The Chiefs’ strength on offense is their running game. They use lots of outsize zone runs, meant to allow Jamaal Charles to get to the edge as well as to create cutback lanes. Charles is the one man on this offense the Broncos defense will need to focus on. Luckily for Denver, they have the speed capable of keeping him in check. If they do, and the game is put on the shoulders of Alex Smith, the Chiefs will be in significant trouble.
As we mentioned last week, there is a reason Alex Smith has a “game manager” label. He doesn’t take many chances with the ball, which may limit turnovers, but it also means a lot of big plays are left on the field. He’s the type of quarterback that needs help around him to be successful. That won’t change on Sunday night in Denver.
The Chiefs will have to use Jamaal Charles to their advantage in order to help Smith. Obviously, they’ll try to get him going in the running game, but play-action can help slow down the Broncos’ increasingly dangerous pass rush. Also expect to see Andy Reid use Charles in different ways to attract the defense’s attention, opening up windows in the passing game. This might not just be with play-action, but also with motion and his alignment on the field.
Sending Charles in motion and having him align on the perimeter can help the Chiefs offense dictate to the Broncos defense. Why is this so important? Because the Broncos are at their best on D when they’re attacking. When they can play man, bring blitz pressure, confuse the quarterback and take the game to the offense they are at their best. 3rd downs specifically are where they like to get most aggressive.
Andy Reid knows his team can’t move the ball at a consistent rate and keep up with the Broncos offense, so expect him to try and manufacture points with designed shots in the passing game. Most importantly though, the Chiefs rushing attack needs to be effective. It will keep Denver’s offense off the field and set up play-action. More so, it will help keep the Chiefs on schedule by avoiding unmanageable 3rd downs where the Broncos are most dangerous.