Two of the best teams this season collide in the countdown to the playoffs.
Where: Arrowhead Stadium
When: 21.25 (GMT)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky!
For the first time this season, both the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs are coming off losses, and both were more disappointing than the average NFL defeat.
The AFC West rivals will meet for the second time in three weeks Sunday in Kansas City with each looking to take control of the division and avoid another week of looking for a bounce-back game.
A number of complicated scenarios exist for each team to clinch a postseason spot with a win this week.
While the Broncos (9-2) might be feeling the majority of the disappointment after matching a franchise-record 24-point collapse Sunday in New England, the Chiefs (9-2) are likely feeling the brunt of the pressure.
They’ve dropped their first two games in consecutive weeks, including their first at home in Sunday’s last-minute 41-38 loss to San Diego. They’ve also lost consecutive games at Arrowhead Stadium to the Broncos.
The more alarming trend might be a defense that has allowed season-high point totals the last two weeks. After allowing over 17 points for the first time this season in a 27-17 loss Nov. 17 at Denver that didn’t exactly raise huge concerns, Sunday’s game certainly exposed some holes — and physically created them with injuries.
Kansas City has two sacks in its last four games after piling up 35 through its first seven. Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers combined for 715 passing yards in two weeks after the Chiefs had held each of their previous nine opponents under 300 yards through the air.
They now face Manning again, and this time around Kansas City won’t have Tamba Hali(9.0) and Justin Houston (11.0) — who account for over half of the team’s sacks — on the field together.
Hali suffered a sprained ankle last week, but he went through practice Friday without feeling pain and will play. Houston dislocated his right elbow against the Chargers and it’s unclear when he’ll return.
Coach Andy Reid said starting defensive tackle Mike DeVito will likely return after missing last week’s game with a knee injury.
The Chiefs are still best in the AFC in scoring defense, allowing 16.3 points per game. They’re also holding opponents to an NFL-low 29.1 percent on third down.
The Broncos offense, however, has been another kind of elite, averaging a league-best 451.5 yards and 39.0 points, 11.2 points ahead of No. 2 Seattle. Their 48.3 percent third-down conversion rate tops the league, as does their red-zone efficiency (78.7).
Manning is within two touchdown passes of breaking his franchise record of 37. Tying that mark Sunday likely would have helped avoid a 34-31 overtime loss to the Patriots.
He finished with a season-worst 70.4 passer rating with a season-low 19 completions on 36 attempts for a season-low 150 yards.
Matching a season-high four turnovers as a team was likely the bigger issue.