The Kansas City Chiefs visit the Denver Broncos in Week 17 of the 2017 NFL season. PFF previews the top player matchups of the game.
Coverage by: Mike Guerrelli
Matchup: Kansas City Chiefs offense vs. Denver Broncos defense
- RB Kareem Hunt vs. LB Brandon Marshall – With Kansas City's playoff seeding locked in, their starters may not play many snaps in Week 17. Hunt is PFF's fourth-ranked running back with an 89.4 overall grade, and he tops all backs with an 88.3 rushing grade. He leads running backs this season with 18 breakaway runs (gains of 15-plus yards), and with 75 missed tackles forced. Marshall has been on the field more than any Broncos linebacker this year with 860 snaps on defense. He ranks 55th at linebacker with a 50.3 overall grade. Marshall's 6.0 percent run-stop percentage (percentage of stops per snap played in run defense) ranks 80th of 92 qualifying linebackers.
- TE Travis Kelce vs. S Will Parks – Kelce has been a problem for the Broncos defense over the last two seasons, as he's caught 26 balls for 394 yards and two touchdowns in three games against them. He is PFF's third-ranked tight end this season with an 87.6 overall grade. Kelce's 2.03 yards per route run ranks third among tight ends, and he leads the position with nine receptions on deep passes (targets 20-plus yards downfield). Denver will use multiple players to cover Kelce, and Parks will be among them. He's ranked 66th at safety with a 68.1 overall grade. In coverage, Parks has allowed 0.99 yards per cover snap, which ranks 77th of 87 qualifying safeties.
- T Mitchell Schwartz vs. Edge Von Miller – Schwartz faces an elite pass-rusher seemingly every week playing the AFC West. He has held up well, ranking 20th at offensive tackle with a 79.3 overall grade. Schwartz has not allowed a sack since Week 3 of this season, and he ranks 24th among tackles in pass-blocking efficiency (pressure allowed per-snap with weighting toward sacks). Miller is the highest-graded edge defender this season with a 95.7 overall grade, and he leads the position with a 95.1 run-defense grade. Miller tops all edge defenders with 79 total pressures, and is second with 31 run stops (plays graded as a “win” for the defense).
PFFELO Ranking: 25
Coverage by: Daniel Cohen
Matchup: Denver Broncos offense vs. Kansas City Chiefs defense
- WR Demaryius Thomas vs. CB Marcus Peters – Thomas has a tough matchup this week against Peters, who over the past four weeks has allowed a passer rating when targeted of 8.8. He has two interceptions and two passes defensed on 20 targets over that span. Quarterbacks this season have a passer rating of 62.4 when targeting Thomas, which ranks second-to-last among 42 wide receivers with at least 80 targets. They have thrown an astounding nine interceptions when looking for Thomas – most in the league. Whoever is at quarterback for the Broncos on Sunday may want to shy away from this matchup.
- RB C.J. Anderson vs. LB Derrick Johnson – Anderson has carried the ball 83 times over the past four games, while all other Broncos running backs have combined for 33 carries. In that span, Anderson has forced 13 missed tackles rushing, which is the fifth-highest total among running backs. Johnson’s strong suit is in coverage, as evidenced by the 42.8-point difference between his run-defense grade (43.5) and his coverage grade (86.3). Johnson has missed 14 tackles this season, tied for 11th-most among linebackers. Look for the Broncos to continue to ride Anderson’s hot hand and take advantage of the matchup against a poor run-stopping linebacker.
- T Donald Stephenson vs. Edge Justin Houston – Stephenson will have his hands full this Sunday against Houston, who rushes from the left side on 89.1 percent of his pass-rush snaps. From the left side, Houston has accumulated 51 total pressures, which is tied for the eighth-most left-side pressures by an edge defender. Stephenson’s pass-blocking grade of 40.0 ranks 76th of 85 qualifying tackles this season, and he has allowed at least five pressures in each of his last two games, including a whopping nine pressures last week. The Broncos would be wise to leave a tight end or a running back blocking on the right side this week to give Stephenson the help he’ll likely need.