Week 4 Monday Night Football on October 1st (8:15 pm EST) will take place at the Broncos Stadium at Mile High in Denver, CO as the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs come to town for a 2017 Week 17 rematch with the 2-1 Denver Broncos.
The Chiefs at that time were the AFC West champs with a playoff spot and the fourth seed in the playoffs secured, so they rested their quarterback, Alix Smith, and started his rookie backup, Patrick Mahomes. They beat the Broncos 27-24 but lost the wildcard game to the Tennessee Titans 21-22 and just over three weeks later traded away Smith and announced Mahomes as their starter.
Turned out to be a great move, as Mahomes is on a record-breaking pace in 2018 and looks to continue his second-year path to Kansas City glory at Mile High Stadium against the Broncos on Monday night.
The Denver Broncos came out of the 2018 gate swinging and winning, barely, taking care of both the Seattle Seahawks (27-24) and the Oakland Raiders (20-19) by narrow margins. But in Week 3, the Baltimore Ravens put Denver’s lossless run to a stop when quarterback Joe Flacco had his way with them, 14-27.
Next to the Chiefs, the Broncos have a considerably better defense and a comparable offense, so it will be up to quarterback Case Keenum to have a bigger game than Mahomes, which can happen if Denver’s two-headed linebacker beast can shut Kansas City’s powerful passing game down.
If the Chiefs win, they’re undefeated and on top of the AFC West. But if the Broncos come out on top, both teams move to 3-1, into a divisional first place tie and then let the race to the playoffs begin.
Who’s favored to win this Week 4 Chiefs-Broncos matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Chiefs and the Broncos and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Chiefs offense on fire
After three weeks, 23-year-old Patrick Mahomes is ranked as one of the NFL’s top-ten quarterbacks in passing yards thrown (896 yards, ranked 9th), but where he rules the football roost is in touchdowns thrown (13) and interceptions (0). His offense has averaged 39.3 points per game, which ranks first in the league.
With those numbers, Mahomes is on track to have one of the greatest seasons by a quarterback in football history, the current greatest being Peyton Manning’s 2013 season, when he threw for a record 5,477 yards and 55 touchdowns for a passer rating of 115.1. Mahomes passer rating after three games is an impressive 137.4, which ranks first in the league right now.
Mahomes will target speed demon Tyreek Hill, who’s averaging 103.3 yards receiving per game and who already has 3 touchdowns, and Sammy Watkins, who’s averaging almost 60 yards per game and has a touchdown. Fun to watch 2nd-Team All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce will most likely add to his growing stats – 16 catches for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running back Kareem Hunt, who was All-Rookie last year, will contribute the Chief’s 15th ranked rushing attack that’s put up 103.3 yards per game.
The 2018 Broncos offense tied for lead in picks
Quarterback Case Keenum has completed 61.1 percent of his passes this season (66 / 108) for 743 yards and three touchdowns, which puts him 18th among NFL quarterbacks in 2018. Keenum’s main problem is taking care of the ball, having thrown 5 interceptions already, tied for first overall. He’s been sacked five times so far, tied for 20th most in the league.
Receivers Demaryius Thomas (16 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown) and Emmanuel Sanders (19 catches for 269 yards and a touchdown) have done a decent enough job, but Denver’s passing attack is ranked 16th after averaging 238.0 yards per game.
Helping the Broncos’ offensive cause is rookie running back Royce Freeman, who was chosen in the third round of the 2018 draft. Combine Freeman’s already big numbers (36 rushes for 152 yards and 2 touchdowns) with the surprising output of undrafted free agent Phillip Lindsay (33 rushes for 198 yards) and it’s obvious why the Broncos’ run game is ranked 3rd in the league.
Chiefs Defense ranks 32nd in the league, Broncos D ranks 14th
Defense is where the Broncos have the edge in this matchup.
Even though Denver’s defense only ranks 14th in the NFL, they’ve managed to hold opposing rushers to just 77.7 yards per game, 4th best in the league. It’s their 22nd ranked passing D that brings their overall ranking down, allowing 262.7 yards a game.
Kansas City’s defense is last in the league, but here’s where it might get interesting.
The Chief’s are actually okay against the run, allowing 111.3 yards per game, tied for 18th in the league. It’s their passing defense that’s lacking – tied for 31st with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after allowing 362.7 passing yards per game. Mahomes should have a lot of fun with that, especially given that the Broncos have only picked off two passes so far this season.
Where Mahomes should be very worried is with the Broncos’ two star linebackers, 2nd-Team All-Pro veteran Von Miller and first-round draft pick Bradley Chubb. So far, Miller has 4.0 sacks, 11 tackles and 2 forced fumbles, while rookie Chubb has 5 tackles and 1.5 sacks himself.
Kansas City’s punter, Dustin Colquitt, has punted 9 times and averages 49.2 yards per punt, 7th best in the league.
Denver’s punter, Marquette King, has punted 17 times and averages 44.6 yards per punt, ranked 23rd in the NFL.
Kansas City’s placekicker Harrison Butker was an All-Rookie last season, and in 2018 he’s 2-for-2, his longest being a 46-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (16/16).
Denver’s veteran placekicker, Brandon McManus, is 4-for-4, his longest being a 53-yarder. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (7/7).
Chiefs-Broncos prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Chiefs favored to beat the Broncos by 5 with an over/under of 56.
CBSSports.com’s final score prediction: Chiefs 31, Broncos 24