3rd Place in AFC West
Last Game: Bye
Next Game: vs. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3)
The Broncos bye week came at an ideal time, with QB Trevor Siemian needing to rest a bad shoulder and all-world corner Aqib Talib recovering from injury.
Talib and stout DT Derek Wolfe are both back at full strength, and the Broncos defense is as full and healthy as it’s been all season. That’s bad news for a Chiefs team who struggled to move the ball against a Bucs defense that hasn’t been great. The Bucs are 26th in total defense. The Broncos are 4th.
If the Broncos didn’t find a running game and Siemian’s shoulder is still wonky, it may not really matter.
Paxton Lynch showed he wasn’t ready in his only start against the Falcons earlier this season, and though Siemian is no — ahem — Derek Carr, the Broncos are 7-2 with him at the helm and he’s been mostly effective.
He’s surely not the long-term answer but if Devontae Booker and the Broncos running game improve he can manage the game well enough. The Broncos got manhandled by the Raiders and nearly lost to the Saints due to their inability to run the ball or stop the run effectively.
Spencer Ware is dangerous for the Chiefs. Latavius Murray and company showed in Week 9 the Broncos are vulnerable on the ground. Expect the Chiefs to take the air out, especially with Talib back, and depend heavily on Ware.
With Charcandrick West in concussion protocol and Jamaal Charles unfortunately unable to heal, Ware is pretty much it in the backfield. Conversely, expect the Broncos to load the box and force Smith to air it out to beat them.
If they wish to back up recent talk from John Elway about a return to the Super Bowl, the Broncos need to play better on offense and they need this game. Losing and falling behind the Chiefs and Raiders wouldn’t bode well in a deep AFC West.