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Mason's Mailbag: Chiefs a 'pick-your-poison' attack

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Is this a must-win game?

-- Marcia Parker

I hate that term. On the one hand, every game is a "must-win." On the other, a loss doesn't eliminate the Broncos from the postseason, although it would place them three games and a tiebreaker behind the Chiefs for first place in the AFC West, which would make a division title unlikely.

As we noted in this week's Horsin' Around podcast, a 2-2 record in this rigorous four-game stretch against teams that are a combined 19-8-1 would put the Broncos in position to make a December dash for the playoffs, as the combined record of the Broncos' first four foes that month is 8-18-1. It's not hard to imagine a Week 17, do-or-die home game with the Chargers if the Broncos can hold their own against the series of playoff contenders that looms between now and early December.

So I'm not going to call it a "must-win" game. You can get where you want to go without it. However, every loss reduces the Broncos' margin for error. Lose too many times, and that margin is gone.

With all of the Chiefs' offensive weapons, which one should the Broncos try to stop first?

-- Michael Harris

That's a tough question. Given their array of receiving targets, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has the ability to put a defense into pick-your-poison mode. But the most important Chief to stop could be running back Kareem Hunt -- especially near the end zone.

Since Hunt joined the Chiefs, they have lost just once when Hunt had at least one touchdown. When he scores, the Chiefs are 13-1 since he jumped aboard. When he doesn't, they are 5-7. (Kansas City did lose its playoff game last January in which Hunt caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score.)

Stopping Hunt is the top priority in safety Will Parks' mind, as well.

"We've obviously got to stop 87 [Travis Kelce], 10 [Tyreek Hill] and the quarterback [Mahomes], but we can't let 27 [Hunt] get rolling," he said. "A lot of people don't talk about him as they should, but he's a great running back and he's hard to tackle. He's kind of the underdog focal point in their offense. He's always sneakily getting 120 yards and things of that sort, breaking tackles in the back end and running through linemen, things of that sort.

"We've got to stop 27 first and try to put the ball in 15's hands."

With Chad Kelly now released, what are the chances we would try to trade for a QB like Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater? Or do you think they are comfortable with how the QB room stands currently?

Thanks!

-- Stephen Phelps

I doubt you will see a trade for a quarterback unless a season-ending injury strikes Case Keenum or Kevin Hogan. Remember, Kelly wasn't particularly close to seeing extensive action before his release this week; Keenum is the unquestioned starter at this point. 

The Broncos currently have $5,364,572 of salary-cap space, according to the NFLPA's daily salary-cap report, and that would prevent them from adding Bradford, anyway. Bridgewater is unlikely to be dealt by the Saints to any team unless circumstances dramatically change before next Tuesday's 2 p.m. MDT trade deadline.

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