The Broncos did it in a manner that has become customary during their 8-1 start—the offense complements the defense when the defense struggles, and the defense complements the offense when the offense struggles.
In today's game, the Broncos offense got off to an excellent start. Three first half drives resulted in three touchdowns. No drive lasted longer than two minutes and 27 seconds.
The defense allowed a chunk of yards and first downs to the Chargers offense in the first half, but to little effect—San Diego scored just six points on three drives threatening in Denver territory during the opening half. This was despite the fact the Chargers held the football for nearly 23 minutes of the first half, in comparison to Denver's seven minutes of time of possession.
The Chargers came in with the right game plan. They just failed to execute.
The second half was a different story. After an opening drive that saw the Broncos score their fourth touchdown of the game in a little less than four minutes, the offense sputtered.
The Broncos failed to score any points over the remaining 26 minutes of the game. Littered in the ineptitude of the offense was another Peyton Manning fumble which led to the Chargers' first touchdown of the game late in the third quarter.
Despite the dominance of time of possession of the Chargers offense, combined with the Broncos' lack of offense in the second half, the Chargers still lost.
The Broncos defense stalled the Chargers offense when it had to. On the Chargers' final offensive drive down just 28-20 late in the fourth quarter, Philip Rivers was sacked twice, including once by Broncos linebacker Von Miller.
Like many of the team's victories this season, it was a team effort.
The media has focused on how excellent the offense has been, pointing to the record-breaking numbers, and displaying the defense's low statistical defensive rankings.
But this has been the case the entire season. The defense has helped the team to victories, whether that has been through red-zone stops or forced turnovers whenever the team has needed it.
And now comes the big test—the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11.
The Chiefs visit Mile High with their undefeated mark on the line. The Chiefs possess the best record in the NFL, along with a stingy defense which ranks No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed per game (12.3), turnovers forced (23) and sacks (36).
The Broncos possess the best offense in the NFL, ranking first in the league in points per game, total yardage and first downs.
Something's gotta give. What should one expect in Week 11's marquee meeting?
The Broncos will be too much for the Chiefs to overcome.
More specifically, the Broncos offense will be too much for the Chiefs to overcome.
It will take a perfect game for the Chiefs to knock off the Broncos. The defense is by far the best in the league. But they will have to execute a game plan similar to the Indianapolis Colts' game plan when they knocked off the Broncos 39-33 in Week 7.
The Chiefs will have to play bump-and-run coverage with Denver's quartet of receivers—Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas—in order to have a chance at slowing down the Broncos passing attack. The Chiefs certainly have the personnel to play physically, as they have all season long. The question is, will they have enough personnel to cover all of Denver's receivers?
Julius Thomas opened the game with a 74-yard touchdown for the Broncos. Demaryius caught three touchdowns on the day, two on quick screens or flat routes. Welker and Decker both moved the chains for the Broncos and combined for 73 yards on six receptions.
The defense will also have to pressure Manning. The unit does lead the league with 36 sacks, spearheaded by Justin Houston's 11 sacks and Tamba Hali's nine sacks. I'm not just talking about sacking Manning three or four times in the game—I'm talking about relentless pressure from the opening whistle until the end of the game as the Colts did in Week 7.
Kansas City will only beat Denver with the perfect game plan. To go along with the perfect game plan, you need proper execution.
The Chargers came into today's game with the perfect game plan. Keep Manning off of the field, have the Chargers offense wear down the Broncos defense and do not turn the ball over.
And they still came out with a loss. Lack of execution in the red zone led to a Chargers loss despite their victories in time of possession (38 minutes to the Broncos' 22) and the turnover battle (Broncos' 1 to Chargers' 0).
Lack of execution in one area cost the Chargers the game today—they couldn't put the ball in the end zone.
That is all it takes for the Broncos to beat any team in the NFL, including the Chiefs—lack of execution in one category.
The Broncos are too stacked and talented. If the Chiefs offense led by quarterback Alex Smith fails to convert red-zone opportunities into touchdowns—as the Chargers' Philip Rivers did today—the Chiefs will lose.
Rivers was off to the best start of his NFL career, leading the league in completion percentage and ranking in the top three in passer rating. The Broncos defense made him look ordinary today.
In terms of red-zone scoring percentage (touchdowns only), the Chiefs rank 26th in the league with a 48.28 percent conversion rate. That will not get the job done versus a Broncos team that was averaging 43 points per game entering Week 10.
In order for the Chiefs to knock off the Broncos in Denver, Kansas City will not only need the perfect game plan, but near-perfect execution.
The Broncos defense has made established quarterbacks such as Joe Flacco, Robert Griffin III and Philip Rivers look ordinary.
If the Chiefs are to knock off the Manning-led Broncos, Smith will have to look more than ordinary—he'll have to match Manning and the Broncos offense.
If the aforementioned three quarterbacks couldn't do it, it looks like Smith and the Chiefs will have a long night in Denver next Sunday.
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