In the two weeks since I began this 13-day series, I've hit every angle of this game and its left me with this conclusion; I have no idea who does or doesn't have the advantage.
Despite the overwhelming assumption the Broncos are going to paste the Chiefs in this game, I'm finding it hard to believe their 9-0 start will be tainted with an egg laying effort in Denver.
I can rattle off numerous reasons as to why I think that to be true, but at the end of my thought process, this game really boils down to the success or failure of KC's All Pro running back.
Jamaal Charles leads the NFL in combined yards from scrimmage, rushing yards and is near the top in receptions for all running backs. To say he's the key to the Chiefs success Sunday night against the Broncos would be an understatement.
Those numbers are significant but they mean very little if Charles can't have the game of his career against the Broncos. The Denver defense is solid up the middle. If they have a weakness, it's their edge defense. So, keeping it simple, if Charles can get outside using his speed and cunning running style, he not Manning, will be the story everyone is talking about Monday morning.
For that to occur though, Charles has to dial up his game. Yes his stats are great but big time players have to excel in big time games. Charles has yet to have a break out game this season.
I'm not saying he has to rush for 200 yards but if he did the Chiefs probably win this game easily. Charles will be a focal point in KC's passing game so it may not be realistic to think he can succeed at both.
Then again if Reid has drawn up the proper offense to combat the Broncos improving defense, then perhaps it will be the Charles show.
At stake Sunday night is supremacy in the AFC West and leverage in obtaining home field advantage in the post season. Both teams are a lock to make the playoffs. However, one of them will be the top overall seed in the AFC while the other will be the fifth seed and be forced to play their playoff games on the road.
So if the Chiefs are really going to seize the day, they're best player on offense has to carry the load and then some. It's clear the Chiefs will feature Charles but the offensive line must create open spaces so he can carve up yards and ultimately find the end zone a couple of times.
I could care less if that comes via the ground or though the air, it just has to occur multiple times if the Chiefs want to win this game.
If Charles indeed scores twice and should the Chiefs defense or special teams pitches in another, that means, if they can find the end zone a fourth time via a receiver or tight end, they'll win this game.
But none of that can occur, unless Charles is extra special Sunday Night.
In the end this game doesn't boil down to the Chiefs defense versus the Broncos offense. Instead it boils down to Manning versus Charles. So whoever wins that individual battle will likely be riding high in the after glow of the biggest win of the season for either team.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Can Charles out duel Manning for the games MVP?
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