What We Saw: Broncos at Chiefs

An uninspiring Thursday Night Football game resulted in the subdued Chiefs sleepwalking past the dismal Broncos

Broncos @ Chiefs

Final Score: Chiefs 19, Broncos 8

Senior Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)


Poor quarterback play, penalties and two impressive defensive performances underpinned a drab Thursday Night Football contest at Arrowhead Stadium. Not even Taylor Swift could stop people turning off from this one. The Kansas City Chiefs led 16-0 going into the fourth quarter and had yet to get out of first gear when Courtland Sutton made a sensational one-handed grab for a score with just six minutes left to play to make things interesting. However, a forced Samaje Perine fumble (the Broncos third turnover of the game) with just 1:50 left ended the threat of any unlikely comeback.

Both teams tried a couple of risky plays throughout the contest without much luck, notably a Chiefs fake field goal attempt that failed to make the line to gain inside the Broncos 10-yard line in the second quarter. Both defenses and special teams were on point, however and shutdown big plays all evening. Saying that, Russell Wilson did not target rookie sensation Marvin Mims once all night. Sad sigh.



A visibly frustrated Patrick Mahomes will be worrying slightly about what this team can do going forward as there are clear limitations that are also harming his fantasy value. The Broncos slip to 1-5 and the fire sale should be well and truly open for business.


Three Up

  • Travis Kelce – a season-high 124 receiving yards on nine catches made Kelce the fantasy darling of this contest – he continues to be the go-to on offense for Mahomes
  • Isiah Pacheco – cementing his role as the lead back, Pacheco ran hard once again and did everything he was asked – a lack of opportunities in the red zone has been the only downside of his emergence
  • Courtland Sutton – a diamond-in-the-rough performance from the underrated wideout who put himself firmly in the shop window with some nice route running and a brilliant touchdown grab

Three Down

  • Russell Wilson – this worryingly inept performance reminded us of the 2022 version of Russ, not something we’ve seen much of this year – poor play calling didn’t help but his decison-making was dreadful
  • Marvin Mims – had less snaps than Lil’Jordan Humphrey, who was cut yesterday – an afterthought in this scheme
  • Javonte Williams – has yet to top more than 52 yards on the ground this season and looks to be in a timeshare – nowhere near RB1 thoughts for the injury-plagues Broncos running back


Denver Broncos




Russell Wilson: 13/22, 95 Yards, TD, 2 INT, 4 Sacks | 4 Carries, 31 Yards


The worst showing of Wilson’s 2023 slate so far was a gluttony of poor decision-making and appalling execution. It was the first time Wilson has ever thrown for under 100 yards and had two interceptions in his entire career. He looked unprepared, slow and unremorseful. Wilson made some odd throws in this game, especially on third down – he stared down a covered Adam Trautman on third-and-seven on the first drive and threw way short of the sticks before spiralling from there on. Another stare down resulted in the game’s first interception.


Wilson struggled with batted passes for most of the evening which points to both schematic and mechanical issues, and this eventually came back to bite the Broncos as a tipped ball was hauled in by Chiefs safety Justin Reid for a second takeaway.


It was the second straight game where Wilson has to bear a lot of responsibility for the Broncos losing the game. Not something that should be said of a veteran quarterback with a big contract.



  • Predetermined a pass and stared down his receiver allowing Nick Bolton to recognise the play and drop into coverage to pick the ball off on the Broncos second drive of the game – was guilty of this all night
  • Showed little chemistry with his receivers, including Jerry Jeudy who was called out before the game on the broadcast by Steve Smith and has been the talk of trade rumours.

Missed opportunities

  • A promising opening drive into Chiefs territory ended with a turnover on downs as Sean Payton chose to go for it on fourth down and three – Wilson escaped pressure but had nothing on downfield, taking a sack out of bounds


Running Back


Javonte Williams: 10 Carries, 52 Yards


This is a very messy and crowded backfield with no clear strategic game plan. All three running backs were used on the first series for the Broncos and the inconsistency looked to hinder any back getting into a rhythm. Williams’ best run was a third down conversion early in the game in which he spun away from two defenders and ran for extra yardage. He didn’t start the contest but ended up out-carrying rookie Jaleel McLaughlin and was featured more in the second half. Still, he looks a shadow of his former self.

Short yardage play calling for the Broncos was terrible all night and despite running the ball in for a two-point conversion, Williams has stuffed on two other occasions when trying to move the chains on late downs. Worryingly, Williams did not see a target in the passing game and only played 18 snaps.


Jaleel McLaughlin: 7 Carries, 30 Yards | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 12 Yards


Impressive McLaughlin showed some nice touches after being given the first carry of the game before rotating haphazardly with Williams for the rest of the contest. There wasn’t much on offer as the Broncos struggled across the offense and ran the ball just 19 times, mostly in the first half. As the game slowly drifted away from them neither back was featured in the second period with McLaughlin seeing just two touches on the ground in the Broncos’ first drive before hardly being involved.

McLaughlin isn’t guaranteed a regular role as Denver complicated things further by using Perine on both two-minute drills at the end of each half and employing fullback Michael Burton in two other third down occasions. Still, he showed enough in the past two contests to be of value as a playmaker.


Samaje Perine: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 16 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)

Michael Burton: 2 Carries, 2 Yards


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Courtland Sutton: 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 46 Yards, TD


The standout receiver in the Broncos corps, Sutton was terrific despite modest targets, catches and yardage for the third week running. He still managed to make an impact with a highlight-reel catch in the fourth quarter to give the Broncos a sliver of hope. Sutton shrugged off heavy attention from cornerback Jaylen Watson before expertly gaining one-handed control of the ball before sliding his knee down inbounds for the touchdown. The wideout has put himself firmly in the shop window and it may be that the opposite sideline could see him as a nice outside weapon for their quarterback down the stretch. I do!


