Chiefs, Broncos Need QBs to Thrive If They're Going to Catch Raiders

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterNovember 28, 2016

Alex Smith started looking downfield late in the Chiefs' Sunday night victory.
Alex Smith started looking downfield late in the Chiefs' Sunday night victory.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

There are moments when the offense of the Kansas City Chiefs runs with the fluidity and sexiness of a woolly mammoth stuck knee deep in a tarpit. Baseball bats to the crotch provide more sensory enjoyment.

Plodding, boring, unimaginative, check-down-happy, stuffed-screen-pass, matriculating down the field between naps...this at times is that offense. That was the first half of the game against Denver.

Then Andy Reid takes the cuffs off of his quarterback, Alex Smith, sometimes for just a moment, and that boring, awful offense comes alive. That was the second half against the Broncos. That's what happened on the final drive in regulation as Smith's Chiefs drove the field and tied the score at 24 with seconds left.

That's also what happened in the final seconds of overtime. If Reid had opened up the offense earlier in the game, there would have been no overtime.

Travis Kelce (right) came up big on the Chiefs' final drive.
Travis Kelce (right) came up big on the Chiefs' final drive.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Broncos clearly trust their quarterback, Trevor Siemian, and it showed, as he threw for 368 yards and three touchdowns.

And these quarterback showings provided the main lesson from Kansas City's 30-27 overtime win over Denver.

As this tight AFC West goes down to the final weeks, the Raiders are leading it with mostly offensive prowess. Right on their heels are two of the most scary and dynamic defenses in football.

What's becoming clear is that despite that defensive greatness, Kansas City and Denver will also need better quarterback play and, in the case of Reid, he'll need to crack open that playbook a little more.

Dust off the longer pass plays. Unlock the deep routes. And you won't need footballs doinking off the left uprights and bouncing in for the overtime victory.

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The Chiefs won. It was a huge road win. They deserve the credit, but they'll need more to beat the Raiders. A lot more.

"It was an ugly three quarters there to start the game," Smith told NBC's Michele Tafoya. "Defense and special teams kept us in it."

If you had to pick the best challenger to the Raiders, it's the Broncos, because coach Gary Kubiak isn't afraid to let his quarterback throw deep down the field. Reid seems to only let Smith throw deep when it's desperation time. That won't work against Oakland again.

The Chiefs beat the Raiders earlier in the season, with Smith completing 19 of 22 passes for 224 yards, but the Oakland team is different now. Really different. It will take even more offense to beat them. Not just great defense.

Because of that Kansas City defense and a re-emerging Justin Houston, the Chiefs will be one of those brutal, physical, punch-you-in-the-grill teams that, if they make the postseason, no team will want to face. Would you? Would you want to go against Houston, who in the first half alone against Denver had three sacks, the last of which forced a fumble that led to a safety?

That Broncos defense? It is basically as good as it was last season thanks to Aqib Talib and Von Miller.

The offenses? Alex Smith had 72 yards passing entering the fourth quarter. The 1920s called. It wants its offense back.

We've seen this before with Reid's Chiefs, where wide receivers are treated like the ugly ornaments you stick in the back of the Christmas tree. Then Smith threw it more in the final minutes of regulation. Again, Reid won't be able to be so conservative on offense if he wants to catch Oakland.

Emmanuel Sanders had a touchdown and 162 yards receiving for Denver.
Emmanuel Sanders had a touchdown and 162 yards receiving for Denver.Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Siemian kept throwing deep and eventually connected. Despite a low-scoring first half where Siemian looked rocked, he ended up converting huge pass plays in the second half.

The Broncos know that even against a great defense, you have to throw deep. You can't coach scared, and Kubiak doesn't. Reid often does.

It's going to be a wild, crazy finish, in a wild, crazy division that Oakland has by the neck. For now.

Open it up, Andy. As one of the great division quarterbacks in history, Ken Stabler, used to always say: Just throw deep.

Don't be scared.


Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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