Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
The Denver Broncos are hoping to take a stranglehold on the AFC West on Sunday, with a game against the rival Kansas City Chiefs.
The Denver Broncos have already swept their season series against the San Diego Chargers, the only team that has a chance to contend with them for the AFC West crown this season. It might be all the Kansas City Chiefs can do to make this game interesting from a rival standpoint, as its about as irrelevant as you can get from a standings perspective.
Denver is 7-3 on the season, with wins over teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New Orleans Saints, while the Chiefs are 1-9 with losses to teams like the Oakland Raiders and Buffalo Bills. It's a gigantic disparity in record and relevance. The Broncos are expected to win games like this, and given that their losses are to some of the top teams in the NFL, it's all the more important that they win these "easy" games.
Though the AFC isn't as strong as the NFC this season, the Chiefs can only snare a 7-9 record at best, and that's not likely to earn them a playoff berth. The rivalry aspect of this game might be the only thing they have to fight for on Sunday.
Meet the Chiefs
The Chiefs are the new really bad team in the NFL, sporting a 1-9 record and a generally miserable season with few high points. Those high points include an overtime victory over the New Orleans Saints in Week 3 and a narrow overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 10. That game against Pittsburgh was the first time the Chiefs held a lead in regulation all season.
They're averaging just 12 points per game and they've lost seven games in a row. They've managed just 166 passing yards per game on average over the last five games. Last Sunday, they managed to only convert one third down, and put up a paltry 284 yards of offense. They've made the switch back to quarterback Brady Quinn over Matt Cassel, though neither inspires much confidence.
Meet the Broncos
The Denver Broncos were awarded instant legitimacy and contender status with the signing of quarterback Peyton Manning, provided he could stay healthy. Well, he's been plenty healthy, and the Broncos are first in the AFC West by a healthy margin, especially after sweeping the season series against the San Diego Chargers.
That being said, last week's game against San Diego wasn't without its caveats. Starting running back Willis McGahee went down with an injury after he was tackled low by the Chargers, and the Broncos placed him on injured reserve with a torn MCL.
Rookie Ronnie Hillman, former first-rounder Knowshon Moreno and Lance Ball will carry the load going forward, though the three has combined for just 297 yards and two touchdowns on 82 carries this season. Fortunately for the Broncos, they boast a very tough defense, headlined by the NFL's No. 2 pass rusher, Von Miller. He trails only San Francisco's Aldon Smith, and has 13 on the season.
Local Takes: Chiefs
Albert was playing at an extremely high level this year, giving up only one sack all season, so this will be a big change for the Chiefs. They have to neutralize Miller and Dumervil. They should be chipped by a back or a tight end on every single play. No one-on-one matchups. This will affect the game plan greatly but they can not let those two linebackers dictate this game.
Local Takes: Broncos
Scotty Payne of Mile High Report takes a look at both team's defenses, and he talks about the linebackers for Denver and why they hold an advantage.
The Broncos should have 2 Pro Bowlers at linebacker. OLB Wesley Woodyard is having a breakout year. On the year Woodyard has 88 tackles 3 sacks, and 3 Ints. Opposite of him is stud pass rusher Von Miller. On the year Miller has 45 tackles and 13 sacks. Miller has put up back to back 3 sack performances and looks to continue that this week.
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Yes, it's possible for the Chiefs to win (but still unlikely) sbn.to/Tis7W2— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) November 24, 2012
From Joel Thorman's Week 12 NFL picks:
Do we have to play this game? My Chiefs are the worst-ranked offense, the fifth-worst defense and losers of seven in a row. The Broncos have picked up victories in five straight weeks, have the second-ranked offense and 11th-ranked defense. So, when you put it like that, this pick is pretty easy.
The pick: 33-13, Broncos
According to OddsShark, the Broncos opened up as seven-point favorites, but you can now find them as high as 12-point favorites on some odd sites. The over/under for the game is right around 44 points, most of which will likely come from the Broncos.