Chiefs vs. Broncos: Five Things to Watch

Key matchups, important stats, a potential X-Factor and the storyline everyone is talking about

The Kansas City Chiefs (3-0) travel to take on the Denver Broncos (2-1) at Broncos Stadium at Mile High this week on Monday Night Football.

It's the first of five primetime games for the Chiefs this season, and it's their second road divisional game of the year. They went on the road and beat the Los Angeles Chargers by a score of 38-28 to open up the season.

The Chiefs will be looking for their sixth-straight win over the Broncos, and their 18th win in their last 19 games against AFC West teams overall.

A win on Monday would also make the Chiefs the only team with a winning record in the division after four weeks, and it'd also mean a two-game lead in the AFC West with three of the four wins coming on the road (two in the division) to begin the season.

The game kicks off Monday at 7:15 PM CT and can be seen on ESPN, or you can listen on the Chiefs Fox Football Radio Network KCFX (101.1 FM).

Here are five things to watch during the game:

1.    Can Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs' offense do it again?

Through three games, the stats show us that this is the most prolific offense in franchise history up to this point. That's what we've witnessed as they're breaking records each and every week.

For starters, the Chiefs have scored at least 38 points in each of their first three games, and they're only the third team in NFL history to ever accomplish the feat. The 2007 New England Patriots and the 1967 Baltimore Colts are the other two.

If they can score 38 or more points against the Broncos on Monday night, they will become the first team in NFL history to score that many in each of the first four games of a season.

They have also yet to trail at any point in a game this season, so there's that.

Furthermore, Chiefs' second-year quarterback Patrick Mahomes has set the football world on fire with the start to of his career, which coincidentally began at the very field he'll play on Monday night. His start against the Broncos last year in Week 17, which ended with him putting together a memorable game-winning drive in the final minutes, was what started all of this hype.

And it's only grew from there.

Mahomes has set NFL records in each of the last two weeks—tossing 10 touchdowns through his first two games, and then he added three more last week against the 49ers to give him the record through three weeks.

To do it again, Mahomes will need four touchdowns on Monday night to pass Peyton Manning's NFL record of 16 touchdowns through the first four weeks of a season. He did that in 2013 with the Broncos.

"There's still room for a ton of improvement," Mahomes explained earlier this week of the Chiefs' hot start on offense. "That just speaks to the guys that we have who can still make plays. We've gotten compared to some of those (all-time great) offenses, but it's still early in the season.

"We've still got to do a lot of things and prove a lot of things."

On the flipside, the Broncos' pass defense has allowed 13 completions of 20-plus yards this season, which ties them for 24th in the NFL.

2.    Will Travis Kelce stay hot?

It's already understood that Travis Kelce is one of the two best tight ends in the league, but if you only would have watched his last three games against the Broncos in trying to make that determination, you'd have thought there's zero question that he's the best in the league.

That's how good Kelce has been recently against the Broncos.

In his last three games, he's been targeted 37 times, hauled in 26 receptions for a ridiculous 394 yards, and has two touchdowns as well.

The Chiefs are facing a Broncos' defense that over the years has loved to play man-to-man coverage on the outside, and Kelce is just too much of a matchup problem for defenses to live by one certain coverage for too long. He'll beat it and make you pay. It's why he's made three-straight Pro Bowls and has been named a first-team All-Pro as well.

And through three games this year, Kelce has been targeted a team-high 26 times, caught 16 passes for 229 yards, and added a couple of touchdowns.

The Chiefs have so many weapons at their disposal that it's almost a week-by-week thing on who might be the beneficiary of all the targets and plays—Kelce had the hot-hand one week, while Hill and Watkins have made their plays as well.

In fact, there have been nine Chiefs' players who have already caught touchdowns this season. The NFL record is 13.

It's looking more and more each week like the defense is actually the one making that determination on who's going to make all the plays because Mahomes is getting the ball to the right guys at the right times. He's seeing the field well, reading the defense and finding the guy in the best situation to make a play, and at least lately against the Broncos, that field has seen Kelce in some pretty good situations.

3.    Do the Chiefs grab their second interception of the season?

The Chiefs' defense hasn't had an interception in their last two games.

In Week 1 against the Chargers, veteran safety Ron Parker picked-off Philip Rivers in the second half for one of the key plays in that game, but that's been it for the Chiefs' defense this season in that department.

On Monday, they'll face a quarterback who's tied for the league-lead in that category.

The Broncos' Case Keenum has thrown five interceptions this season after signing a lucrative two-year contract this offseason, and what stands out the most about those interceptions is that four of them have come without any pressure on him.

Keenum, whose passer rating of 71.6 ranks 29th in the league right now, has just made bad decisions, or the throw went a little errant. Either way, the Chiefs' defense could have a few opportunities to make plays on the ball on Monday night.

Emmanuel Sanders is Keenum's top receiver right now with 19 receptions for 269 yards and a touchdown.

4.    The Broncos' rushing attack is a problem

While Keenum has struggled at times over each of the last three games, the Broncos' running game has been surprisingly strong considering they're splitting the duties between a couple of rookies.

Phillip Lindsay is an undrafted rookie that leads them with 33 carries for 198 yards. He's a burner at 5-feet-8 and 190 pounds and has the speed and quickness to cause all kinds of defensive problems.

The other rookie, Royce Freeman, who was selected in the third round (No. 71 overall) out of Oregon, is more of a between-the-tackles runner at 6-feet tall and 238 pounds.

As a group, they're averaging 144 yards-per-game on the ground, which ranks as third-best in the league.

5.    Some stats to know and a couple of matchups to watch

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