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The Denver Broncos’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread in the defence of their Super Bowl crown. Gary Kubiak’s men need to win their final two matches of the campaign, starting on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs to have any chance of securing a post-season berth.
Andy Reid’s side pose a tough task as they defeated the Broncos at Sports Authority Field in their clash earlier this term in overtime thanks to a Cairo Santos field goal. The Chiefs remain in a fierce battle with the Oakland Raiders for the AFC West title, and will be determined to secure a first-round bye and a home match in the divisional round of the playoffs.
The contest will be huge for both sides, with neither willing to budge an inch. It should be a fascinating festive game to conclude the round of matches on Christmas Day.
Denver were beaten badly by the New England Patriots last week, with their offense failing to score a touchdown against Bill Belichick’s men, despite holding Tom Brady and company to just 16 points. The pressure is on Kubiak and quarterback Trevor Siemian to raise the level of the club’s form, but will face a tough task against the Chiefs, who always play hard against their rivals.
Kansas City need a response from their surprise defeat to the Tennessee Titans last week. The loss confirmed that the club cannot secure the number one seed, but they are still in the mix for a first-round bye, needing a victory against the Broncos to overhaul their rivals the Raiders at the top of the AFC West.
These games are always close with the Chiefs overcoming a fourth-quarter deficit in their last meeting to secure the win. The Broncos are in desperate need of a victory, but they won’t have the offensive firepower to see off Reid’s men at Arrowhead Stadium. Backing Kansas City at -190 with TopBet sportsbook would make sense given Denver’s recent struggles.
The Broncos made a habit of winning tight games last term on their way to clinching the Vince Lombardi trophy, but this year has been a stark contrast as their offense has failed to deliver in clutch situations. Siemian has come under constant pressure from opposing defenses due to the struggles of his offensive line, which saw the Patriots limit Kubiak’s men to just three points in their defeat at Sports Authority Field.
There were reports of ructions in the Denver locker room between the defensive and offensive players and if that translates itself onto the field then the Broncos can forget about continuing the defence of their Super Bowl crown into January. Their passing defense has been outstanding this season and they limited Brady to just 180 yards last week as the Patriots quarterback turned in his worst statistical performance of the term.
Run defense has been an issue all season for the Broncos, and the Chiefs will test their ability to hold up due to the quality of Spencer Ware and Tyreek Hill. Should they fail to stop Ware from racking up the yards then the Chiefs will be able to control the game with ease like the Patriots and the Tennessee Titans did before them in Denver’s back-to-back defeats.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos need to rediscover how to run the ball as their attempts in recent weeks have been woeful. Devontae Booker has struggled to match the production of the injured CJ Anderson, while Justin Forsett appears to be on his last legs. However, the club need to do something to ease the pressure on Siemian and the passing game to attain victory over the Chiefs.
The Chiefs have been renowned in recent seasons for beating difficult to beat on home soil, but for the second time in three matches at Arrowhead Stadium they failed to perform against inferior opposition. Tennessee rallied from a 14-3 first-quarter deficit to triumph over Reid’s men courtesy of a last-second field goal from Ryan Succop, denting Kansas City’s hopes of securing a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Alex Smith’s offense stuttered in the second half in the frigid conditions against a mediocre defense, which will not inspire many Chiefs supporters with confidence heading into the clash against the vaunted Broncos’ unit. However, they always seem to find a way of putting points on the board in their matches with Denver, including their last drive to tie the game earlier in the campaign with Hill scoring a touchdown with 10 seconds remaining in the contest. Finding their form once again will be a major confidence boost ahead of the post-season, although nothing is secure yet for the club, making a victory imperative on Sunday night.
Defensively, Kansas City have been solid, although they will not have been content to give up a fourth-quarter touchdown and field goal to the Titans which resulted in their defeat last week. Justin Houston’s health remains a concern, but there is still more than enough talent available for Reid and his coaching staff to stifle the Denver offense on home soil. Pro Bowlers Eric Berry and Marcus Peters will be key in limiting the threat of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who are likely to be two of the few issues that the Broncos can pose at Arrowhead.
The Chiefs will head into this match with a narrow advantage, although the Broncos have the ability to produce a performance out of nowhere.
Should Siemian produce a quality display as he did in the past meeting between the teams, and his side’s defense is able to limit Smith and company then it might be enough to shock the home outfit.
However, the odds are stacked in Kansas City’s favour and they will have more than enough to secure the victory to take them into the post-season.
Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Denver Broncos
Sunday 25th December 20:30 ET (Monday 26th December 1:30 GMT)
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