Two of the best teams this season will collide in week 11 action.
The Kansas City Chiefs put their 9-0 NFL record on the line Sunday against the 8-1 Denver Broncos in a mouthwatering AFC West division showdown.
The Chiefs are the only unbeaten team remaining in the NFL this season. But despite their stunning turnaround from a league-worst 2-14 campaign in 2012, they haven’t yet made believers out of everyone and the Broncos go in as favorites.
That’s largely due to the exploits of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning, a four-time NFL Most Valuable Player, who has completed 71 percent of his passes for 3,249 yards with 33 touchdowns and six interceptions so far this season.
With 371 points scored, the Broncos are the highest scoring team through nine games in NFL history.
But Manning is hurting going into the contest, missing practice this week to rest a sore ankle.
If his mobility is limited, he could be in for trouble against a Chiefs defense that leads the league in sacks, with 36, led by linebackers Justin Houston (11) and Tamba Hali (nine).
The Chiefs are the first team since the 1977 Falcons to allow 17 points or fewer in each of their first nine games.
“It’s going to be an interesting matchup for us,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said. “We’ve been playing pretty good defense. Still have a lot of stuff to work on. It’ll be interesting how this game plays out, but as long as we have one point more, that’s all that matters.”
Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith’s stats don’t approach the gaudy numbers Manning has put up.
He has thrown just nine scoring passes, but the former 49ers quarterback says he isn’t worried about that.
“Yeah, they put up a ton of stats and done all that,” he said. “For us, we’ve just got to score (enough) points.”
The Chiefs’ last game was a 23-13 victory over Buffalo on November 3.
However, their bye week was disrupted by the arrest of top receiver Dwayne Bowe, who was pulled over for speeding and also charged with possession of marijuana.
Bowe is due in court on December 18, and in the meantime is expected to play.
The week’s action kicked off on Thursday in Nashville, where Indianapolis erased an 11-point halftime deficit to beat the Tennessee Titans 30-27 in an AFC South clash.
Donald Brown rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns and Colts quarterback Andrew Luck ran for a score as Indianapolis improved to 7-3 and stretched their lead in the division to three games over the 4-6 Titans.
Other games this weekend find the Washington at Philadelphia in an NFC East showdown, the New York Jets at Buffalo, Baltimore at Chicago, Cleveland at Cincinnati, Detroit at Pittsburgh, Atlanta at Tampa Bay, Arizona at Jacksonville, Oakland at Houston, San Diego at Miami, San Francisco at New Orleans, Minnesota at Seattle, New England at Carolina and Green Bay at the New York Giants.
The Packers, their quarterback situation unsettled after the broken collarbone suffered by Aaron Rodgers, have lost two straight and will try to reverse the trend against the resurgent Giants.
New York have won three in a row after an 0-6 start to resuscitate their hopes in the lackluster NFC East.