Relive the Broncos' series history with the Chiefs with photographs dating to the teams' AFL roots in the 1960s.
The Broncos' regular-season opener isn't for another few months, but over the next few weeks, DenverBroncos.com will take an early look at each game on the Broncos' 2020 schedule. We don't know how injuries could impact each contest, but we'll present the pressing storylines, matchups, questions and more.
It's never too early to start talking football.
We continue with Denver's Week 7 game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Storylines to monitor:
The Broncos have meaningful games to begin to build their playoff resume in the first six weeks of the season, but the division race seems set to take off with this Week 7 contest. Five of Denver's six divisional games come in the final eight weeks of the season, but this matchup against Kansas City could signal whether the Broncos are truly ready to compete for their first AFC West title since 2015.
The Broncos did their best this offseason to position themselves for a run at the defending Super Bowl champs as they added veteran defensive pieces and speed on offense. For the first time, they'll get to measure up against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs.
But here's the only storyline that matters: The Chiefs have won nine consecutive games over the Broncos — and the last two weren't close. Denver lost last year's slate by a combined score of 53-9. Broncos fans desperately want that streak to end, and the team will get its chance to prevent the slide from reaching double digits in this Week 7 matchup.
Player to watch:
DL Chris Jones
When you play the Chiefs, there's lots of players that could be featured in this section. On offense, it starts with Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Defensively, Chris Jones, Frank Clark and Tyrann Mathieu can wreck games. Mahomes is obviously the Chiefs' most valuable player, but let's focus here on Jones. In the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIV, he was incredibly disruptive and gave the Chiefs a chance to mount their comeback. Jones made his first Pro Bowl in 2019 as he recorded nine sacks and 36 tackles in 13 games. A year earlier, he recorded 15.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.
The interior of the Broncos' offensive line will look quite different in 2020, as Lloyd Cushenberry III could start at center as a rookie and Graham Glasgow seems likely to slide in at right guard. Against Jones, they could face their toughest test of the season. If the Broncos can handle Jones at the point of attack, it will make things easier for Melvin Gordon III and Phillip Lindsay in the running game and prevent Drew Lock from facing interior pressure in the passing game. If Jones is overly disruptive, though, the Broncos may have trouble improving their scoring output.
The question mark:
How much has the Broncos' offense caught up?
A season ago, the Chiefs ranked fifth in the league in scoring as they posted 28.2 points per game en route to a Super Bowl win. In the playoffs, they scored 51, 35 and 31 points, respectively, in their three games. The Broncos, meanwhile, averaged just shy of 18 points per game and ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category.
This offseason, the Broncos added Glasgow and Gordon in free agency before drafting Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Cushenberry and Albert Okwuegbunam. In the process, they surrounded Drew Lock with both talent and speed.
They'll need to use those new weapons, because the Chiefs' offense may be even better in 2020. Even if the Broncos' defense is improved, it still may take a 30-point outburst to beat Kansas City. In this game, we'll get to see just how much distance the Broncos have closed on the Chiefs.
The last meeting:
In the Broncos' last home matchup against the Chiefs, the Broncos had a chance on "Thursday Night Football" to move within a game of Kansas City in the division. Denver entered the game on a two-game winning streak, while Kansas City had dropped two consecutive games. On the first drive of the game, the Broncos marched down the field and scored a touchdown to take a 6-0 lead. Not much else went right. The Broncos failed to convert the two-point conversion on the drive, and the Chiefs' offense found its rhythm. After the Chiefs returned a fumble for a touchdown to take a 20-6 lead, the result wasn't in much doubt. Even without Patrick Mahomes for most of the game — he suffered a dislocated knee in the first half — Kansas City still posted 30 points.