PFF Preview: Broncos @ Chiefs, Week 13
The Denver Broncos (8-3) travel east on I-70 to Arrowhead Stadium for a divisional clash against the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) for this week’s edition of Sunday Night Football. The Broncos won the first matchup this year in Week 2 in a tight 24-17 goal line stand. The Chiefs were trapped last week as Oakland won their first game of the year, but luckily get to play at home where they are 4-1 and Denver has had road struggles (2-3).
In Week 2, Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders had big games combining for 170 yards on 13 receptions and one TD. Their PFF receiving grades were +2.9 and +1.8 respectively but most of that damage was done against Marcus Cooper (-2.3) who rarely sees the field now. The Chiefs’ best defensive back has been cornerback Sean Smith, posting +8.9 coverage grade on the season. When covering Thomas and Sanders, Smith held them in check as they combined for four receptions for just 35 yards. During the season, Smith hasn’t given up a TD since Week 1 and has allowed just 0.97 Yards per Cover Snap, 11th-best in the NFL. His 108 yards after catch allowed is 15th-best in the NFL, while he has allowed just 11 YAC the last three games.
Peyton Manning has a plethora of receivers to go along with Sanders and Thomas. Wes Welker and Julius Thomas are big threats as well, but Manning looks to the duo of Sanders and Thomas more than double any of his other weapons. Demaryius leads Sanders in yards and receptions by a small margin, but Sanders tops Thomas in our receiving grades, +14.6 to +13.7. Thomas does have the slight edge in Yards per Route Run, 2.77 to 2.58, but Sanders is the Deep Passing threat (25 targets and 411 yards, to Thomas’s 13 and 248 yards). Regardless of who is having the better season, it is clear that Smith will have to bring his A+ game in order to lock down either of these receivers.
C.J. Anderson – Breaking out with three straight monster games, Anderson is our fifth-rated running back but in just 236 snaps. His 2.15 Yards per Route Run is second-best the past three weeks.
Chris Harris Jr. – Harris received his first red grade of the year last week (albeit in run defense with two missed tackles). Our top-rated cornerback (+17.6) and tops in coverage (+18.1), Harris also is best in Yards per Cover Snap at 0.55.
Malik Jackson – A relative unknown with all the big name players on this defense, Jackson is the Broncos third-best defender per our grades. With a +14.7 PFF grade, Jackson’s only weakness has been his penalties (-3.8) in his 398 snaps. His 10.2 Run Stop Percentage is fifth-best in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs
De’Anthony Thomas – The speedster rookie from Oregon hasn’t had much action this year but saw his snap count more than double from the previous week from 16 to 34 when he started at receiver. Thomas was targeted five times, a season-high, and also ran the ball once on a jet sweep.
Alex Smith – Week 2 was Smith’s best game this season (+3.6). His 168 yards in the air and 63.1% YIA was a season-high.
Justin Houston – Coming off his best game of the year, Houston had one of his two negatively-graded games in Week 2. In that matchup, Houston had a season-high 19 snaps in coverage and a season-low 10 pass rushes. The other time Houston had a negative grade this year was in Week 10 when he was in coverage 19 times.
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