with 42 tackles and one sack. Fellow linebacker Von Miller’s seven sacks are ranked seventh in the NFL.

4. Not so special teams

Denver punter Riley Dixon has struggled in his first season since replacing Britton Colquitt. Dixon is 19th in punting average (45.0) and 29th in the all-important net average (39.2).

This ball wasn’t a particularly well-struck and the Chargers’ Travis Benjamin returned it 65 yards for a touchdown in Sunday’s game:

Kicker Brandon McManus has made just eight of 13 field-goal attempts, including one block. However, he hasn’t missed an extra-point attempt this season (12 of 12).

However, Denver has been successful on returns. The Broncos are second in kickoff return average (29.3 yards) and 11th in punt return average (10.0 yards).

5. Jamaal Charles

If you’ve closely followed how former Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles has performed this season, you know that he hasn’t had a heavy workload after returning from surgery on both knees in November.

Charles has rushed for 196 yards in 42 attempts with one touchdown. On Sunday, he carried the ball four times for just 2 yards. Charles also has eight receptions for 43 yards on the season.

Expect to see more stories on Charles this week as he plays his first game back at Arrowhead Stadium.

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff