Paul Klee’s three thoughts on Thursday’s game:
How do Broncos upset Chiefs?
The Broncos win Thursday night if they do what Kansas City’s last four opponents did: hand off to the running backs until the clock strikes 00:00. The Chiefs are a fraudulent Super Bowl contender, again, because they can’t stop a parked car. Check out the rushing yards compiled against the Chiefs in the past four weeks: 203, 186, 180 and 192. That includes fantasy football free-for-alls from Melvin Ingram (103 yards), Kerryon Johnson (125), Marlon Mack (132) and Carlos Hyde (116). If Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay don’t win your fantasy matchup this week, something went terribly wrong. The Chiefs defense will be gasping at the thin air to begin with. The Chiefs on Sunday had their lowest time of possession (20:12) at Arrowhead Stadium since 1991, meaning their defense was on the field long enough to smoke a rack of baby back ribs. “I’m not concerned, but I’d like to get off the field faster,” Andy Reid said on a conference call with Colorado media. Lindsay averages 14 carries per game, Freeman 11. Bump those to 20 apiece — eight clear of the average — and Denver wins.
Is Broncos Country warming up to Vic Fangio?
As Vic Fangio hustled into his Monday news conference, he rocked a ballcap with an “M” recognizable to anyone who’s driven through Golden at night. “Colorado School of Mines,” Fangio said. “Always support the local teams.” And the Orediggers are rocking and rolling like usual: 6-0 with all six wins by at least three touchdowns. Fangio’s first month as Broncos coach was the opposite: 0-4 and the loss of his best player, Bradley Chubb. But now Colorado’s gotten a good look at a real Fangio defense, the natives like what they see. Here’s another way Fangio can build belief around these hills: do some damage in the AFC West. Beating the Los Angeles Chargers marked the second road win over a divisional opponent since Peyton Manning was here. Wild, but the Broncos haven’t beaten the Chiefs in just as long. K.C. coach Andy Reid, 61, is five months older than Fangio. Upsetting Big Red on Thursday Night Football would be one helluva way to win over the locals. Air Force should mail a hat to Fangio to seal the deal.
Is Marcus Mariota a cautionary tale for Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes?
If Chiefs fans need proof why injured superstar Patrick Mahomes should not play Thursday, all they must do is watch a replay of the Broncos’ last game. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is a shell of the quarterback who won the 2014 Heisman Trophy. But it was only five years ago football folks felt the same way about Mariota as they now feel about young guns Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. In Mariota’s NFL debut, he threw four touchdowns. He threw another four touchdowns in his sixth game. The hype was real. What happened? The mobile, risk-taking quarterback — ahem — took too many big hits and played through too many injuries. One of those was a fibula/ankle injury that required surgery. Mahomes has an ankle injury. The Chiefs’ quarterback is too fun to watch to wish anything but good health. Sit him. Plus, Mahomes is a free agent after 2020. Ask the Spurs if middling with Kawhi Leonard’s health was a good idea.
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at [email protected] or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)
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