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Broncos at Chiefs: Final Preview

Posted Nov 23, 2012

DenverBroncos.com breaks down the Week 12 matchup at Kansas City as Denver looks to improve to 4-0 in the division.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In Week 12, the Broncos (7-3) look to stay perfect in divisional play when they face the Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) on Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. CST. Below is a preview of the game that includes big matchups on each side of the ball, noteworthy facts and a key to victory for Denver.

WHEN THE BRONCOS HAVE THE BALL: The Chiefs defense isn't much to blame for the team's 1-9 start. The unit has been placed in difficult situations throughout the year due to a league-high 31 offensive giveaways. It is laced with Pro Bowl-caliber players on every layer, from back to front. Of the 11 starters on defense, five were drafted in the first round.

The Denver offense knows that Sunday's opponent isn't short on talent.

"The defense is good," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "They can put a lot pressure on the quarterback, they've got a bunch of first-round picks in the defensive line, secondary, and they're well-coached and well-disciplined."

The Chiefs secondary is led by safety Eric Berry, the third overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, and cornerback Brandon Flowers, a fifth-year starter.

The defensive line features two former first-round picks - Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe.

In the linebacking corps, Tamba Hali is a 2011 Pro Bowl selection who recorded 24.5 sacks in the last two years. All six of his sacks this year have come in the last seven games. On the other side of the 3-4 defense, Justin Houston leads the team with seven sacks. Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson is another Pro Bowler from last year and has averaged 113 tackles in the last three years with 88 already this season.

"The records, we throw them out," tight end Jacob Tamme said. "You see how good their defense is. They've got five guys on their defense that could be Pro-Bowlers. The Broncos' biggest change on offense will be in the running game, as the team will be missing running back Willis McGahee for the first time in 2012.

As a result, running back Knowshon Moreno is expected to be active on gameday for the first time since Week 2. He will be part of a trio of backs, along with rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball, which will look to pick up the slack in the ground game.

"We have that 'next man up' philosophy around here," Manning said. "That's what you have to do in the NFL. Knowshon, Lance and Ronnie all have to step up. Everybody else has to step their game up, too, when you're missing one of your top players."

WHEN THE CHIEFS HAVE THE BALL: Quarterback Brady Quinn will be leading the offense in his first start since Week 8. The Broncos are familiar with Quinn after he spent the last two years as Denver's backup. Now that he's getting an opportunity to grab hold of a starting job, the players are expecting his best shot.

"It's a time for him to showcase his talents," safety Rahim Moore said. "He is a former first-round pick, so he can make plays. There's a reason why he's starting. Unquestionably, he's going to be juiced and going to want to go out and make some plays."

But priority number one for the Denver defense will be stopping the Chiefs rushing attack. Kansas City runs for an average of 145.4 yards per game, the fourth-best in the NFL, and running back Jamaal Charles is a rare talent takes a complete defensive performance to be contained.

"You have to stop their running game," Moore said. "They have a great back in Jamaal Charles who can do it all. They can run on you. They'll run on you all day."

While the numbers portray Kansas City as a team that is struggling offensively, ranking last in points per game and giveaways, the Broncos don't believe they tell the entire story. The Chiefs have been able to move the ball this year, gaining 343 yards a game. It's the turnovers that have been the club's Achilles heel. If the Chiefs protect the ball, they'll suddenly become a much more formidable opponent.

"The tape is different," defensive tackle Justin Bannan said. "I see them running on teams that have stout running defenses. I see them moving the ball up and down the field. I just think sometimes they're having a lot of unlucky turnovers and that's probably been the case of their season."

KEY TO THE GAME: Control the Crowd

Arrowhead Stadium is one of the most raucous football environments in the NFL. If the Chiefs gain some momentum, the home crowd will get fired up and can affect the game with its noise level.

If the Broncos control the pace and tempo and keep Kansas City from making big plays, the crowd might never have a true opportunity to get in the game.

"It's always tough playing at Arrowhead," Manning said. "It's always been loud the times I've played there. I've always thought their fans are smart fans. They get loud at the right times."

