For Pete's Sake

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

The Chiefs won’t have long to dwell on Sunday’s loss to the Texans, and that might be a good thing.

This week is the Chiefs’ turn to play on Thursday night and they’ll travel to Denver to face their AFC West rival. The Broncos are coming off a 16-0 win over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Each week I take an early look at the Chiefs’ next opponent, and here are five things to know about the Broncos, 2-4, ahead of Thursday’s game, which kicks off at 7:25 p.m. and will be broadcast on Fox (Ch. 4) and the NFL Network:

1. The rushing attack

Given the way opponents have gashed the Chiefs on the ground, the first question might be about the top back for the Broncos.

It’s Phillip Lindsay, who has run for 397 yards in 84 attempts (4.7 yards per carry) with four touchdowns. He also has 19 catches for 147 yards. This was Lindsay’s touchdown run on Sunday:

His backup is Royce Freeman, who has 284 yards in 66 attempts (4.3 yards per attempt).

The Broncos rank 15th in the NFL in rushing overall, averaging 116 yards per game. Three of the top five teams in rushing are the Ravens (first), Colts (fourth) and Texans (fifth).

2. Joe Flacco

The Broncos have scored 16 or fewer points in four of their games this season and their highest-scoring game of the season came in a 26-24 loss to the Jaguars.

Flacco, the former Ravens quarterback, has thrown an interception in five straight games and has six touchdown throws on the season.

He has completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 1,435 yards. In his last two games, both Broncos’ victories, Flacco has thrown for fewer than 200 yards.

3. Receiving corps

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders left Sunday’s game because of a knee injury and afterward coach Vic Fangio told reporters he wasn’t sure of the severity of the injury. However, Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported Monday that Denver is optimistic Sanders will play against the Chiefs.

Sanders has 25 receptions for 307 yards (12.3 yards per catch) and two touchdowns this season.

Cortland Sutton has been Flacco’s top target, catching 30 passes for 477 yards (15.9 yards per catch) and three touchdowns. Sutton made a nice catch Sunday on this pass:

4. Defensive numbers

Denver’s shutout Sunday was its first since 2017. Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic noted the Broncos’ defense allowed an average of 149 rushing yards and 11 total touchdowns in Denver’s first four games. In the last two games, opponents don’t have a touchdown and have just 74 total rushing yards (wins over the Chargers and Titans).

The Broncos entered Sunday’s game with five total sacks, but they had seven against the Titans on Sunday. Their pass rush coming into the game had been good at getting at a quarterback without sending an extra rusher:

5. Special teams

Denver’s Brandon McManus has made 12 of 14 field-goal attempts and his only two misses are from 50 yards or farther. He is 1 of 3 on kicks of 50-plus yards.

The Broncos are one of the NFL’s best teams when it comes to kickoff returns. They are second with an average of 32.3 yards per return, but it’s come on just four returns. Devontae Booker and Diontae Spencer have shared the returns this season.

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