When the Kansas City Chiefs welcomed the Denver Broncos to Arrowhead Stadium on November 25, the home team had already seen their season slip away with a seven-game losing streak. Meanwhile Denver was in the middle of what would turn out to be a 10-game winning streak.
The Broncos extended the Kansas City streak to eight, but it wasn’t easy as the Chiefs defense held Peyton Manning and the Denver offense to a season-low in points.
“They held us to 17 points last time and there were some things they did well, some things that we can do better, and it’s a great test from that standpoint,” Manning told reporters this week. “That’s what we’re going to try to use this week as a chance to try to improve.”
The Broncos might be working on ways to improve, but more importantly they are trying to lock in a first-round bye ahead of the New England Patriots and maybe home-field advantage throughout the playoffs over the Houston Texans.
Houston will play early in the day, so Denver should know if they can leap frog the Texans, but the Patriots are playing late meaning the Broncos won’t know their best possible seed when they take the field against the Chiefs.
Normally a two-win team wouldn’t pose much of a risk to a team as hot as the Broncos. But Manning sees the Chiefs — and their five Pro Bowlers — as better than their record, especially on one side of the ball.
“It’s just their record is different than what their defense puts out there … I can’t speak for what’s going on with their offense or turnovers or whatnot. I know they ran the stew out of the ball on Sunday but their active on defense, they can cover well, [Eric] Berry’s playing good, [Derrick] Johnson’s all over the field and they can get after the passer with four.”
The two that got after Manning the most the first time around were Justin Houston and Tyson Jackson, who were responsible for five of the six “official” hits on the Broncos quarterback. It seemed every other time Manning dropped back he finished the play on his back.
Even though he’s no longer technically the defensive coordinator, there’s no secret head coach Romeo Crennel will be the once calling the shots Sunday for a unit hoping to slow down Manning again.
Crennel’s game plan back in Week 12 against the Broncos was spot on in limiting them to just 17 points while knocking Manning around. It’s even more impressive when you see Denver had scored over 30 points in five straight games and again in three of their next four games after the matchup with the Chiefs.