SERIES HISTORY

The Broncos-Chiefs rivalry dates back to 1960, when Kansas City - the Dallas Texans until 1963 - won 19 of the first 20 matchups. The Broncos didn't defeat the Chiefs' franchise away from Denver until 14 years into the rivalry. Since that win in 1974, the Broncos have reversed the tide, going 44-31 in the last 38 years.

Still, Kansas City leads the all-time series by a count of 56-47.

The Broncos have sustained a favorable advantage at home, winning 32 of 52 games, while the Chiefs have also protected their home field, going 36-15 versus the Broncos at home.

During the most recent installment of Elway Access, Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway recalled some memories of his games against the Chiefs. Elway played in - and won - the only playoff game that has ever taken place between the two - a 14-10 victory at Kansas City in the AFC Divisional Round in 1997. The last time the Broncos and Chiefs met at Arrowhead Stadium, in November of 2011, Denver left with a 17-10 victory. It was the only time the Broncos scored in double digits against the Chiefs in the last three games.

NOTEWORTHY NUMBERS

  • The Broncos rank in the top three in the NFL in three major offensive categories: yards per game (394.2, 3rd), yards per play (6.0, 5th) and points per game (30.1, 2nd).
  • The Chiefs rank last in the league in points per game (15.2), red zone touchdown percentage (51.5) and giveaways (31).
  • The Broncos are tied for 26th with 20 giveaways.
  • Kansas City runs the ball for an average of 145.4 yards per game, the fourth-highest average in the NFL, while Denver runs the ball for 105.3 yards per game (19th).
  • Defensively, the Broncos have allowed 93.8 yards rushing per game (5th) and 219 passing (12th). The Chiefs have allowed 129.2 yards rushing per game (25th) and 214.6 yards passing (9th).
  • The teams are nearly identical in third-down defense, with the Broncos keeping opponents from converting on 34.72% of third downs (6th), while the Chiefs are at 34.75% (7th).
  • Two of the NFL's leading tacklers will be on the field at Arrowhead. Linebackers Wesley Woodyard and Derrick Johnson are tied for the seventh most tackles in the league with 88, according to press box totals.

ANY-MINUTE MILESTONES

  • Cornerback Champ Bailey is one interception shy of tying Tyrone Braxton for the fourth-most in franchise history (34).
  • Wide receiver Eric Decker, who set a career high in receiving yards last week, needs one more touchdown catch to set a career high of nine.
  • Defensive end Elvis Dumervil needs one forced fumble to pass Dennis Smith for the most by a Bronco in a single season since the statistic was tracked in the beginning of 1984.
  • Quarterback Peyton Manning continues to break and extend records. Last week, he tied John Elway for the second-most wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. A win against the Chiefs will give him sole possession of second place with 149 career victories.
  • 25 passing yards will put Manning past Dan Marino for the second-most 3,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history.
  • One passing touchdown will give him his 14th season with 25 or more passing TDs, extending his own NFL record.
  • 31 completions will put him past Dan Marino (4,967) for the second-most pass completions in NFL history.
  • Linebacker Von Miller needs four sacks to tie Dumervil (17, 2009) for the most single-season sacks in franchise history. He is two shy of the NFL lead.
  • Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas needs 67 receiving yards to post his first career 1,000-yard season and the 31st 1,000-yard receiving campaign in team history.

CONNECTIONS

Linebacker Steven Johnson and cornerback Chris Harris each played college football at the University of Kansas for four years. The former Jayhawks played at Arrowhead Stadium in their school's annual rivalry game against Missouri.

Kansas City quarterback Brady Quinn was with the Broncos for the last two seasons.

Chiefs guard Russ Hochstein spent the last three years in Denver.

Running back Peyton Hillis spent his first two NFL seasons as a Bronco (2008-09), who selected him in the 2008 NFL Draft.

BROADCAST INFO

The game will be televised on CBS, with Greg Gumbel (play-by-play) and Dan Dierdorf (color commentary) calling the game.

Locally, KOA Radio (850 AM) will feature Dave Logan (play-by-play) and Ed McCaffrey (color commentary) with Alan Roach reporting from the sidelines.

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