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Kansas City Chiefs-Denver Broncos: Three Key Matchups

Russell FikeCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2010

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 06:  Running back Jamal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs tries to turn the corner as safety Brian Dawkins #20 of the Denver Broncos defends during the game on December 6, 2009 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The season is dead, but the team’s pulse is still pumping. 

If fans only care about outcomes, then they were walking for the exits on the Kansas City Chief’s season weeks ago. 

However, a team with nothing left to play for but pride can be a very scary team to face for an organization under the pressure of earning a playoff birth.

When the Chiefs march into Denver to face the Broncos, the red and gold will attempt to cast themselves as spoilers to the playoff hopeful Broncos.

In their last meeting, Denver trounced Kansas City to the tune of 44-13, and some key matchups can be examined to see if the result will be something different or painfully similar.

Jamaal Charles vs. Knowshon Moreno

Knowshon Moreno, rookie out of Georgia, running back for the Denver Broncos, is 103 yards from a 1,000-yard rushing season while averaging 3.8 per carry. 

Jamaal Charles, second-year running back for the Chiefs, who assumed the starting role since Week 10, is 139 yards from a 1,000-yard rushing season while averaging 5.2 yards per carry. 

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Unfortunately, against Denver in Week 13, Charles averaged 3.1 yards per carry, a low since assuming the starting role.     

Still, the numbers clearly show Charles to be the more explosive runner, but an impressive game from both ball carriers is likely. 

Moreno is facing an atrocious Kansas City run defense.

Charles is on a hot streak that puts him on par in recent weeks with the likes of Barry Sanders. 

In fact, in 1998, Sanders would average only 3.1 yards on 22 carries against the Minnesota Vikings, while the rematch in Week Eight would see Sanders with a 5.3 yards-per-carry average.

Can Charles show a similar resilience and make his bid to be considered the elite running back of the AFC West as the incumbent LaDainian Tomlinson’s career continues to fade?  Or will Moreno prove the type of back in the Bronco running back carousel that continues to give Kansas City defenses nightmares?

 

Matt Cassel vs. Kyle Orton

The franchise quarterback of the future in Kansas City, Matt Cassel, came into camp and signed a monstrous long-term contract. 

Since then he has thrown for 2,717 yards with 16 touchdowns and 15 picks for a 70.1 quarterback rating. 

Oft-booed in Chicago, Kyle Orton appeared to be a desperate reach for Denver when their hand was forced to make a trade of pro bowl quarterback Jay Cutler

The former offensive coordinator for New England and new Bronco head coach, Josh McDaniels, disgruntled Cutler by conducting trade talks regarding Cassel, who had one year of experience under McDaniels.    

This season, Orton has thrown for 3,371 yards with 20 touchdowns and only nine picks for a quarterback rating of 89.3.

With the dust settling from all of this, two story lines emerge.

Do the Broncos have their quarterback of the future, or are they looking to supplant Orton with a player capable of making “all the throws,” so they can better stretch the field?

In fact, the Bronco’s pass game is a short game with lots of receiver bubble screens.

With the Chiefs locked into a long-term deal with Cassel, has the franchise been set back by commitment, is their enough flexibility to move in another direction, or is Cassel showing enough to merit the tenure of the starting quarterback spot?

Kansas City Chiefs’ Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast vs. Job Security 

It was an offseason of upheaval and new faces for Kansas City.  New general manager, new head coach/offensive coordinator, new quarterback, and new defensive coordinator.

Kansas City also introduced a new 3-4 defense.

The Chiefs have stumbled their way through a season of transitioning to the 3-4. 

Kansas City has been gashed with big plays and average next-to-last in the NFL for rushing yards allowed. 

It is unlikely Kansas City will have similar offseason changes this summer as the new faces will be given more than a year to prove their merit.  However, the one person least likely to have some leniency regarding performance is Pendergast. 

In the late '90s Kansas City had a powerful defense with limited offense to match it with. 

In the early part of the new millennium, Dick Vermeil led a Kansas City team with a dominant offense and no defense to provide support.

As we enter the second decade of the new millennium, Kansas City is a team with a weak defense partnered with a struggling offense. 

Kansas City is currently 3-12 and it’s a small mystery why.  

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