NFL GameScout 9/27/2018 The Sports Xchange
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KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (3-0) AT DENVER BRONCOS (2-1)
KICKOFF: Monday, 8:15 PM ET; Broncos Stadium at Mile High; ESPN, Joe Tessitore, Jason Witten, Booger McFarland, Lisa Salters (Field reporter)
SERIES HISTORY: 116th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 61-54. The Chiefs have won their last five games against Denver, including three straight on the road. The Chiefs hold a 17-1 record against AFC West opponents, a stretch that began with 29-13 win at Denver in 2015. The most recent game was on Dec. 31, 2017 (the final game of the season), in which quarterback Patrick Mahomes drove the Chiefs to a game-winning field goal in the late going in his first career start.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Chiefs have a simple offensive game plan each week - score early and score often. The Chiefs hope to have to deploy a more consistent offensive attack against Denver after scoring five touchdowns in the first half last week against San Francisco but mustering just three points in the second half. Look for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to attack all parts of the field with his array of targets. The Chiefs will look to use Denver's defensive aggression against them with a lot of misdirection and use of the screen passing game.
Kansas City wants to see its defense end the game as quickly as they start them. The Chiefs jumped out to quick leads in each of their three wins, outscoring opponents 49-6 in the first quarter. But the opposition has the advantage after that, outpacing the Chiefs 86-69 after the first quarter. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton wants the back end of his defense to tighten up, and success in the secondary depends on a strong pass rush led by linebacker Justin Houston.
The Broncos will try and control the game on the ground, which would effectively take the ball out of Mahomes' hands.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Broncos LB Von Miller vs. Chiefs RT Mitchell Schwartz. Schwartz has had good success against Miller in the past, and hasn't allowed a sack to Miller during the last three matchups. Miller shares the league-lead with four sacks entering Week 4.
--Chiefs CB Kendall Fuller vs. Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders. The Broncos have lost five straight games against the Chiefs and Sanders missed three of those. Sanders has roasted the Chiefs a few times in recent seasons including a seven-catch, 162-yard performance in his last game against the Chiefs in Week 11 of 2016. Fuller should draw most of the matchups against Sanders out of the slot, where the receiver has done most of his damage against the Chiefs.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Broncos RB Phillip Lindsay. Lindsay has made a notable impact in his first three career games in more ways than one. The undrafted free agent out of Colorado was ejected for throwing a punch in a first-quarter scrum over a loose ball last Sunday. A key contributor and catalyst in both of Denver's two wins to start the season, his absence was felt in the team's first loss of the season at Baltimore as the Broncos' offense stalled repeatedly against the Ravens. Baltimore scored 20 straight points to finish the game after trailing 14-7 early on. Lindsay is averaging 6.0 yards on 33 carries with a long of 53 yards. He has three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
FAST FACTS: CHIEFS are 3rd team in NFL history to score 38+ points in each of team's 1st 3 games of season (2007 New England Patriots & 1967 Baltimore Colts). ... QB PATRICK MAHOMES completed 24 of 38 (63.2 pct.) for 314 yards with 3 TDs vs. 0 INTs for 115.5 rating last week. Has 13 TD passes through Week 3, most in NFL history by QB in team's 1st 3 games of season. Leads NFL with 13 TD passes & 137.4 rating. ... RB KAREEM HUNT rushed for 2 TDs in Week 3. Since entering league in 2017, has 4 multi-TD games, tied for 3rd most in league. In 7 career games vs. division, has 796 scrimmage yards (113.7 per game) & 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.). Since 2017, ranks 2nd in NFL with 1,495 rush yards & 3rd with 1,955 scrimmage yards. ... WR TYREEK HILL has 2 rush TDs, TD catch & KR-TD in 3 career games vs. Den. ... TE TRAVIS KELCE had 8 catches for 114 yards last week. Aims for 3rd in row with 100+ rec. yards. ... LB JUSTIN HOUSTON had 2 sacks & 2 FFs in Week 3. Has 10 sacks & 13 TFL in his past 5 vs. Den. ... BRONCOS QB CASE KEENUM since 2017, is 1 of 6 NFL QBs with 4,000+ pass yards (4,290), 25+ TD passes (25) & 65+ comp. pct. (66.4). ... RB ROYCE FREEMAN (rookie) had rush TD last week. Aims for 3rd in row with TD. ... Rookie RB PHILLIP LINDSAY & Freeman (157) are only pair of rookie teammates with 150+ scrimmage yards each in 2018. ... WR EMMANUEL SANDERS has 3 TD catches in his past 4 vs. KC. ... WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS has TD catch in 5 of his past 6 at home. Since 2012, ranks 2nd in NFL with 591 catches, 3rd with 7,963 rec. yards & 5th with 52 TD catches. ... LB VON MILLER has 4 sacks & 2 FFs in past 3. Has 8 sacks & 11 TFL in past 8 vs. KC. Since entering league in 2011, leads NFL with 87.5 sacks & ranks 2nd with 115 TFL. ... Rookie LB BRADLEY CHUBB had sack last week. Is tied for 3rd among rookies with 1.5 sacks.
PREDICTION: The Chiefs train keeps rolling, even at a Mile High.
Our Pick, Chiefs, 31-24