|12-06-2009, 05:31 AM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2001
Kush & Irsay
Chefs, Broncos complete strangers
Chiefs, Broncos complete strangers
Division foes underwent makeovers since last meeting
Posted: 12/06/2009 12:18:33 AM MST
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The nicknames are the same. Not much else is in Denver and kansas city.
In today`s NFL, franchises that have played one another twice a year for half a century can become almost like strangers in just 12 months. Since the Broncos beat the hapless Chefs 24-17 last Dec. 7, both teams have changed head coaches, offensive coordinators, defensive coordinators, general managers and quarterbacks, among others.
Leading rushers for the Chefs that day were Larry Johnson and Tyler Thigpen. Both are gone, as are the top receivers, Tony Gonzalez, who was traded, and Dwayne Bowe, who is suspended.
Jay Cutler threw two touchdown passes for Denver that day, but he`s playing for Chicago now. One of his passes went to Chiefs cornerback Maurice Leggett, who returned it for a touchdown. But he won`t be on the field either today when the Chiefs and Broncos meet for the 99th time.
Denver`s leading rusher that day was Peyton Hillis. He`s still there. But the running attack now is more directly keyed to Knowshon More-no, who leads NFL rookies in with 688 yards rushing and 784 yards from scrimmage.
While getting ready this week, it may not have done much good to study film of recent meetings. Too much has changed.
"Other than personnel and some one-on-one matchups, you can`t gain something out of it. I do believe they are two different teams now," said Chefs coach Todd Failey.
Linebacker Derrick Johnson sees both old and new.
"There have been an awful lot of changes for both of us. But it`s still the Broncos and they still have an explosive offense with guys like (wide receiver) Brandon Marshall," he said. "And I`m sure it will be typical of all the games the Chiefs and Broncos play -- very high-energy."
Here`s one thing that`s just the way it was: The Chefs (3-8) are struggling to escape mediocrity while Denver (7-4) contends. The Broncos, behind rookie coach Josh McDaniels, won their first six games, lost their next four and then got straightened out on Thanksgiving night with a 26-6 victory over the New York Giants.
"I won`t say we`re back on track," said defensive end-linebacker Elvis Dumervil, who leads the league with 14 sacks. "But I think we`re headed back in the right direction. We did have a couple of stumbles. But it`s a long season and it shows the character of a team when you can stay together."
As a division game, it`s an especially important outing for the Broncos. Their main rival in the AFC West, San Diego, has already swept the Chefs. Denver, which hosts kansas city on Jan. 3, will need a sweep of its own to maintain the tiebreaker with the Chargers.
The Chefs stumbled out of the gate 0-5 in Failey`s first year. In their last six games, however, they`re 3-3 and feeling better about themselves. They snapped a 10-game home losing streak in their last appearance in Arrowhead Stadium by beating Pittsburgh. Now the Broncos game marks the beginning of a three-game homestand.
"Hopefully, we can take advantage of that opportunity, get some wins," said linebacker Andy Studebaker. "We need to do that. It`s not often you get three home games in a row."
After the Broncos, the Chefs will host Buffalo and Cleveland.
"We`re in a good position right now," said running back Jamaal Charles, who has seized his opportunity since Larry Johnson was released last month. "Our fans can be behind us. We`ve got three games we`re confident we believe we can win."
Since Johnson was cut loose and Charles was elevated to starting running back, he has eclipsed Johnson`s team-leading rushing total, and with 54 fewer carries. He had a 97-yard kickoff return and caught a touchdown pass in the Steelers game, and was AFC special teams player of the week.
But he`s also had a couple of costly fumbles, including one last week in a 43-14 rout by San Diego when it looked like the Chiefs might forge a 14-14 tie. It`s a problem that`s bugged him since college days at Texas and something opponents no doubt have noticed.
"He`s a young player. Those things will happen. He`s also a very fast guy, a big playmaker," said Dumervil. "I think we`ll have an opportunity, and that`s all it is. He`s a professional. I`m sure he`s working on it every day in practice."
|12-06-2009, 05:44 AM||#2|
Front 7, Please
Join Date: Dec 2005
|12-06-2009, 07:44 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jul 2006