There are some advance scouts in the league who say the Broncos might not recognize Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday when they arrive there to face this edition of the Chiefs.
Since Arrowhead opened and folks fired up the grills outside, Broncos teams of any pedigree have gone 14-24 there, including an 8-15 mark since the start of the 1990 season. But that's when Arrowhead was loud, often cold and always intimidating to the visitors no matter what they said.
These days, Arrowhead is a collection of empty seats surrounded by angry fans, many dressed in black to protest what has become of their team.
And on the field, the Chiefs are indeed a 1-9 mess, facing a long road to be anything different.
The Chiefs turn the
Their injury report is also little more than insult to the rest at this point with the Chiefs having finished last week's loss to the Bengals without five starters on offense. Wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, center Ryan Lilja and guard Jon Asamoah didn't play in the game because of injuries. And then wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and left tackle Branden Albert suffered injuries during the game.
Yet there is likely one chance for the Chiefs to defeat the Broncos on Sunday. Not a great chance, not even a good one, but it's there, and the Broncos won't have to look all that hard to see it.
Despite their epic collection of troubles, the Chiefs still have the No. 4 rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 145.4 yards per game. They are also fourth in the league in rushing attempts at 31.9 per game.
Now this isn't just a poke-the-optimism-balloon item. This is a trend the Broncos have lived against the Chiefs. The last five times the Chiefs have defeated the Broncos over the last six seasons,
As for the notion those games were all constructed by a talented Chiefs roster fighting for a postseason spot, just circle "false" there.
The 317-yard effort, with 259 coming from Jamaal Charles, was the 2009 season finale for a 4-12 Chiefs team. The 213-yard effort was one of two victories for a 2-14 Chiefs team in '08.
In 2010, the Chiefs won behind 185 yards rushing. And last season, with the Broncos fighting for playoff position and the Chiefs without Charles for the year, the Chiefs rushed for 106 yards, including a 21-yarder by Dexter McCluster that was the only touchdown of the game for either team.
Of course, trends are made to be broken these days for the Broncos with Peyton Manning behind center. But the Chiefs have gummed up the works at least some on several opposing passers this season.
They don't get many sacks, haven't had many interceptions and certainly haven't won because of it, but they have made it difficult at times for passers to find the rhythm those quarterbacks would like to have.
So, a fast start is Job One for the Broncos: get the lead and take the running game off the table for the Chiefs and crank up the crabby meter in the Chiefs home crowd. Because history has shown: If the Broncos let the Chiefs slug it out, a bad Chiefs team can use the run game to beat a Broncos team that thinks it is a good one.