Everything starts with the pass rush for Kansas City, and that's why the Broncos' efforts to emphasize the run in the last 10 days will be especially crucial in trying to contain their edge rushers.
The Broncos have enjoyed success neutralizing Justin Houston and Tamba Hali in recent years by using quick timing passes and screen passes to force them out of the all-out edge attack they'd love to mount. They are the most potent threats to the Broncos' offense -- particularly Houston, the NFL's sack leader who also has 39 hurries, according to ProFootballFocus.com, the second-most in the league.
But if the Broncos can re=establish the run, it compounds the problems they can present to the Chiefs -- and provides another way in which they can keep Kansas City at bay.
Battered by the news that All-Pro safety Eric Berry has a mass in his chest that could be lymphoma, the Chiefs defense rallied around the star of its secondary -- and will soon have to rally to replace him.
From a personnel perspective, the Chiefs are expected to move cornerback Ron Parker to safety to replace Berry.
"(There is a) retie good chance he goes to safety; we don't want to tell anybody, though," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said.
"I think so far he's proven to be equally good at both positions for us," added Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Dutton. "I think he's done just an incredible job to be honest, to be able to go back there and play corner to start out and then get a heavy dose of safety and then have to go back to corner and has done a really good job."
Parker's usually steady play helped the cornerback corps, which struggled with inconsistency beyond the stellar play of Sean Smith, who has not allowed a touchdown since Week 1.
STOPPING THE RUN**
The Chiefs became just the sixth team since 2000 to allow two or fewer rushing touchdowns during the first 11 games of the season, illustrating the remarkable ability of its defense to close lanes in goal-to-go situations.
But unlike those other teams, opponents have gashed the Chiefs on the ground at all other areas on the field. None of those teams, most recently the Baltimore Ravens, allowed more than 4.01 yards per carry when holding teams to a touchdown total that low through 11 games. Conversely, the Chiefs' 4.96-yards-per-carry allowed figure is not only the highest among that 2-TD-or-less group, but the worst in the NFL this season.
Kansas City has not allowed less than 4.3 yards per carry in any game this season. In the last three games, teams have racked up 5.55 yards per carry, while averaging 164.67 yards per game.
KANSAS CITY BY THE NUMBERS
- Yards per game: 328.3, 8th
- Yards per play: 5.28, 9th
- Takeaways: 9. 30th
- First-down rate: One every 3.35 plays, 25th
- Third-down conversion rate: 36.88 percent, 6th
- Yards per game: 198.9, 1st
- Yards per pass play: 5.51, 4th
- Sack rate: One per 12.08 pass plays, 5th
- Touchdown rate: One every 23.53 pass plays, 14th
- Quarterback hurry rate (per ProFootballFocus.com): One per 3.34 pass plays, 15th
- First-down rate: One per 3.05 pass plays, 12th
- Yards per game: 129.4, 26th
- Yards per rush: 4.96, 32nd
- First-down rate: One every 3.88 carries, 29th
- Touchdown rate: One every 143.5 carries, 1st