KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (9-0) at DENVER BRONCOS (8-1)
The Chiefs look to remain undefeated when they visit Peyton Manning and the 8-1 Broncos on Sunday night.
Kansas City improved to 9-0 before its Week 10 bye while Denver went to San Diego and defeated the Chargers 28-20. So far this season, the Chiefs have gone 6-3 ATS, while the Broncos are 5-3-1 ATS. Last season, Denver swept K.C., but was just 1-1 ATS. The Broncos are 10-2 SU (8-4 ATS) in the past dozen home games in this series, but the Chiefs are a much different team this year than they have been in the past and are well-rested while Denver's star QB Peyton Manning is dealing with sore ankles. In the past two seasons, the Broncos are 13-4 ATS in games played on a grass field, and 11-3 as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points. However, since 1992, Kansas City is 25-12 ATS in road games after scoring three points or less in the first half of its previous game, and 24-11 ATS on the road versus bad defenses (24+ PPG allowed). Star CB Champ Bailey (foot) and S Duke Ihenacho (knee) are both listed as questionable for the Broncos, while the Chiefs are healthy coming off a bye, and top WR Dwayne Bowe will start despite being arrested on marijuana charges earlier this week.
The Chiefs have not lost a game this season and that is mostly because of their defense and rushing attack. The Kansas City defense has allowed an NFL-low 12.3 PPG this season, while also leading the league in third downs (25.8percent), red-zone efficiency (23.1percent) and sacks (36). It has held opposing teams to just 208.3 passing YPG (6th in NFL), but the run defense has been poor, allowing 118.6 YPG (24th in NFL) on 5.0 yards per carry (2nd-worst in league). The Chiefs' gaudy defensive numbers have a lot do with their offense staying on the field for 32:14 (6th in NFL). The Chiefs are rushing for 119.0 yards per game (12th in NFL), led by RB Jamaal Charles, who has rushed for 725 yards and six touchdowns this season. He has also caught 47 passes for 389 yards and two touchdowns. The Chiefs will need Charles to be on his game on Sunday as they will need to keep Peyton Manning and company off the field. QB Alex Smith will be relied on to do what he does best, and that is to manage the football game. Smith has completed 60percent of his throws for 1,919 yards (6.1 YPA) with nine touchdowns, but just four interceptions this season. He doesnt turn the ball over (zero lost fumbles) and he is actually capable of making plays with his legs when the play breaks down. Smith has rushed for 265 yards and a touchdown on the season. The Chiefs will need to execute their game plan perfectly to beat the Broncos, but so far this season they have done just that.
Denver escaped San Diego last week with a 28-20 victory behind 330 yards and four touchdowns through the air from QB Peyton Manning. The veteran signal caller, who injured both ankles in the game, will play against Kansas City despite being banged up. He has thrown for 3,249 yards (8.8 YPA), 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions this season. Over the past three games, WR Demaryius Thomas has really come on strong for the Broncos with at least 75 yards and a touchdown in all three. Against the Chargers, he caught seven passes for 108 yards and three touchdowns. TE Julius Thomas also continued his dominant play for Denver with three catches for 96 yards and a touchdown in last week's win. Both Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas have nine touchdowns on the year, as does WR Wes Welker. Denver must run the ball better, however, as Knowshown Moreno has rushed for only 190 yards on 3.3 YPC in the past four games. His struggles are a big reason why the Broncos rank 26th in the NFL in yards per carry (3.7). Their defense has a good matchup against the Chiefs, as Kansas City is not likely to beat them through the air. Denvers defense is allowing just 87.0 yards per game on the ground (4th in NFL) on 3.5 YPC (2nd in league), but has surrendered 287.9 YPG through the air (3rd-worst in NFL). The matchup of Denvers rushing defense and Kansas Citys ground attack will be interesting to watch. Both of these teams are strongest on offense where the opposing team is strongest on defense.