When: Sunday, Dec. 1
Time: 3:25 p.m. CT
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
TV Broadcast: CBS-TV, Jim Nantz and Phil Simms commentators; DirecTV – 713; NFL Red Zone
Radio Broadcast: Over 60 radio stations on the Chiefs Radio Network; Mitch Holthus and Len Dawson, commentators; Kendall Gammon – sideline reporter. Chiefs Spanish Radio: La Gran D (1340 AM); Play-by-Play: Enrique Morales, Color Commentator: Oscar Monterroso, Sideline Reporter: Ricardo Soto.
SIRIUS: 119 (Den.), 86 (KC). XM: 86 (KC).
If the Kansas City Chiefs want to win the AFC West title and grab the top seed in the AFC playoff race that ensures home field advantage, then their playoffs technically start Sunday afternoon when the Denver Broncos come calling to Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs are currently tied with the Denver Broncos at 9-2 but barring an injury to quarterback Peyton Manning, this is probably the last game the Broncos have a chance to lose. After playing the Chiefs, the Broncos final four games are against Tennessee and San Diego in Denver before closing out the season with two away games against Houston and Oakland.
The Chargers might be able to hang with Denver in a shoot-out, but Denver will be heavy favorites in the other three.
The Chiefs, on the other hand, head on the road to Washington and Oakland before closing out the home portion of their schedule against Andrew Luck and the Colts on Dec. 22nd. Then they wrap up the regular season in San Diego against the Chargers … again.
No one needs to remind Chiefs fans how the team has played against their AFC West foes the last few years … the Colts are a probable playoff team that is struggling … and the Redskins are last year’s NFC East champ that happens to be a red-hot mess right now. Someone could make the case for the Chiefs to run the table and end the year at 14-2, and another could make a case that the team could lose three of their last five and finish 11-5.
Back in August, if you had told ANY Chiefs fan that the team would be 11-5 and in the playoffs, you would have been hugged and high-fived to death and you might have seen tears of joy in their eyes. But now, after starting 9-0, an 11-5 record would be cause for concern. That’s the blessing and curse of following a successful team.
Until the last three games, Chiefs fans would have felt comfortable playing these games with their top-ranked defense and special teams along with a mistake-free offense. But the defense has faltered badly and people are wondering if the Chiefs formula for their 9-0 start is going to work over the last five games.
Optimism comes from the offense seemingly getting their act together and the continued high-quality play of the special teams.
Here are three things Chiefs fans should be watching for during Sunday’s game if the Chiefs are going to beat the Broncos:
Forget the last two weeks: Confidence and momentum tend to go hand-in-hand and oddly enough, the Chiefs were still confident even after the loss in Denver two weeks ago. But their confidence had to be shaken with how the Chargers game ended. The team needs to forget the past and focus on Sunday only. Don’t worry about playoffs, seedings, past records against certain QBs, and just worry about winning this Sunday. Yes, the Broncos are a terrific team but as their gag job last week in New England showed, they’re far from a perfect team. Defensively, remember what worked all season long and forget two horrible quarters against San Diego.
Put Charles in Charge: No, Scott Baio is not coming in to rush the quarterback for the Chiefs, but if the Chiefs are to win, running back Jamaal Charles probably needs to touch the ball 30 times. In the loss in Denver, Charles only got the ball 18 times and that just wasn’t enough. Earlier in the season, people worried about Charles getting burned out or injured because he got the ball so much. This week, he can’t get it enough. Let you best player make plays – even if it takes him until the fourth quarter to do so.
The offense needs touchdowns, not field goals: Why are people geeking out about the offense after last week? Because they scored five touchdowns instead of one touchdown and four field goals. To put it bluntly, the Chiefs probably won’t hold Denver under 20 points unless Peyton Manning pulls a hamstring on the first play. So the Chiefs need to target 28 points from the offense and if the defense and special teams can add to that total, all the better.
Prediction: Both teams should be coming into this game furious about what happened last week. Unfortunately, until the Chiefs beat a team on the upswing no one can assume they can do it. These are the games Peyton Manning lives for and the weather should not be a factor for either team.
Score: Denver – 26, Chiefs 21.
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