ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — If at first you don’t succeed in beating the Chiefs, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again.
Try No. 12.
The Denver Broncos' losing streak against the Chiefs is 11, a skid that started with their second meeting of 2015. The Broncos have nine wins against the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers since then and four wins against the Oakland/Las Vegas Raiders.
Zero in the past six years against the Chiefs.
It says here the Broncos best chance of breaking their Chiefs' skid is the final game of the season, Jan. 9, 2022 at Empower Field at Mile High. Why else did the NFL add a 17th game?
But the Broncos have some chance of ending their Chiefs skid this Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Maybe not a great chance as 9 ½-point underdogs, but a chance. They can pull off the upset before a primetime Sunday night audience as seen on 9News if they follow these 5 keys:
1. Play deep, let ‘em run
Opponents have started playing the Chiefs the same way – with two safeties stationed near the warning track as a way to defend against Patrick Mahomes II’s huge arm and receiver Tyreek Hill’s tremendous speed.
And so instead of scoring 35 points a game, as the Chiefs did in Mahomes’ first season as a starter in 2018; or 39 points a game, as the Chiefs did with Mahomes in three 2019 postseason games; or 29.6 points, as the Chiefs and Mahomes did last year; Kansas City and its magnificently talented quarterback have been forced to check down to 25.5 points a game this season.
The Vic Fangio defense – which by nature plays two safeties deep and more zone than most – needs to hold the Chiefs to 24 points in this game. That may mean allowing the Chiefs to run for 150 yards. But if the Chiefs are running that means Mahomes isn’t passing.
2. Big game for Bridgewater
Sure, rookie running back Javonte Williams can rush for 100 yards, especially if he doesn’t have to share with Melvin Gordon III, who is questionable to play with a hip injury. But this isn’t Woody Hayes and Cornelius Green the Broncos are playing. This game is against Andy Reid and Mahomes. Points will be needed. The big plays come through the passing game and Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will need three or four completions of 20 yards-plus if Denver is to keep up and/or catch up.
3. Throw early quickies to Courtland Sutton
There’s a way for the Broncos to get their top receiver involved without forcing it. Courtland Sutton just got No. 1 receiver-type money with a four-year, $60 million contract extension, but there are No. 3 receivers who have outproduced his past four combined game totals of 7 catches for 95 yards with no touchdowns.
A bubble screen and/or quick slant in the first series can get his confidence going and help establish a rhythm between him and Bridgewater for a later impact reception or three.
4. Stay calm amid the din
Arrowhead Stadium is one of the loudest venues in sports. And Chiefs Nation may be more raucous than usual as night games provide extra tailgate time. The trick is to find that focus where noise is deafening and the in-game heartbeat slows. In Steady Teddy, the Broncos may have the right quarterback for this environment. Especially if the Broncos get down by one or two scores in the first half.
5. Red zone
The Chiefs’ offense is only 16th in red zone touchdown efficiency at 59.5 percent. The Broncos are 26th at 54.1 percent.
On defense, the Broncos rank 10th, allowing touchdowns 54.2 percent of the time on opponents’ red zone possessions while the Chiefs’ defense is 23rd at 64.7 percent.
It says here both teams will be able to move the ball between the 20s. This game will be won on who plays better from the 19-yard line on in.
Broncos podcast: Klis' Mike Drop
Denver Broncos headlines, game previews and interviews with our 9NEWS insider Mike Klis.
HOW TO LISTEN
SUGGESTED VIDEOS: Sports
MORE WAYS TO GET 9NEWS
Subscribe to our daily 9NEWSLETTER
HOW TO ADD THE 9NEWS APP TO YOUR STREAMING DEVICE
ROKU: add the channel from the ROKU store or by searching for KUSA.
For both Apple TV and Fire TV, search for "9news" to find the free app to add to your account. Another option for Fire TV is to have the app delivered directly to your Fire TV through Amazon.