The top record in the AFC West and the conference are up for grabs as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Denver Broncos on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium.
Denver’s overtime loss in Week 12 to New England gave Kansas City the opportunity to reclaim the AFC’s top playoff seed, and the Chiefs are likely in line for the their first postseason appearance since 2010.
However another win for the 9-2 Broncos over their division rival will all but wrap up the division, and places Kansas City in the Wild Card race with another four weeks left in the season.
Luckily for 9-2 Kansas City they have more than a three-game lead over 6-6 Baltimore, and rest of the AFC Wild Card picture is littered with 5-6 clubs.
Denver handed the Chiefs their first loss of the season two weeks ago with a 27-17 victory, by keeping quarterback Peyton Manning upright in the pocket. The Broncos offensive line didn’t allow a single sack or hit on the MVP frontrunner against a Chiefs pass rush that’s second in the league with 37 sacks.
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Kansas City’s defense couldn’t regain its footing the following week, letting up 31 second half points and 491 total offensive yards to San Diego in a 41-38 home loss.
However the Chiefs offense was able to put up a season-high 38 points, with quarterback Alex Smith tossing three touchdowns for just the second game this season, and top running back Jamaal Charles gaining 115 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries.
Linebacker Tamba Hali has reportedly said he will play against Denver on Sunday, despite being listed as questionable with a bad ankle. Hali’s 9.0 sacks are second on the team behind linebacker Justin Houston, and the Chiefs will need both to breakthrough Denver’s o-line.
The Chiefs will also have to worry about tackle Eric Fisher and guard Jon Asamoah, who are both listed as questionable. The starting o-linemen have held down the right side of Kansas City’s offense all season, and a lack of production from either could limit Charles’s effectiveness.
The Broncos will need more from a defense that gave 34 points in the second half and overtime combined against New England. Denver allowed the Patriots to score on five consecutive possessions despite its offense gaining a season-high 280 rushing yards.
Denver did recover three fumbles, including one returned 60 yards by linebacker Von Miller in the first quarter. Miller looked sharp in his best game of the season since returning from suspension with 2.0 sacks and six total tackles.
Denver’s 30th ranked secondary shoot get a huge boost with corner back Champ Bailey set to return. Due to a foot injury, Bailey hasn’t played since the Indianapolis loss in Week Seven, and has only appeared in two games this season making eight combined tackles.
Betting Odds: Denver is favored by 6.5 points
Over/Under: 49 points
Time: Saturday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Online Stream Info: NFL Sunday Ticket
Prediction: Kansas City 27, Denver 24