Chiefs vs. Broncos: Game Preview

The Chiefs look to improve to 2-0 in their home opener against the Broncos

GAMETIME: 7:25 p.m. CST on Thursday, September 17

LOCATION: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.

HOW TO WATCH: CBS (KCTV5 local) | NFL Network

HOW TO LISTEN: 101.1 The Fox

CHIEFS REWIND WRAP-UP SHOW: Local listings

GAMCENTER: Chiefs.com

Three years ago, during the 2012 offseason, quarterback Peyton Manning left the Indianapolis Colts and signed with the Denver Broncos (1-0).

Since then, the Manning-led Broncos have won the AFC West division each year, compiling an undefeated 6-0 record against the Kansas City Chiefs (1-0) en route.

Enter this season.

In 2015, there's a palpable feeling of something different in the air—one that this could be the year that the pendulum finally swings in the other direction.

Any hope of that happening begins when the Chiefs host the Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium in a nationally televised game on what Kansas City has dubbed "Red Thursday" night.

"They've beaten us every time," Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said this week. "We've gone in [and] two times having fourth-and-goal and the chance to win the game and didn't get it done. We talk about what we want to do in winning the division and going to the playoffs, and it starts with your division and these guys are on top."

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Smith was 22 for 33 for 243 yards passing and 3 touchdowns in the Week 1 win against the Houston Texans, a game that featured an abundance of downfield opportunities.

His two favorite targets in the game were wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who finished with 5 receptions for 52 yards, and tight end Travis Kelce, who finished with 6 receptions for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"He was money all day," Kelce said of Smith after the game. "When he's playing lights out and the offensive line is blocking like they were today, we're a pretty solid football team."

The offensive line is an area that has been under the spotlight since the beginning of this past offseason for the Chiefs. In last week's game, even though every starter along the O-line was different from last year, the unit played well enough against a Texans front seven featuring J.J. Watt and a returning Jadeveon Clowney to lead the Chiefs to 27 points and a victory.

Specifically at the right tackle position, Chiefs newcomer Jah Reid excelled as a starter despite being signed just six days prior to the game.

"For being here for such a short period of time, you've got to take your hat off to him for getting in there and playing the way he did," head coach Andy Reid said after the game.

This week, the challenges continue for the O-line in Pro Bowl linebackers Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware, whose relentless pressure helped in keeping Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to just 117 yards passing in Week 1.

"We're going to again see two of the premiere, elite, top pass rushers in the National Football League," offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of Miller and Ware. "It just seems like every week we're faced with that challenge. Our guys did a nice job against Houston [last Sunday] and we look forward to the same type of effort this week."

Denver cornerback Aqib Talib, who scored the only touchdown of the game on an interception of Flacco late in the third quarter, complements Ware and Miller in the backfield.

As for the Chiefs defense, there will be a number of emotional home returns Thursday night.

As LB Derrick Johnson and defensive lineman Mike DeVito return to Arrowhead Stadium for their first regular season play since being injured during Week 1 last season, so too does safety Eric Berry, who will play in front of the Kansas City fan base for the first time since successfully defeating Hodkin's lymphoma.

Along with those comebacks, Thursday night marks the first career home game for first-round pick Marcus Peters, who in the first professional snap of his career last week, recorded an interception off of Texans QB Brian Hoyer that resulted in a touchdown.

"It doesn't get any better than this," Peters said. "It's primetime. This is a division game, going out there in front of Arrowhead, knowing each time you're going to play ball. I lean on everybody that's on this defense and on the team. We have to lean on each other, it's a team game at the end of the day."

On Thursday night, as the nation watches, Peters and the Chiefs defense will look to do something that the Andy Reid regime has yet to accomplish in its Kansas City tenure—stop Manning from winning the ball game.

If they can do that in front of a raucous Arrowhead Stadium crowd, they'll carry a great deal of momentum and at least an early tie for the division lead into Green Bay next Monday night.

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