The 3-0 Chiefs are one of the hottest teams in the league. If the 2-1 Broncos were to upset the Chiefs on Monday night, they could take first place in the division. If that is to happen, their cornerbacks and receivers will have to win their player matchups. Specifically, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. will have to find a way to contain wide receiver Tyreek Hill, cornerback Bradley Roby will have to mitigate wide receiver Sammy Watkins, and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will have to dominate cornerback Kendall Fuller. How likely is this to happen in Chiefs at Broncos? Who has the edge?
3 Player Matchups To Watch In Chiefs At Broncos
Chris Harris Jr. Vs Tyreek Hill
Cornerback Chris Harris should be matched up with the Chiefs’ best receiver in Tyreek “The Freak” Hill.
Harris is 5’ 10’’ and weighs in at 199 pounds. Hill is also 5’ 10’’, and a little lighter at 185. In a jump-ball situation, Harris should have the advantage as he is heavier, but both players remain relatively equal here.
Hill is 24 and Harris is 29. While Hill still has half of a decade in his prime, Chris Harris is just starting to hit the downhill stage of his career. That is not to say that Chris Harris is suddenly ancient and therefore inept but his age could still have a small impact on his ability to perform. Hill doesn’t have to worry about age and therefore wins the comparison.
Hill’s speed is his biggest asset as he can run a 40-yard dash in 4.23 seconds. On the other side, Harris was a quarter of a second slower, finishing his 40 at 4.48. Suffice it to say that if Hill were to run a deep streak down the field with only Chris Harris to stop him, Harris would be about a full step behind him after 40 yards, leaving him wide open for a huge reception.
Finally, Pro Football Focus has Harris rated as a “good” player, and the 40th-best cornerback in the NFL. Hill, on the other hand, is currently ranked as a “high-quality” wide receiver and third best in the NFL. The distance between Harris and Hill is a bit far according to these rankings, but the message that Hill is a step better than Harris is correct.
Overall, Harris is outmatched by Hill in every way except for size and experience. Hill is faster, younger and — unless Harris is given help — will likely get burned a few times during the game. That being said, if Harris is able to get in position, he will have a great shot at an interception or a swat. Hill is currently averaging 103 yards and a touchdown per game and while he will still likely end the game with a strong stat line, he might fall short of that average.
Bradley Roby vs Sammy Watkins
Cornerback Bradley Roby and receiver Sammy Watkins are expected to face off during the majority of the game. In the end, the winner of this matchup could decide the game.
Watkins is 6’ 1’’ and weighs 205 pounds. Compared to Roby’s 5’ 11’’, 192-pound stature, Watkins has a clear edge in jump-ball situations.
However, Watkins’ 4.43 40-yard dash matches up very evenly with Roby’s at 4.39 seconds. This means that Roby could compete for every other throw outside of jump-balls if he’s in position.
Also, at 25 and 26 years old, both Watkins and Roby are in the prime of their careers, also declaring this an effective tie.
Pro Football Focus has Watkins rated as an “above average” wide receiver and 37th-best in the league. Conversely, Roby is rated as an “average” cornerback, 98th-best in the league at that position. Pro Football Focus is thorough in rating each player, and is correct in essentially placing Roby as an underdog.
In the end, Watkins is the favorite in this matchup due to his superior size and skill. This is Roby’s first season as the second cornerback (he was previously the number three) while Watkins has been a first and second-string player for his entire career. Watkins has been averaging roughly 60 yards per game, and should exceed that number this week if Roby doesn’t get any help.
Demaryius Thomas Vs Kendall Fuller
With Watkins and Hill expected to produce at a good-to-high level on Monday night, Kansas City is poised to repeat its passing performance of the last several weeks. If Denver wants to win this game, they’ll need to be able to strike back. Can Thomas get it done?
At 6’3’’ and 236 pounds, Demaryius Thomas is much larger and heavier than Kendall Fuller’s 5’11’’, 194-pound frame. This means in jump-ball situations, Thomas should be able to outstretch and outmuscle Fuller every time. Also, with a 4.38 40-yard dash speed, Thomas should be able to outrun Fuller’s 4.48 speed on deep routes.
However, at 30, Thomas’ regression is becoming a very real factor. Compared to the 23-year old Fuller, Thomas is at a disadvantage in this regard.
According to Pro Football Focus, Thomas and Fuller could not be more evenly matched as they are both ranked at 43rd overall at their respective positions and rated as “above average.”
While Pro Football Focus might appear to call this a perfectly even battle, Thomas has the edge in size, speed, and experience. The only real concern for Thomas would be his age, but it shouldn’t be a deciding factor in this battle. To this point, Thomas has averaged almost 50 yards per game. Thomas will beat this average by a sizable margin on Monday night.
How Will These Battles Decide The Game?
If the 2-1 Broncos were to upset the Chiefs on Monday night, they could take first place in the division. If that is to happen, their cornerbacks and receivers will have to win their player matchups.
All three of these matchups favor the wide receiver. Therefore, the Chiefs should expect to be in their fourth shootout in four weeks. However, this Broncos pass rush is the best that quarterback Patrick Mahomes has faced and if they’re able to pressure him, the idea of a shootout would fly out of the window. Conversely, if quarterback Case Keenum continues to play like he has in past weeks, the Chiefs could run away with a victory. In the end, the Broncos want a slower paced game while the Chiefs want a shootout. How will the game actually play out? It’s up to the players.