What to watch for in Chiefs vs. Broncos - KCTV5

What to watch for in Chiefs vs. Broncos

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(KCTV) (KCTV)
KANSAS CITY, MO (FOOTBALLKC) -

After a loss at home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Kansas City Chiefs set their sights on the Denver Broncos in a crucial AFC West matchup.

The Chiefs will need to play much better than they have over the past three games if they want to keep pace in the division with 7-3 Denver and 8-2 Oakland.

The most important keys for Kansas City to be successful are to win the turnover battle, improve third down conversion rates, score touchdowns in the red zone, establish the run and start the game strong.

Importance of Third Down Success

The failure to have any success on third down almost cost Kansas City the Jacksonville game and did prove fatal in the loss against Tampa Bay.

Over the past three weeks the defense has allowed 22 of 43 conversions on third down, a 51% success rate, which is 12% higher than the league average. On the season, the Kansas City defense ranks 30th in the NFL on third down.

On offense, the Chiefs are just 7-34 over the same three weeks and rank 25th in the NFL on third down conversions.

The stingy Denver defense ranks ninth in the NFL with conversions only 38% of the time, but the Bronco offense is currently below average with the 18th best conversion rate.

Long drives with third down success give a banged up KC defense more time to rest, which could pay big dividends if the game comes down to the wire.

Importance of Starting Strong

Head coach Andy Reid has win streaks of five, nine and 11 games since joining the Chiefs. Once his team finds a groove, they can really dig in. The same can be said in each game, as Reid’s teams are 107-34 in his career when his team scores first.

This has not been a strong point for the Chiefs this season, as they have totaled only nine opening drive points in the first 10 games.

The defense hasn’t been terrible on opening drives, allowing three touchdowns and one field goal through 10 games. However, the Chiefs offense is not built to come back from big deficits and starting in a hole against the Denver defense is not the start Reid needs.

Importance of Red Zone Success

The Chiefs have been terrible in the red zone this season, especially in the past three weeks, converting touchdowns on just two of 10 trips. Kansas City’s season conversion rate is 41%, second worst in the NFL.

It will be hard to improve against a Broncos defense that ranks 10th in the NFL in red zone efficiency, but with a close game expected, settling for a field goal over touchdown could be the difference.

It won’t be easy for Denver either, as the Chiefs have the fifth best red zone defense allowing touchdowns only 50% of the time.

Importance of Winning the Turnover Battle

Since 2013, the Chiefs are 27-5 in games where they win the turnover battle, including a 6-0 record this year. Kansas City has the best turnover margin in the NFL at 13 over. Their 23 total takeaways also lead the NFL.

If the Chiefs can turn those turnovers into touchdowns, like they did against New Orleans with Daniel Sorenson and Carolina with Eric Berry, they are 12-2 in games where they score a defensive touchdown.

Importance of Establishing the Run

The Chiefs have not topped 100 yards rushing since the New Orleans win and turned in only one 100 yard or more rushing performance from Spencer Ware this year.

Denver allows an average of 123 yards on the ground per game, which is 29th in the NFL.

The pass defense only allows 194 passing yards on average, good for second best in the league, so pounding the run game early and often with Ware, Charcandrick West and Tyreek Hill will be one of the most important aspects of the game.

Kickoff from Sports Authority Field at Mile High is set for 7:30 p.m.

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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