The Denver Broncos will face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday at Invesco Field at Mile High with both teams in very different places.
The Chiefs are leading the division at 5-3, rebounding from a 4-12 2009 season that saw them finish in last place in the AFC West.
The Broncos, on the other hand, went into their bye week on a four-game losing streak and sit in last place in the AFC West at 2-6.
But perhaps the most glaring difference between the two teams is how they do one specific thing: run the football.
The Broncos come in the game ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing with 538 yards, or just over 67 yards per game.
Denver has no 100-yard rushers in any game this year and only one back who has rushed for more than 100 yards on the season, Knowshon Moreno, who has rushed for 252 yards.
The Chiefs lead the NFL in rushing offense with 1,437 yards, nearly 180 yards per game, and have two runners on pace for more than 1,000 yards rushing for the season.
Thomas Jones and Jamaal Charles provide a one-two punch better than anyone in the league as Jones wears a defense down with his tough running and Charles comes in for the big play.
Jones has rushed for 570 yards, while Charles leads the team with 719 yards.
“They have a sound attack. When you have two backs capable of doing what they do — we know Charles, with his outside ability, but you can’t sleep on Jones, who has been one of the leaders in rushing yards for the last couple of years. They have a potent attack,” Broncos safety Brian Dawkins said.
Last season, the Broncos got a first-hand view of how potent the Chiefs’ rushing attack could be as Charles torched the Broncos for 256 yards on 25 carries in the regular season finale as the Chiefs crushed the Broncos 44-24 at Invesco Field.
Now the Broncos will look to return the favor, but they will need to step up in the run game to have a chance at knocking off the Chiefs.
The key to this will be getting Moreno on track and get him into the offense early in the game.
“I think that we’d like to get him going. That’s an important part for us, coming off the first half of the year; we didn’t get that phase of our team going, in general. I think he’s an important part of getting (the run game) going in the right direction. We’re going to definitely try to do that and the other guys will be in there too,” head coach Josh McDaniels said.
Those other guys are Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter, who holds the last 100-yard rushing game for the Broncos. It came against the Chiefs last season in Kansas City as he rushed for 113 yards in a 44-13 romp.
But if the Broncos cannot run the ball, they could be in for a tough day and their defense will likely be on the field for most of the game.