Broncos and Chiefs finding success in similar ways

Kansas City leads the league with 23 takeaways, while Denver is tied for second with 20. These extra possessions and short fields have led to a bunch of points for both teams.

Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) heads up the sidelines on a 45 yard reception during first quarter action against the Oakland Raiders in the NFL game at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland,CA October 11, 2015.  (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)
Denver Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders (10) heads up the sidelines on a 45 yard reception during first quarter action against the Oakland Raiders in the NFL game at O.Co Coliseum in Oakland,CA October 11, 2015. (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)
Emmanuel Sanders and the Broncos will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. (Photo: © Eric Lars Bakke/ Denver Broncos)

If you squint hard enough, the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs look like similar teams.

The Broncos’ (324.7 ypg, 27th) and Chiefs’ (333.8 ypg, 27th) offenses both rank in the bottom third of NFL teams in total yards. Each team is led by a maddeningly conservative quarterback. And Denver and Kansas City both don’t have much of a running game.

Where the Broncos and Chiefs excel is on defense. They’ve been successful in different ways — with Denver relying on its stable of pass-rushing linebackers and all-world secondary, and the Chiefs more so leaning on their secondary later in plays — but one thing each unit can do is force turnovers.

Kansas City leads the league with 23 takeaways, while Denver is tied for second with 20. These extra possessions and short fields have led to a bunch of points for both teams. The Broncos are first in the NFL in points off turnovers with 90, which accounts for 38.9 percent of their scoring. The Chiefs, meanwhile, have turned their takeaways into 72 points — the second-most in the NFL and 32.4 percent of their offense.

That’s ridiculous. Almost 40 percent of Denver’s points are scored following a takeaway, and about a third of Kansas City’s are. Both offenses lean heavily on their respective defenses to create those turnovers.

The Broncos and Chiefs aren’t identical by any means. But there are plenty of similarities between the 7-3 teams who meet on Sunday Night Football.

The Von Miller Oversized Glasses Matchup of the Week

Dee Ford vs. the Broncos right tackles.

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Dee Ford is having a monster season; he’s tied for the NFL lead in sacks with 10. Broncos right tackle Donald Stephenson is, uhhh, not.

“Broncos RT Donald Stephenson has been disastrous this season, especially in pass protection,” wrote Pro Football Focus after Stephenson allowed two hits and four hurries in 31 snaps against the Saints earlier this month. “Stephenson currently ranks dead last among 78 qualifying NFL tackles (left and right) in both overall and pass-blocking grades for 2016.”

Ford is questionable for Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue. But if he plays, Stephenson and backup Ty Sambrailo, who Broncos coach Gary Kubiak said will play more, could have their hands full.

How to watch the game

When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium

TV: NBC

The line

DENVER -3 1/2

The pick

Broncos 20, Chiefs 17

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Christian Clark

Author: Christian Clark

Christian Clark covers sports. He's worked for outlets that include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Oklahoman, Columbia Missourian and Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine. He likes music and Mexican food. Lots and lots of Mexican food.