Chiefs 17

(9-1, 4-1 away)

Broncos 27

(9-1, 6-0 home)

Coverage: NBC

8:30 PM ET, November 17, 2013

Empower Field at Mile High, Denver, CO 

1 2 3 4 T
KC 0 10 0 717
DEN 10 7 7 327

Top Performers

Passing: P. Manning (DEN) - 323 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: K. Moreno (DEN) - 27 CAR, 79 YDS

Receiving: D. Thomas (DEN) - 5 REC, 121 YDS

Chiefs-Broncos Preview


Despite a sore right ankle, Peyton Manning is expected to play in the Denver Broncos' showdown with unbeaten Kansas City. So is beleaguered Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

Bowe was arrested this past weekend but is slated to start as Kansas City tries to remain the NFL's only perfect team after Sunday night's visit to Denver.

An MRI on Monday showed no additional damage to Manning's ankle, but he only participated in walkthroughs Wednesday.

"It's certainly my preference to be out (at practice), but I'm trying to do what's best for the team in order for me to get healthy," Manning said.

The Broncos star has been dealing with a sore ankle since taking hits to that area in back-to-back games last month. He took another one in a 28-20 win in San Diego this past Sunday, but interim coach Jack Del Rio said the veteran remains on track to start.

Manning will face a defense that has a league-best 36 sacks, with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali combining for 20. Denver has given up the second-fewest in the league (13), but eight have come in the last three games. The biggest concern has been at left tackle, where Chris Clark has been inconsistent since Ryan Clady was lost for the season with a foot injury.

"(Manning) will definitely play this week so that's good news," said Del Rio, who is leading the team while John Fox recovers from heart surgery. "We're definitely on high alert in wanting to protect our quarterback. We didn't do it as well as we could (against San Diego), and we have an even greater challenge this week in the team that's sacked quarterbacks more than anyone in this league."

With four touchdowns and 330 yards against San Diego, Manning remains on pace NFL single-season records in both categories. While trying to stay on target to break those marks, he'll seek to get Denver (8-1) a share of first place in the AFC West and spoil Kansas City's attempt at a franchise-best start.

The Chiefs (9-0) enjoyed their bye week but didn't emerge unscathed as Bowe's arrest Sunday could serve as a lingering distraction.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver was pulled over for speeding in Riverside, Mo., and also charged with possession of marijuana. Bowe posted $750 bond and is set to appear in court Dec. 18.

Instead of talking to reporters earlier this week, Bowe chose to apologize through a statement. The Chiefs cannot discipline one of their all-time leading wide receivers for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, and he likely won't face penalties until after his court date. There's a chance, however, that commissioner Roger Goodell could potentially hand down a one-game suspension or a fine.

'"There are rules and regulations put in place and we'll abide by the rules and regulations, and we'll make sure we take all of the information that comes out as it goes through the process," coach Andy Reid said. "That's where we're going with it."

"I addressed him, had that opportunity to talk to him, and I'll leave it at that. There are laws, rules and regulations, and I'll leave it at that."

Bowe, who signed a five-year, $56 million extension before this season, is currently on pace for one of the worst seasons in his career. His 33 receptions are second on the team behind running back Jamaal Charles' 47, and he's third in receiving yards with 369.

Bowe, however, has a combined 19 catches for 279 yards in his last two visits to Denver. He missed last season's trip due to broken ribs but enters this one after registering season highs of seven receptions and 67 yards in a 23-13 win in Buffalo on Nov. 3.

The Chiefs used defensive touchdowns from Hali and Sean Smith to match their 9-0 start from 2003 and offset a season-low 210 yards from their offense.

Alex Smith completed 65.5 percent of his passes (19 of 29) for a season-low 124 yards, and will face the Broncos for the second time in his career. He led San Francisco to a 26-23 overtime win in Denver on Dec. 31, 2006.

Charles, the league's fifth-leading rusher at 725 yards, has enjoyed recent success against the Broncos with a combined 576 yards in the last five meetings. He had a total of 160 in last season's two games but couldn't prevent Denver's first season sweep since 2007.

Manning threw for 589 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception in those two wins. His three TD passes started a streak of 31 unanswered points in a 38-3 home rout Dec. 30, and his 30-yard toss to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter Nov. 25 put the Broncos ahead for good in a 17-9 win in Kansas City.

Reid's teams, though, have been historically successful returning from byes. While in Philadelphia, he won 13 straight such games until falling to then-unbeaten Atlanta last season.

The Chiefs and Broncos will meet again in Kansas City on Dec. 1.

