Denver Broncos Playoff Hopes Hinge on Exploiting Chiefs Rush Defense

James AdkinsCorrespondent IIJanuary 3, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 6:  Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos runs with the ball for yardage during their NFL game against the Kansas City Chiefs on December 6, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 44-13. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The last time the Chiefs and Broncos played, Denver’s offense ran up and down the Arrowhead Stadium turf like it was their own backyard. In that game, six different Broncos ran the ball 45 times for 245 yards, leading the Broncos to a dominant 44-13 victory over the Chiefs.

Needless to say, the Broncos will be putting their playoff hopes in the hands of their rushing offense again this Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High. Rookie Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels, already down one playmaking wide receiver in Eddie Royal, has benched Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler for Sunday’s game.

So if the Broncos are to make the playoffs, they’re going to have to do it with defense and their running game. That means if the Chiefs are going to play spoiler, they’ll need a much better performance on Sunday from their defensive front seven than they turned in back on December 6th in Kansas City.

The Chiefs rush defense has been the single most disappointing thing about the team all season. Only the Buffalo Bills defense has allowed more rushing yards this season than the Chiefs’ 2,420, which equates to over 161 yards allowed per game. By contrast, the Chiefs offense is only averaging 107.5 yards per game.

Sunday also marks the last opportunity for players like defensive tackle Ron Edwards and linebackers Corey Mays and Derrick Johnson to make a case for being members of this team next season.

The line of Edwards, rookie end Tyson Jackson, and second-year end Glenn Dorsey has struggled to keep opposing offensive linemen off the Chiefs linebackers. As a result, players like Mays and veteran Demorrio Williams often get swallowed up by lead blocking guards and fullbacks, springing opposing running backs for big gains.

Additionally, in the passing game, the Chiefs front three has yet to produce a single sack this season. In fact, the Chiefs sport the only defensive line in the entire NFL without a single sack by one of its starting defensive lineman.

And since the Broncos won’t likely be throwing much on Sunday, there’s a good chance the group of Jackson, Edwards, and Dorsey will end the season with a goose egg in the sack column.