Homefield advantage a big deal in AFC West rivalry
Posted: Monday September 26, 2005 2:54PM; Updated: Monday September 26, 2005 8:39PM
The Chiefs' Larry Johnson is running for 8.4 yards per carry so far this season.
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Strange things seem to happen when Monday Night Football visits Denver. It only makes sense that ABC's final Monday night game here will be a weird one.
The AFC West is still a tough division to figure out. The Chiefs are 2-0 and appear to be the front-runner. But Dick Vermeil is 0-4 in Denver as K.C.'s head coach and the home team has a big edge in this rivalry.
The Chiefs Win If ...
... returner Dante Hall breaks one against the Broncos, a team that he has tortured in the past. The Chiefs are using a lot of Hall on offense this season, which may be hurting his returning, but he seems due to bust a big one.
Kansas City's improved defense might be over-hyped at this point. The Chiefs rank 26th overall, but ninth in scoring. Still, that's a lot better than last year when they finished 31st overall and 29th in scoring. All this team really needs is to be a middle of the pack defense to keep on winning, and after two games you can tell there's a substantial improvement from last year.
K.C. quarterback Trent Green has struggled in Denver. He threw four picks to Deltha O'Neal alone in an infamous 2001 performance. But Green has had huge games against the Broncos at home, so he is capable of moving the ball against this defense. Green hasn't thrown a touchdown pass yet this year and has yet to develop a consistent groove. But he's healthy and due for a big game, so maybe he'll break the Mile High jinx tonight.
The Broncos Win If ...
Broncos quarterback Jake Plummer has a 59.9 passer rating after two games.
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... they contain the Chiefs running game. Denver managed to stuff LaDainianTomlinson in Week 2, and the defense has another tough assignment tonight against Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. Holmes has had a lot of success against Denver and Johnson's emergence this season means the Chiefs always have a fresh running back.
The Broncos have had a lot of success running against the Chiefs in recent years. Denver has averaged 217 rushing yards per game over the last four home games against Kansas City. The Broncos had trouble establishing the running game in their first two games, and no one has stepped up as the No. 1 guy yet.
Denver quarterback Jake Plummer needs to remain poised when the Chiefs blitz, which will be often. In the first two games, Plummer hasn't looked sharp, throwing one touchdown and three picks.
In their past 17 Monday Night games, including the preseason, the Broncos are 4-13. A franchise that used to shine in primetime has fallen on hard times lately.
Look for Al Michaels and John Madden to hype Kansas City's defense all night, regardless of what happens on the field. The Chiefs have given up a lot of yards, and Denver will move the ball. The Broncos have not looked good this season, but homefield advantage will be the difference. Denver will take advantage of a late turnover to eke out the win long after most of us on the East Coast have gone to bed.