ReFo: Broncos @ Chiefs, Week 13
For the sixth straight encounter between these two AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos emerged victorious over the Kansas City Chiefs with running back C.J. Anderson once again playing a starring role. Aided and abetted by a ferocious pass rush, Anderson led the Broncos’ attack on the ground as Peyton Manning capped off early drives through the air to build a lead that the Chiefs never looked like threatening.
This was a more comfortable victory in a tricky stretch against AFC playoff contenders for the Broncos who face three more weeks of games against teams scrapping for playoff places. Meanwhile the Chiefs’ next game against the Cardinals now takes on added meaning with both sides at risk of sliding to late season slumps that could cost them playoff seedings or their playoff berth altogether.
Denver Broncos – Performances of Note
C.J. Anderson, RB: +4.6
Breakdown: After patiently waiting for his turn in the Broncos’ backfield Anderson is grabbing that opportunity with both hands last night building on a string of performances that caught Sam Monson’s eye in our Analysis Notebook feature last week. Anderson racked up 150 yards on the ground for the second straight week and broke through a baker’s dozen worth of missed tackles from an off-color Chiefs defense.
Signature Play: Continuing to add value as a receiver on top of his running, Anderson’s score came late in the first quarter beating Justin Houston to the inside before running through tackles from both safeties on his way to the end zone.
Von Miller, LB: +2.7
Breakdown: Miller hasn’t always put in his best displays against the Chiefs in the past but his seven pressure (2 Sk, 1 Ht, 4 Hu) display last night was in tune with the sort of displays that have become customary from Miller. After sparring with Ryan Harris early in the game, Miller came alive late on getting the better of Donald Stephenson for a couple of sacks to apply the pressure late on that didn’t allow the Chiefs to mount any sort of a late comeback.
Signature Play: Miller’s first sack came with 5:40 left in the game turning a sharp corner around Stephenson to set the Chiefs back even further in their comeback attempt.
Chris Harris, CB: +2.5
Breakdown: Harris’ season continues to astound as he puts in yet another positively graded display, a streak now dating back 15 games to Week 16 last season. Tested twice on the Chiefs’ opening drive, Harris set the tone for the rest of the night breaking up one pass and yielding little of consequence to Dwayne Bowe all night long.
Signature Stat: Harris has now gone a full year without allowing more than 50 yards in coverage in a single game, the last time came against these Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 13 last season (6-of-11, 70 yards, 2 PD).
Kansas City Chiefs – Performances of Note
Justin Houston, OLB: +5.4
Breakdown: Positives were thin on the ground for the Chiefs last night but in Justin Houston they have a destructive force as metronomic as Von Miller is for the Broncos. Countering Peyton Manning’s quick release with a pair of batted passes, Houston also notched four stops in run defense limiting C.J. Anderson to 4 yards on three carries on right end, even if the rest of the defense didn’t follow his lead.
Signature Play: Louis Vasquez held his own against Houston as a pass rusher but for one play at the start of the third quarter when Houston ripped past Vasquez’s outside shoulder for a strip sack to setup another Chiefs three-and-out.
Josh Mauga, ILB: -6.4
Breakdown: After solid spell from Week 4 to Week 9, the wheels have fallen off a little for Mauga in the last month, capped off with a dire display last night in run defense. Mauga missed five tackles to take his total for the last month to 10, missing most of the opportunities he created for himself as he spent much of the rest of the night struggling to get off blocks from a multitude of Denver blockers.
Signature Stat: His five missed tackles were (unsurprisingly) the most by any defender this week with teammate Ron Parker next up with four.
Jamaal Charles, RB: +1.4
Breakdown: It has been a common criticism of Andy Reid that he neglects his running backs and you could certainly question Jamaal Charles’ workload last night. Though the Chiefs were playing from behind all night, the Broncos never got so far ahead that Charles being limited to 14 touches makes a great deal of sense.
Signature Stat: Breaking four tackles on the ground and snagging his fourth receiving touchdown of the season, Charles was still a threat when given the chance.
PFF Game Ball
No other running back has played more than C.J. Anderson’s 250 snaps in the last four weeks and he is making the most of it with last night’s performance capping off a month that earned him a +15.8 overall grade.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben