DENVER — Following a two-point win over the Green Bay Packers in Week 7, the Broncos will aim to keep their momentum going in a divisional showdown against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Just two weeks ago, the Broncos battled the Chiefs in a “Thursday Night Football” matchup, and they trailed by just one possession in the late stages of the fourth quarter. Though the Broncos were unable to earn a win and snap a now 16-game streak to their division foe, they took strides on defense and showed second-half offensive improvement.
At home, the Broncos will look to turn that potential into results. With a win, the Broncos would climb to 3-5 as they head into the bye and earn wins in back-to-back weeks for the first time since Weeks 2 and 3 of the 2022 season.
“It matters to go out for the season, number one, to win this game,” quarterback Russell Wilson said this week. “We obviously won last week — we want to keep the momentum. That matters a lot — momentum, that feeling of winning in the locker room. There’s nothing better.”
Though the Broncos would still face an uphill climb to re-enter postseason contention, a win against Kansas City would prove their ability to play with any team in the league.
“[Pro Football Hall of Fame Head Coach] Bill [Parcells] used to always say, ‘Hey, it gives you a chance to know where you stack up,'” Head Coach Sean Payton said Friday. “I think when you get up in class with a team like this, you find out.“
As Denver looks for a second consecutive home win, here’s a look at a question for the Broncos to answer, a matchup to watch and a stat to know.
Can the Broncos’ offense capitalize on its red-zone chances?
If Denver is to earn its first win over Kansas City since 2015, the Broncos will need to make the most of their opportunities. With a potent offense on the other side, that means the Broncos will need to find ways to score touchdowns in the red zone rather than settle for field goals. In their last two home games, the Broncos are a combined 3-of-8 in the red zone, including a 1-of-4 performance last week. Settling for field goals allowed the Packers to hang around, and Denver needed a late rally to earn its first home win of the season.
Against the Chiefs in Week 6, the Broncos converted on their only red-zone opportunity but will look for more chances on Sunday. Though Denver scored just a single touchdown, the Broncos posted a 47-yard third-quarter drive that looked promising before a batted pass resulted in an interception. After a first half that included a turnover on downs, an interception and four punts, the Broncos’ ability to move the ball a bit in the second half offered a more positive outlook for Week 8.
As tackle Mike McGlinchey said this week, though, it’s hard to tell just how much the first meeting of the season will impact the rematch.
“It was a short week, and I don’t know if anybody was at their full [game plan] on a Thursday night,” McGlinchey said. “Obviously [we] have more time to absorb the game plan. … I think it will be a great battle. I really don’t think much of what happened Thursday night’s going to have an effect on this weekend.
“It’s going to be a new battle. You’ve got to win your matchups, and that’s all it comes down to.”
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Justin Simmons vs. Patrick Mahomes
The Broncos’ All-Pro safety recorded his first interception of the season and his fourth career pick off Patrick Mahomes in the teams’ first meeting of the season. In that matchup, Simmons and the Broncos’ defense held Kansas City to 1-of-5 in the red zone and allowed just three plays of 20 or more yards. Perhaps more importantly, the Broncos did not allow any long scores and forced the Chiefs to work for their points. For comparison’s sake, the Chiefs recorded six plays of at least 20 yards and two plays of at least 45 yards in a Week 7 win over the Chargers. Among the Chiefs’ big plays was a 46-yard touchdown pass from Mahomes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling. If the Broncos are to earn a win over the Chiefs, Simmons and a Denver secondary that will be without Kareem Jackson will need to limit Kansas City’s big-play ability and then buckle down in the red zone. Another interception from Simmons wouldn’t hurt, either.