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Broncos at Chiefs: Top Five Storylines

Posted Nov 29, 2013

What to watch for in Denver’s Week 13 game at Kansas City.

Long Time No See

The Broncos and Chiefs will play their second game in a three-week span on Sunday.

Denver won the first matchup 27-17, but the rematch will come on the hostile ground of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City.

“They have talent and they have skill -- they have a lot of skill, as a matter of fact,” linebacker Von Miller said. “It’s the National Football League. It’s always hard to beat a team twice.”

Even though the Broncos studied the Chiefs’ tape just two weeks ago, they’ll go back and re-watch it for this week’s matchup.

“You can’t just get comfortable saying, ‘Hey, I know these guys,’” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “You have study them just as hard as you did the first time around. So from that standpoint, it doesn’t get any easier to prepare because they are such a diverse team scheme-wise and they have good players.”

Bouncing Back

Although the Broncos and Chiefs lead the AFC with 9-2 records, both enter this game coming off tough losses.

Denver fell 34-31 in overtime at New England, while Kansas City has lost two in a row – the 27-17 loss at Denver and then last week’s 41-38 defeat versus San Diego.

“It doesn’t get much tougher going on the road, playing a division team and I’ve always said its one of the loudest places to play,” Manning said. “(That is) a team that’s got their backs against the wall, too. After losing two in a row, they’ll be motivated and they have a lot of pride as well. That’s kind of the challenge. How do we respond coming off last week’s game going to play a tough team on the road?”

Kansas City hadn’t lost a game until its defeat at Denver in Week 11, and now finds itself in a two-game losing streak.

“I like winning streaks better,” Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid laughed on his conference call with Denver media this week. “You’ve got to be able to handle the wins, you’ve also got to be able to handle the losses and get yourself better and learn from them, number one, and become a better football team.”

Next Men Up

The injury reports for both teams are long lists this week as the statuses of Chiefs linebackers Justin Houston and Tamba Hali are both in question.

For the Broncos, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and running back Knowshon Moreno have both been categorized as “day to day” by Interim Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio.

The Broncos, who lost starting defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson to the injured reserve list this week, are hoping to get Champ Bailey back in the secondary this week.

“I feel like barring any setbacks, I’ll be out there,” Bailey said on Wednesday. “That’s the way I’m preparing myself this week – to play. And if nothing goes wrong, I’ll be there.”

As for replacing Vickerson, fellow starting defensive tackle Terrance Knighton said that he plans to step up as a leader and that the team’s interior defensive lineman would have to help fill that void.

"I think it's a major blow,” Knighton said. “He gets us going up front. He's our leader in the D-line room. But that's what I'm here for. That's why they drafted Sly (Williams). Mitch (Unrein) has played a lot of good ball. So we just have to pick up the slack. Everybody has to do their job plus more."

Divisional Implications

While there is still plenty of football to be played, Sunday’s game could have major postseason implications.

There are only two teams in the AFC that can secure a playoff berth this week, and both are playing at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.

“Every week is a big game and they just get bigger and bigger,” Miller said. “Especially at this time of the year, they just keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Tied atop the AFC West with matching 9-2 records, the winner of Denver at Kansas City could clinch a playoff spot with significant help around the league.

Click here to see the full Week 13 playoff scenarios.

“This is a division game, so it’s huge,” Bailey said. “We know what’s in front of us. We are aware of what’s at stake here. We just have to go out and play our game.”

Slowing Charles

The focal point of the Chiefs offense remains running back Jamaal Charles, who totaled 157 yards from scrimmage for Kansas City last week.

In the first Denver-Kansas City matchup, Charles was held to 72 total yards, including negative-6 receiving yards.

“They'll try to feed him,” Knighton said. “That's their guy. And our job up front is to try to eliminate the run game and try to take them out of that and force them to try to beat us with screens and quick throws and things like that, but if they get going running the ball, it'll be a long day. So, we'll definitely focus on him first.”

Charles ranks second in the NFL with an average of 122.1 yards from scrimmage per game this season, and his 10 touchdowns are tied for third among running backs.

“Jamaal Charles is still their game changer, their playmaker,” Miller said. “They’re going to try to get him the ball most of the time. You just have to be technically sound and just play our game.”