View Full Version : Ivan Carter - When The Chiefs Run

4th and Long
09-12-2004, 07:25 AM
Denver has put together a nasty defense with size and power along the line, speed at linebacker and heavy hitters at safety. New cornerback Champ Bailey should allow safeties John Lynch and Kenoy Kennedy to creep down into the box. Still, the Chiefs have the game's best offensive line, and Priest Holmes hasn't looked this explosive since 2003.

Even with Clinton Portis gone, Denver remains committed to the run. It sets up everything the Broncos do. And they appear to have a pair of capable backs in Quentin Griffin and Garrison Hearst. The key for the Chiefs will be middle linebacker Monty Beisel, who will make his first career start. Beisel can't overrun plays, which will create cutback lanes.

The player to watch is Bailey. If Chiefs wide receiver Johnnie Morton is unable to carry a full load, it's hard to imagine the Broncos doing anything but putting Bailey exclusively on Dante Hall. That means Eddie Kennison and rookie Richard Smith must make plays on the outside. Trent Green must be his usual accurate self and avoid the costly turnover. The Chiefs were 9-0 when they had a positive turnover ratio in 2003 and 4-3 when they were even or negative.

Jake Plummer looked terrible during the preseason. He hit just 51.6 percent of his passes and didn't lead the Broncos to a TD until the fourth game. A bunch of no-names are trying to replace tight end Shannon Sharpe, and the team is waiting for Ashley Lelie to show something at wide receiver. Rookie wideout Darius Watts had a terrific camp and could provide a deep-threat complement to veteran Rod Smith.

In what should be a tight game, the Chiefs will be counting on a new punter (Steve Cheek) and new place kicker (Lawrence Tynes). The Broncos have a reliable place kicker in Jason Elam and a solid punter in Micah Knorr. The Chiefs, however, have the ultimate difference maker in Hall.

The Broncos are 34-0 at home when scoring 30 or more points under Mike Shanahan. The Chiefs are 3-0 under Dick Vermeil in the initial road game of the season. But the real difference maker is Gunther Cunningham, who went 4-0 against Denver as Chiefs head coach and has always had a knack for stopping Shanahan's offense. Then there's Hall, of course. When Hall makes big plays against Denver, the Chiefs win. When he doesn't, they lose.

Denver is a brutal place to play, but Plummer's poor play combined with Holmes' excellence will make the Chiefs 1-0. Prediction: Chiefs 24, Broncos 21.

Ivan Carter/The Star