GAMETIME: 3:25 p.m. CST on Sunday, November 15LOCATION: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver, Colo.HOW TO WATCH:CBS | KCTV5 LocalHOW TO LISTEN:101.1 The FoxCHIEFS REWIND WRAP-UP SHOW:Local listingsGAMCENTER: Chiefs.com
Momentum swings in the NFL can happen game by game, but the beautiful thing is that the way in which the league schedule is built, opportunity comes twice when it comes to in-division rivals. The second meeting between the Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) and Denver Broncos (7-1) happens this Sunday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.
With little time left at Arrowhead Stadium in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football, the Chiefs led the Broncos by one touchdown in the two teams' first matchup this year.
If the Denver was to win the game, quarterback Peyton Manning would have to successfully execute a two-minute drill in order to force overtime.
Manning did just that, but as it turned out, the Broncos wouldn't need overtime. A fumble recovery for a touchdown on the ensuing Chiefs possession resulted in a 31-24 Denver victory.
The win began a seven-game win streak for the Broncos and started a five-game losing streak for the Chiefs, but head coach Andy Reid told the media this week he isn't looking back.
"Listen, they got us," he explained. "I said that after the game — they won the game — that's all that counts. So you move on and get yourself ready for this game."
As Reid does that, it appears the two teams may be beginning to trend in different directions.
The Chiefs enter their second game against the Broncos on a two-game winning streak, while Denver is coming off their first loss of the season to the Indianapolis Colts.
A major point to watch in this game will be how effective quarterback Alex Smith and the Chiefs offense can be against a Denver team that boasts the best defense in the NFL at 274.1 yards allowed per game.
As Manning has thrown a league-high 13 interceptions as part of an offense ranked 22 in the NFL based on yards per game, it's been the defense that has led the Broncos to such an outstanding record.
"They're really good," Smith said this week, "very, very, very good. I don't want to get into comparing them to anyone else, but there are not many weaknesses on that side of the ball. They're very good up front, they get after the passer, they're physical, they're good at the linebacker level and really good on the back end.
"They're all playing together, you can see that. It certainly will be a big challenge for us."
Smith's recent play before last week's bye could give his team the confidence it needs to meet the challenge. Smith has 4 total touchdowns in the two wins and his current streak of 197 passes without an interception stands as the league's best.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin (61) and tight end Travis Kelce (55) have been Smith's two most targeted Chiefs through the season's first half.
The Chiefs will be with without left guard Ben Grubbs (neck) for the second week in a row, which means Kansas City will roll with the offensive line combination of left tackle Eric Fisher, left guard Jeff Allen, center Mitch Morse, right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and right tackle Jah Reid once again. Morse still stands as the only Chiefs player to participate in every offensive snap for the team this year.
Running back Charcandrick West will hope to build upon the last two weeks, over which he's ran for a combined 207 yards on the ground with 2 touchdowns. West revealed this week that injured RB Jamaal Charles has been a huge help to him as he embraces his starting role.
"Coming from college, a lot of guys just experience a big blitz pickup," West explained, "but [Charles] taught me how to read this safety coming down, who's coming with him. He just taught me a lot."
The Broncos defense will face the Chiefs offense without two of its key components in cornerback Aqib Talib and linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Talib is suspended due to an eye gouge last week against the Colts, the same game in which Ware reinjured his back.
Talib could prove to be a critical loss for the Broncos as he has intercepted opposing quarterbacks 3 times this year, including 2 for touchdowns. Bradley Roby, who has three career starts, is expected to fill in Talib's vacant spot.
"We've played against him the last couple of seasons and he's a guy that's got a lot of reps under his belt," Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson said of Roby this week. "He's a young player, but he's good in their man-to-man stuff. He's an aggressive guy that will come up and hit you. He's good in coverage and he's a guy that, I think, fills in nicely for them.
"It's a big loss with Talib, he's a great player, he's the type of corner that's having a great season – he's a Pro Bowl-type guy. It's hard to replace guys like that. But, in their case, like it would be in our case, their next guy steps up and goes and plays."
The Chiefs defense, on the other side of the ball, will face Manning and the Broncos offense without defensive end Allen Bailey, who tweaked his calf near the end of this week. A rotating combination of Mike DeVito, Jaye Howard and Nicholas Williams will likely fill the void.
LAST TIME THEY MET
Photos from the Chiefs home opener matchup against the Denver Broncos
Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Marcus Peters will be tasked with defending Manning's favorite targets in WRs Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, who have combined for 5 touchdowns receiving this season. TE Owen Daniels and newly acquired TE Vernon Davis will also be in the mix, especially if Sanders can't go (he's officially listed as questionable with a foot injury).
Peters, the rookie who leads the Chiefs with 3 interceptions through eight games, explained this week where his self-conviction comes from.
"You have to be confident," he explained. "You have to understand and know who you are as a player. You're going to get beat sometimes; it's going to happen. I put a number in my head. Two out of three times, I'm going to get your interception. It's just there. It's just me. I have that self-confidence in myself and I understand who I am as a player."
Peters will try to utilize that self-confidence as the Chiefs aim to defeat a Broncos team for the first time in their last eight regular season games against them.
Looking back, Peters and the Chiefs understand just how close they came in Arrowhead Stadium earlier this season, but the way they collectively see it, Sunday's a new day.
"It should be a great atmosphere for a football game," Reid said Friday. "Weather's going to be good, the stadium's going to be packed. They're wearing orange, we're wearing red, let's play. Let's go."
He's ready to put game one behind him. Now the question is whether the Chiefs can follow suit and leave Mile High with a win.