ReFo: Chiefs @ Broncos, Week 17
It has been a tale of two seasons for Denver and Kansas City. One team is at the top of the NFL and the other is going to have the first selection come April. This game looked lopsided on paper, and turned out to be even more so on the field. An early fumble by Ronnie Hillman gave the Chiefs a glimmer of hope, but Brady Quinn and the offense were unable to capitalize. Peyton Manning soon extended a 7-3 lead with two second-quarter touchdown passes to Eric Decker, and the game was over before the end of the third quarter. With the win, the Broncos are awarded the No. 1 seed and have a chance of playing either the Ravens, Bengals, or Colts after a week off. They have the best record in the NFL and are the hottest team coming into the playoffs since the undefeated Patriots. What they did to the Chiefs showed how complete their offense and defense are, and they certainly deserve to be the favorites in the AFC.
The Chiefs depart the 2012 season on about as low a note as possible. By the middle of the fourth quarter the whole team had packed their bags. The offense gained only 119 yards while the defense allowed 488. In the end it came down to the passing game, and PFF had them graded as the fifth-worst in the NFL. Their inability to win games finally cost head coach Romeo Crennel his job on Monday, but Scott Pioli survived. The offseason will be interesting in KC. While taking any quarterback with the first overall pick this year would likely be a reach, as Geno Smith and Matt Barkley have both seen their stock drop considerably from the beginning of the season, it is hard to see the Chiefs leaving the first round without drafting a quarterback.
It was a laugher on the field, but who’s performances made it turn out that way? These are the six who made the biggest impact.
Kansas City — Three Performances of Note
Javier Arenas is a tough customer at corner who doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s 12th among cornerbacks in Tackling Efficiency despite being only 5’9”, 197 pounds. Toughness will only go so far though, and sometimes size takes precedence. That was the case on Sunday when the pair of 6’3” wide outs for the Broncos matched up with Arenas. The CB allowed 114 yards on the day on seven of nine targets in easily his worst game this season. To be fair, Arenas wasn’t the only corner to look bad on Sunday. Jalil Brown was similarly torched (four of four and 54 yards) and the only player in the Chiefs’ secondary to have a positive grade was Brandon Flowers (+0.1).
It may not have been the way he wanted to go out, but Ryan Lilja can hold his head high knowing he played a great nine-year career and was able to leave the game on his own terms. For an undrafted free agent coming out of Kansas State, Lilja surpassed all expectations that were had of him. On Sunday though, he looked his age. The guard turned center this season got little push against the Broncos’ front all day. For the year though, he was their most consistent run blocker and finished with a final grade of +14.5 for the season. Running behind his gaps were two of the most successful lanes for the Chiefs all year. He will be missed, and it is disappointing that it had to end as early as it did.
Had a Bad Day
Justin Houston’s bad game against the Broncos didn’t cost them the game by any means, but it certainly made Peyton Manning’s job easier. Houston didn’t manage a single pressure for just the fourth time all season, as Orlando Franklin had his number all day. His struggles were only exacerbated by dropping into coverage where he gave up a completion all three times he was targeted. Houston had a breakout year this season, but it looked as though he hit a wall in the second half of the year receiving a total grade of -4.3 since week 11. Houston still finished the year sixth in Pass Rushing Productivity among 3-4 outside linebackers and figures to be heading into his prime.
Denver — Three Performances of Note
A Freaky Catch
If you are in search of catch of the year nominees, look no further than one Demaryius Thomas. His one-handed snag in the back of the end zone with 9:10 left in the third quarter was a thing of beauty. Tysyn Hartman made a halfhearted attempt to defend the pass because it was far out of his reach. When Thomas caught the ball Hartman signaled incomplete, likely because he thought there was no way a human being could have come down with that pass. That catch though, was just the cherry on top of a 7seven-catch, 122-yard performance. Thomas was targeted only eight times and made the most of them, gaining 39 yards after the catch and breaking a tackle for a superb game.
Manuel Ramirez appears to be coming into his own just at the right time. On Sunday Ramirez earned his second straight grade of +4.0 in what were his best two games of the season. Ramirez didn’t allow a pressure and also cleared the way for the running game. Broncos backs gained 127 of their 172 yards right of center, and much of that was due to Ramirez’ dominance.
Pro Bowl Performance?
When the pro bowl rosters came out last week there were more than a few head scratchers. While Elvis Dumervil wasn’t the most egregious selection (Jeff Saturday?), he was one that we here at PFF thought was undeserving. His performance on Sunday didn’t change our minds. Dumervil did little against the run or pass, achieving only one hurry on the day. While he is a talented pass rusher (10th this year in PRP among 4-3 ends) he has always struggled against the run and that didn’t change this season.
— Von Miller had just the one quarterback disruption, his lowest output of the year.
— Brady Quinn completed just one pass over 10 yards in the air all day.
— The Broncos missed only one tackle.
PFF Game Ball
The Broncos had a number of excellent performances, but Demaryius Thomas takes this one. It wasn’t just his one-handed catch, it was the ease with which he sliced up the secondary. Easy choice.
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