The Kansas City Chiefs have a chance to tie the Denver Broncos for first place, when the two rivals face off in Week 13. While the Broncos look to extend their AFC West lead with their elite offense, the Chiefs hope to move up in the standings with one of the league’s best defenses.
Denver relies on scoring a lot of points to get wins, losing all three games in which they’ve failed to score more than three touchdowns. Kansas City’s No.2 scoring defense has propelled them to a 7-4 record, but they are 0-4 when allowing more than 20 points. The over/under is 49.5 points at Las Vegas casinos.
The two teams met earlier in the season, and Denver came away with a 24-17 victory in Week 2. The Chiefs are 1.5-point underdogs at home, and it will be difficult for them to split the season series with the Broncos.
In order for Kansas City to upset Denver, they’ll have to slow down Peyton Manning. The quarterback has posted a passer rating of less than 110.2 just three times in 2014, and all of those contests have resulted in losses for the Broncos.
The Chiefs have been terrific at getting pressure on the quarterback, ranking fourth with 31 sacks, but Manning has done an even better job of staying on his feet. The five-time MVP has been sacked just 12 times, tying him for 30th in the NFL. Kansas City has had a few big games against opposing quarterbacks, most notably Tom Brady, who was sacked twice and threw three interceptions in a 41-14 loss for the New England Patriots.
While the Chiefs allow the second-fewest passing yards per game, they haven’t exactly been dominant against the pass. Opposing quarterbacks have a 90.1 passer rating against Kansas City, ranking the Chiefs 17th in the league. Manning was terrific against Kansas City in Week 2, completing 21 of 26 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns. He has never lost to the Chiefs as a member of the Broncos.
Kansas City likely ranks second in total pass defense because teams have had so much success running the ball when they play the Chiefs. The Chiefs rank 26th in rushing yards allowed, but they are the worst in the league, allowing opponents to average 5.0 yards per carry. Kansas City allowed Oakland to rush for 179 yards when the Raiders got their first win last week. Despite that performance, Oakland remains the worst running team in football.
The Broncos haven’t been able to win when struggling to run the ball, rushing 47 times for just 107 yards in their three defeats. They’re averaging over 124 rushing yards per game in their victories, and should be able to move the ball on the ground this Sunday.
With Denver likely to have success on the ground, Kansas City could be in trouble if the Broncos jump out to an early lead. Alex Smith has been a terrific game manager at quarterback, but he hasn’t been asked to make a lot of big plays. He’s thrown for fewer than 200 yards in the Chiefs’ last three wins, and still hasn’t completed a touchdown pass to a wide receiver.
Jamaal Charles and his 5.1 yards per carry should help the Chiefs move the ball, but the Broncos rank second in rushing yards allowed per game (75.5) and opponents’ yards per carry (3.4). Opponents average 108.7 rushing yards per game in Denver losses.
PREDICTION: Denver over Kansas City, 30-20