10 Days to Denver: Coaching Trenches

Photo: Ron Chenoy USA Today Sports

Interim Denver Broncos Head Coach, Jack Del Rio, indicated he won't have much offensive input. Instead, he'll leave that up to his offensive coordinator and his starting quarterback. If that's indeed the case, it does give the Chiefs a tactical advantage in the first of two AFC West showdowns.

Everyone knows the upcoming game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos has the NFL a buzz. But now in the wake of the recent heart surgery of Head Coach John Fox, the Broncos are turning their fortunes over to Defensive Coordinator, Jack Del Rio.

In his weekly gathering with the media on Wednesday, he made it clear he won't meddle in the offense. That means, if there is a critical decision to make in regards to going for on it fourth down or deciding to punt the ball away, it'll likely be in the hands of offensive coordinator, Adam Gase.

Though that sounds like a good linear plan, the critical decisions may boil down to the plays Peyton Manning calls in the huddle not the ones coming from the sidelines. If I were a Broncos fan, I'd be worried.

I'm not taking anything away from Manning but without a strong head coach like Fox on the sidelines, that opens the door for Del Rio to be, (pun intended), out foxed by Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, and Defensive Coordinator, Bob Sutton.

Even with Fox on the sidelines The Chiefs are the best team the Broncos have faced all season long. So putting an interim head coach, a defensive minded one at that might be problematic if a critical decision has to be made offensively.

The coaching X-Factor is huge in this game. I've always maintained the decisions NFL head coaches make during the ebb and flow of a regular season game are critical to wins and losses.

In the post season, players determine the outcome of who goes home and who advances. Yes, this is a playoff type of game but Del Rio isn't in the same class as Reid and it's not even close.

As far as defensive coordinators, Del Rio, has some chops but Sutton has far more to work with in Kansas City than his counterpart in Denver.

The closer this AFC titanic battle gets to reality, the more I like the Chiefs chances to win this first contest. Of course, should Denver lay an egg (as I suspect they will) in San Diego on Sunday that could change my line of rationale. For now, let's see how that game plays out.

Regardless of the man on the sidelines with head coach title, the Broncos are still being heralded as the class of the NFL. However like the Chiefs, they've only beaten a single team (Dallas) with a winning record and their toughest game on the schedule, a road contest at Indianapolis, they lost.

But with four brutal road games left on the schedule, at San Diego, at New England, at Kansas City and at Houston, there isn't anyone who believes they can win all four. If they play like they did against the Colts, they will be hard pressed to split those road contests.

For me, the chess matches being drawn up by Reid and Sutton to counterpart Del Rio, Gase and ultimately Manning, certainly favor Kansas City.

Denver is a great team that has its flaws. The Chiefs are a great team that also has a list of flaws. Short term this match up is critical in gaining a November advantage for both teams quest for an AFC West title.

But before the Chiefs travel to Denver, the Broncos must go into San Diego to face a Chargers team that must win to keep any hopes of a wild card dream alive. They are a desperate team that possesses one mighty advantage in giving the Broncos coaching staff all they can handle on Sunday afternoon.

New Chargers new head coach, Mike McCoy, ran the Broncos offense a year ago and nobody knows Manning's tendencies like the man who resurrected his career.

You see coaching does matter in the regular season.

So whatever happens the next two games on the Broncos sidelines, could determine if Denver is in the divisional race when these two teams have their rematch at Arrowhead Stadium the first weekend of December.

Until then Chiefs fans just continue to enjoy the hype.

Who wins with game on the line between Andy Reid and Jack Del Rio?

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