Passing Leaders

P. Mahomes66.348393713
C. Henne68.88200
T. Bridgewater66.93052187
D. Lock60.478722

Rushing Leaders

D. Williams1445583.96
C. Edwards-Helaire1195174.34
M. Gordon III2039184.58
J. Williams2039034.44

Receiving Leaders

T. Hill111123911.29
T. Kelce92112512.29
C. Sutton5877613.42
T. Patrick5373413.85

Team Averages & NFL Ranks

Total YardsKC
Yards PassingKC
Yards RushingKC
Yards AllowedKC
Pass Yds AllowedKC
Rush Yds AllowedKC

Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)

Denver leads 17-9
Dec 30, 2012KC 3, @DEN 38
Nov 25, 2012KC 9, DEN 17
Jan 1, 2012KC 7, @DEN 3
Nov 13, 2011KC 10, DEN 17
Dec 5, 2010KC 10, DEN 6
Nov 14, 2010KC 29, @DEN 49
Jan 3, 2010KC 44, @DEN 24
Dec 6, 2009KC 13, DEN 44
Dec 7, 2008KC 17, @DEN 24
Sep 28, 2008KC 33, DEN 19
Dec 9, 2007KC 7, @DEN 41
Nov 11, 2007KC 11, DEN 27
Nov 23, 2006KC 19, DEN 10
Sep 17, 2006KC 6, @DEN 9
Dec 4, 2005KC 31, DEN 27
Sep 26, 2005KC 10, @DEN 30
Dec 19, 2004KC 45, DEN 17
Nov 6, 2004KC 11, @DEN 17
Sep 12, 2004KC 24, @DEN 34
Dec 7, 2003KC 27, @DEN 45
Oct 5, 2003KC 24, DEN 23
Dec 15, 2002KC 24, @DEN 31
Oct 20, 2002KC 34, DEN 37
Dec 16, 2001KC 26, DEN 23
Oct 7, 2001KC 6, @DEN 20

Research Notes

Montee Ball (DEN): 2 rushing touchdowns in last 3 games after 0 in his first 7 career games.
The Chiefs sent four or fewer pass rushers against Peyton Manning on 34 of his 40 dropbacks (85%). The Chiefs didn't sack Manning and they put him under duress on only 12.5% of his dropbacks, their lowest rate in a game this season. Coming into the game, the Chiefs held opposing quarterbacks to a NFL-low 30.8 Total QBR when sending standard pressure. - The Chiefs had seven or more defenders in coverage on 85% of Manning's dropbacks. The Chiefs still couldn't contain the Broncos receivers as they had 187 yards after the catch Sunday, the most the Chiefs have given up in a game this season.
With the Broncos win over the Chiefs, both teams are tied for the lead in the AFC West at 9-1. It's the first time since 1948 that two teams in the same division started a season 9-1 or better. In the previous 4 instances, one of the teams would play in the NFL Championship game.
No team would be envious of the Broncos over the next three weeks. They face the 7-2 Patriots in Week 12. That game is bookended by a pair of games with the 9-0 Chiefs. By the time they play each game, none of their opponents will have MORE than 3 losses. According to Elias, the last time a team was able to win 3 consecutive games this late into a season (Week 10 or later) against opponents with 3 or fewer losses were the 2008 Giants Beat Eagles (5-3) in Week 10 Beat Ravens (6-3) in Week 11 Beat Cardinals (7-3) in Week 12
-Compared with its average entering the game, the Chiefs' defense was 16 points worse against the Broncos than it had been in the first 10 weeks of the season. The defense's average contribution to the Chiefs' net scoring margin had been 11.0 points, but against Peyton Manning and the Broncos it was -5.0 points. Defensive EPA measures the contributions of a defense to its team's net scoring margin by controlling field position, forcing turnovers and keeping the opponent from scoring. The Chiefs had 0 sacks for the second straight game, and they have not recorded a sack in their opponents' last 90 dropbacks.
Peyton Manning had a 66.5 Total QBR against the Chiefs, his 16th straight game with a Total QBR above 50.0. The next longest active streak in the NFL is Matthew Stafford with 5. The Broncos are 15-1 during that span, and Manning has led the NFL in the following quarterback measures:
Matt Prater (DEN): 1st missed field goal of season; including his first made attempt on Sunday, he had made 13 consecutive this season. It's his first regular season miss since Dec. 16 of last season - he had made 16 straight going back to last season.
Julius Thomas now has 10 rec TD for the Broncos. Only Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski have done that in the last 2 seasons. Thomas is the first Broncos TE to do so since Shannon Sharpe.
If Sunday's game comes down to the 4th quarter, it will involve the two best teams in the final 15 minutes this season. The Broncos have a league-high 115 points in the 4th quarter while the Chiefs have allowed a league-low 17 points in the final 15 minutes. Both of those are on pace to be the best in any 4th quarter since 2001.
The Broncos sent five or more pass rushers on 19 of Alex Smith's 51 dropbacks (37.3%). They recorded two sacks with added pressure and Smith was 4-for-16 for 55 yards against such pressure (25%), his lowest completion percentage against added pressure in a game since 2006.
For the majority of the season, the Broncos offensive line has been the best in football. Overall, Denver QBs have been pressured just 62 times (fewest in the NFL). However, 31 such plays have come in the last 3 games. Sunday night, they'll face their toughest test in the Chiefs. Kansas City's defense has the 3rd-most QB pressures this season (118), and leads the NFL in sacks (36).

ESPN Stats & Information