Jerry Jeudy: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 14 Yards


Heavy pre-match chatter about a potential trade in the offing for Jeudy did not have any impact on his derisory performance on a bad night all around for Denver. Jeudy saw just five targets, a number he has seen in three of his five games so far in 2023. He doesn’t have more than seven in any game this year and any notion of him being touted as a WR1 is far fetched. Jeudy has never been effective out of the slot and this game showed his inability as an outside receiver, twice being muscled out of contested catches by Trent McDuffie.


Greg Dulcich: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 3 Yards

Chris Manhertz: 1 Target

Brandon Johnson: 2 Targets


Kansas City Chiefs




Patrick Mahomes: 30/40, 306 Yards, TD, INT, 2 Sacks | 6 Carries, 31 Yards


There was a sense of both frustration and disappointment from Mahomes throughout this contest as he failed to provide any kind of fireworks despite looking sharp in short-to-intermediate passing plays, which we a feature of the offense notably over the middle of the field. Mahomes was perfect to tight end Kelce and rookie Rashee Rice as he exposed a poor Broncos defense between the numbers. Maybe fantasy managers expected more especially when he consistently peppered Kelce with seven catches in the first half.



Mahomes did a fantastic job of connecting with his receivers on a number of broken plays, extending the time to throw from the pocket and waiting for his receivers to adjust and give him options – he connected with eight different pass catchers across the night and extended a lot of plays on third downs.

Still, he was sloppy at times and smashed his helmet down on a couple of occasions on the sideline as the Chiefs had to settle for field goals after plays Mahomes expected to work were not executed properly across the defense. A subdued night and a below-par fantasy score for Mahomes against one of the league’s worst defenses.



  • Guilty of another careless pass under pressure near the red zone – immediately after Wilson’s first quarter interception, Mahomes was stuck in the pocket on third-and-long and just lobbed the ball up to the goal line allowing Justin Simmons to intercept it
  • Rarely attempted any pass beyond 20 yards, maybe a sign of a restricted playbook given the lack of both a true outside receiver and a field-stretching deep threat

Missed opportunities

  • Nailed a fourth quarter deep ball in stride to Justin Watson, who could not hang on and ended up being injured on the play – another example that the Chiefs need another receiver
  • Careless red zone interception for the third straight game taking away points


Running Back


Isiah Pacheco: 16 Carries, 62 Yards | 6 Targets, 6 Receptions, 36 Yards


Another nice night for the newly established lead back in Kansas City, Pacheco showed his customary determined attitude and hard-running style as he dominated touches in the first half. He was rotated a little more as the Chiefs maintained a strangle-hold on the game in the third quarter but then was featured in the final scoring drive as the lead back with the game on the line. Pacheco has shown his big play ability on a number of occasions this season without big rewards and he did so again in this game.


Clyde Edwards-Helaire: 2 Carries, 7 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 9 Yards


Clyde Edwards-Who?


Jerick McKinnon: 5 Targets, 3 Receptions, 20 Yards


Not used as a runner at all, Jerick McKinnon did have a big play called back by penalty in the first half but otherwise acted as a check down option for McKinnon out of the backfield. He remains relatively unused despite his successful role in last year’s fantasy campaign.


Wide Receiver/Tight End


Travis Kelce: 9 Targets, 9 Receptions, 124 Yards


Fantasy managers to Travis Kelce – “you’re my, my, my, my…lover”! Yes, it was inevitable that a Swifty reference would make it into this article once the football was nothing to shout about. The now infamous tight end had a first half feast as he grabbed seven catches for over a 100 yards before the Chiefs offense became dysfunctional in the second half. Kelce was prolific across intermediate routes over the middle and was the first read on nearly every passing play as his productive start to the season continued.


Despite his ankle being heavily strapped, Kelce showed no signs of limitation after leaving the game against the Vikings briefly last week. The second half slow down might have been to protect his durability given the game was well and truly in hand for the majority of the time.


Rashee Rice: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 72 Yards


An increase in snaps and routes ran are promising statistics coming out of this game for Rice, who exhibited his ability to create separation in his four catches for 72 yards. His best run was an explosive 28-yard catch-and-run that brought the Chiefs inside the Broncos 10-yard line at the start of the second half. Rice has shown improving chemistry with Mahomes but without the volume or consistency of trust. That is something that needs to change if he is to become fantasy relevant.


Skyy Moore: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 22 Yards


Second-year receiver Skyy Moore once again failed to establish himself as an integral part of this offense after recording just two grabs depsite two throws being poorly placed from Mahomes. Moore did induce a 24-yard pass interference penalty on a deep ball down the middle that was provisionally intercepted but replays showed that Moore was pulled back enroute to where the ball was intercepted. Moore’s two catches mean he has just four overall in the last three games. Yikes!


Noah Gray: 1 Carry, 1 Yard | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 14 Yards

Kadarius Toney: 0/1 | 2 Carries, 0 Yards | 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 9 Yards, TD


Out of the doghouse and into the end zone, Kadarius Toney showed some progress on his way out of Chiefs purgatory with a touchdown grab on third down just before half time. Toney ran a simple inside-outside route near the goal line and Mahomes had no problem locating him as he benefitted from soft coverage. It was Toney’s second game with an uptick in touches (six targets) and his red zone look could point to a more productive time from now on. He is a FLEX option and could be a waiver wire grab as his rostered percentage in Yahoo! is just 28%.


Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 1 Target


Madness – MVS led the receivers in routes run in this game as he has done every week this season. However, he’s yet to see more than three targets in a game this season and saw jus tone pass come his way tonight which he failed to haul in.


Justin Watson: 1 Target


Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@JustParaDesigns on Twitter/X)

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