The Kansas City Chiefs know that there is a chance that this could be the last time they face arch-nemesis/super-villain/quarterback Peyton Manning ever again. As in, for the rest of eternity. With one more win and four yards passing, Manning will own almost every significant career quarterbacking record and, considering his extremely sub-par play this year(for him, at least), he could decide to retire and slink off like Gollum to his cave with his armful of records and one Super Bowl ring – otherwise known as his “Precious”.
Oh, who are we kidding … he’ll either take over the Indianapolis Colts front office or continue his quest to become the spokesman for every product ever sold. But the point is that the Chiefs may not have to face the man that currently owns a 14-1 record against them ever again barring a surprising playoff appearance by KC. If nothing else, that is worth celebrating.
But before that, Manning gets one more chance to rip the hearts out of the Chiefs at Sports Authority Field with a 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff Sunday. The game will be televised on CBS (KCTV5 locally) and broadcast over the Chiefs Radio Network or 1340-AM La Gran D Radio for the Spanish-speaking audience.
So while you prepare your big pot of chili and chicken wings for your watch party – as well as sharpening your pins to stick in your Manning Voodoo Doll, here are three ways the Chiefs can beat the Broncos:
1. No turnovers. Duh. And by “no turnovers”, I mean none, nada, zip, uh-uh, nope. Not one.
2. Andy Reid and Doug Pederson spent the bye week putting some pizzazz into the offensive play-calling. The Broncos defense is ultra-aggressive under coordinator Wade Phillips, especially at home. With two weeks to prepare, Reid and offensive coordinator Pederson hopefully added some misdirection plays that will take advantage of a defense that flocks to the ball. Not that they need to pull out trick plays every other down, but running some plays and formations that they haven’t shown yet this season might slow the Broncos down for just a second, which could mean the difference between Alex Smith getting sacked or completing a 15-yard pass that keeps the chains moving.
3. Punch the bully in the mouth. The Broncos know they are in the Chiefs heads and they play with swagger. It’s just like when Kansas City played the Raiders during the Marty Schottenheimer years when Marty’s boys won 18 of 21 contests. KC needs to start playing to win against Denver and stop playing to keep it close and hope something good happens. The Broncos are a very good team, no doubt, but they were extremely lucky early in the season with their defense winning several close games. They lost last week when an Indianapolis Colts team refused to back down and handed Denver their first loss after seven straight wins.
In the NFL, even good teams with obvious flaws (Denver’s underwhelming offense, key injuries and suspensions keeping players out of Sunday’s game) that lose their first game after a long winning streak sometimes lose a second game before regaining their balance. All the signs are there for the Chiefs to take advantage, but they’ll have to play one of their better games of the year to do it.
Bottom Line: If the Chiefs can remember how well they played in the Week 2 loss – other than the killer turnovers and some horrible tackling during Denver’s game-tying two-minute drill in the fourth quarter – they should be able to keep Denver’s offense in check. Honestly, this game is all about how well the Chiefs offense can move the ball against the Bronco defense and that puts the burden on Alex Smith. A win Sunday could be a career-defining moment or another poor performance against Denver. I might be the only one who will put it in print, but I believe the Chiefs get their second win against Peyton in a close one.
Chiefs – 23, Broncos – 19