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Chiefs vs. Broncos: Examining the Offense

Here’s a closer look at the Kansas City Chiefs offense against the Denver Broncos

If you would have asked someone before the game who would have had more big plays of at least 20 yards or more on offense between the Chiefs and Broncos, fair to say most would have picked the Broncos. 

And most would have been wrong.

The Broncos offense had just three explosive plays, and one of those came on a run. Most people remember the first offensive play of the game: the deep pass to receiver Emmanuel Sanders that went for 48 yards. But after that, the Chiefs defense did a great job of not giving up big plays.

When you go up against a quarterback like Peyton Manning, there need to be some counterpunches thrown in terms of picking up chunks of yards on the offensive side while maintaining drives and keeping Manning and the Broncos offense off the field. 

Chiefs coach Andy Reid's game plan and play calling worked perfectly in this regard.


The Chiefs converted 11 of 16 third downs, including 7 of 9 in the second half and dominated time of possession, having the ball for 36:14 to the Broncos 23:46.

In the first half, the Chiefs ran 16 plays on first down averaging 3.9 yards per play. In the second half, the Chiefs ran 18 first down plays averaging 2.8 yards per play.

But the Chiefs turned it up in the second half on third down, averaging 12.2 yards per play. The average distance to go for the Chiefs to convert a third down in the second half was nine yards.

When the Broncos defense knew the Chiefs needed a big play to sustain crucial drives in the second half of a close game, they couldn't stop them from getting those big plays. 

Stats can tell you a lot, but without context, they can be pretty useless. This shows the Chiefs answered the call in big situations when their backs were against the wall.

It might not have led to a victory, but the Chiefs kept swinging back against the defending AFC Champion in their house.

Overall, the offense showed an explosive ability on Sunday. They had seven plays of at least 20 yards with two of those being running plays.


While it ultimately didn't help them win the game, there are plenty of reasons after Sunday to feel the Chiefs offense is trending upward.

Let's take a closer look at how the Chiefs offense faired in different situations against the Broncos.

Diving deeper, the Chiefs ran seven different personnel groups against the Broncos, and they had a play of at least 10 yards from six of those seven groups.

The most popular was "11" personnel, meaning three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end. They went with this group on 30 of their 75 plays, passing 21 times and rushing nine. Quarterback Alex Smith completed 15 of 21 passes for 93 yards in this group, and the nine rushes accumulated 73 yards on the ground.

The Chiefs ran "12" personnel 18 times, which consists of one running back, two tight ends and two receivers. They ran six times and passed it 12 out of this group. Smith completed 7 of 12 passes for 100 yards, and the six runs combined for 27 yards on the ground.

Of the 18 plays ran in this group, seven of them resulted in at least 10-yard gains for the Chiefs offense.

View photos from the Chiefs week two match up against the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs used two running backs on the field for 24 plays in three different groups, pairing them with no tight ends (3), one tight end (17) and two tight ends (4).

Although they only used the group twice, when the Chiefs brought in all three tight ends—Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris on the field together—they completed both passes (only two plays) for 27 yards.

The chess match between coaches on both sides in the different personnel groups and matchups they're using and trying to exploit differ from week to week and even within the game for a number of reasons, and these numbers are just part of the story.

But with seven explosive plays in six different personnel groups, the Chiefs offense was clicking against a very good Broncos defense.

Coach Reid has stated the offense needs to be better once they get into the red zone, and as long as the offense continues to improve and build upon what they did in Denver, they should have plenty of opportunities in the red zone moving forward. 

The Chiefs will prepare this week for a Miami Dolphins defense that ranks 23rd in the NFL in scoring defense, while giving up 214 yards per game on average through the air (No. 15) and 101 yards per game on the ground (No. 13).

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