3 things to watch

The Denver Post - - SPORTS -

1. Clean foot­ball

Sun­day’s con­di­tions – ex­pected to be rainy and windy – of­ten lead to an in­crease in turnovers. The Chiefs are se­cond in the NFL head­ing into Week 16 with a plus-13 turnover mar­gin due to their rel­a­tively low num­ber of give­aways (15) and an NFL-lead­ing 28 take­aways. The Bron­cos have a plustwo turnover mar­gin, but they’ve won a NFL-best 29 con­sec­u­tive games when win­ning the turnover bat­tle.

2. Win­ning third downs

The Bron­cos’ three-and-outs are killing the of­fense. Kansas City and Den­ver are in the bot­tom­seven in third-down con­ver­sion per­cent­age. The Chiefs also are in the bot­tom four de­fen­sively at stop­ping third-down con­ver­sions, which could present an op­por­tu­nity for Den­ver to right its of­fense. Run­ning the ball ef­fec­tively on early downs is a ma­jor key for both teams.

3. Ef­fort level

A lot has been made about the of­fense vs. de­fense dis­pute following their loss to Pa­tri­ots, but the Bron­cos have down­played any di­vide in the lock­er­room. It’ll be in­ter­est­ing to see what their en­ergy level is go­ing into their show­down with the Chiefs. If their of­fense strug­gles out of the gate once again, will the de­fense keep up with their high level of play? There’s plenty to play for, but not if the re­sult seems in­evitable due to an­other poor show­ing by the of­fense.

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