GAME OF THE WEEK: Unbeaten Broncos, Chiefs meet
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's a lot more to Sunday's major AFC West matchup than a mere showdown between unbeaten teams going head-to-head for first place.
Denver (4-0) vs. Kansas City (4-0) also features the highest-scoring team in the NFL against point-producer No. 4; a kick returner on a historic hot streak; and a new Broncos quarterback whose stats could bring John Elway to mind.
It's also the renewal of a long and spirited rivalry going back to 1960, one that's taken the last two games at Arrowhead Stadium into overtime.
Running the ball for Kansas City will be Priest Holmes, last year's NFL Offensive Player of the Year. Running for Denver, provided a chest bruise has healed, will be the 2002 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Clinton Portis.
And if all that's not enough, it's also a battle of wits between two of coaching's most respected men: Denver's Mike Shanahan and Kansas City's Dick Vermeil, who chalked up career victory No. 100 within minutes of each other last week.
"I'm just hoping that I get to 101 quicker than he does," Shanahan quipped.
A game like this pumps extra adrenaline into players and coaches.
"I've been here for several years now, and this is undoubtedly the biggest game I've played in," Chiefs defensive end Eric Hicks said.
Kansas City's defense, greatly improved from the unit that finished last in the league a year ago, will be facing a quarterback who is yet to lose in a Denver uniform. Jake Plummer, after a miserable day against Cincinnati in the opener, has thrown seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions the last three games.
His completion percentages have been .692, .667 and .735, the best three-game stretch for a Denver passer since Elway in the final game of 1993 and the first two of '94.
"I love big games," Plummer said.
Not all his memories of an extra-loud Arrowhead Stadium are good, however. In a 49-0 Kansas City victory last year over the Arizona Cardinals, he threw for only 88 yards while getting intercepted three times.
"It was ugly," Plummer said. "Like I repeatedly said, I've kind of forgotten what's all happened in the past, learned from it and got ready to move on.
"I'm feeling good out there. There's still plays that I know I can make. I've said it a few times -- stats don't really matter to me. It's making the plays for this team and doing the right things."
Chiefs cornerback Dexter McCleon, who had two interceptions against Baltimore last week, saw much of Plummer while playing for St. Louis.
"Jake's a crafty guy," McCleon said. "He's a guy you must stop early in the game and not let him get his confidence up and get rolling. What he did here last year means nothing, nothing at all."
Using an array of weapons, the Chiefs will be taking aim at the first 5-0 start in team history. Even with Trent Green throwing five interceptions and only four TD passes, they're averaging almost 38 points a game.
The Broncos are averaging almost 30.
The Chiefs' scoring would be down considerably if not for the remarkable Dante Hall, who has set an NFL record with kick returns for touchdowns in three straight games.
The 5-foot-8 Hall keeps talking about how great his blocking has been, and it's not just false modesty. The return unit did such a strong job on his 97-yard kickoff return against Baltimore last week the only man he had to juke was the kicker.
"It's partially due to the 10 other guys in the return team and partially due to Dante Hall. I also told them that I expect them to do it again," Vermeil said.
The Broncos are well-acquainted with Hall, who burned them last year in Denver for touchdown pass plays of 75 and 49 yards.
"He's one of those rare athletes that can do things with the ball in his hands that other people can't do," Shanahan said.
All coaches now must consider trying to kick the ball away from Hall every time. But putting it out of bounds on a kickoff gives the Chiefs the ball at their 40. Trying to punt it out of bounds can result in a shank.
"If you start angling to the corner and you get a pressure off one side, it's a possible block," Shanahan said. "What you'd like a guy to do is kick it awful high, where he's got to fair-catch it. Then you say that and the ball starts coming back to the punter. You've got a 20-yarder."
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index