The battle for the AFC West begins early as the Broncos travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Chiefs. Both teams are coming off Week 1 victories. The Broncos needed a late interception to escape with a 19-13 home win against the Ravens. The Chiefs got out to a large early lead against the Texans and survived a late Houston comeback to win 27-20.
Thursday night’s contest features two strong defenses as each team has an early opportunity to jump ahead in the division. Peyton Manning struggled in the first game, and it will not get any easier as the Broncos face a good Chiefs defensive front. The Broncos did receive good news as wide receiver Demaryius Thomas is expected to play after suffering an injury scare against the Ravens.
Here is what you need to know about this Thursday night’s AFC West showdown:
Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs
September 17th, 8:25 PM ET
CBS, NFL Network
Arrowhead Stadium; Kansas City, Missouri
Chiefs by 3 (Line is according OddsShark and is subject to change.)
The Broncos defeated the Chiefs in both matchups last season. The last contest was a late November game at Arrowhead Stadium. The Broncos won 29-16 as C.J. Anderson ran for 168 yards.
Denver Broncos Preview
It is hard to pinpoint the exact reason but Peyton Manning does not look like the elite quarterback we are used to seeing lead the Broncos. Towards the end of last season, Manning struggled with some injury issues which could explain his poor play down the stretch. Manning also struggled again in the preseason and in the first regular season game he struggled with his accuracy. Additionally, his arm strength does not look like it is where it used to be.
Before Broncos fans panic, it is important to remember Tom Brady’s early season struggles in 2014. Brady certainly turned things around and led the Patriots to a Super Bowl. It is still to early to tell whether Manning is in a bit of a drought, or we are seeing the decline of one of the best quarterbacks of all-time.
Manning and the Broncos face a difficult task as they have to travel to Kansas City to play just a few days removed from Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Expect the Broncos to rely on their running game and defense to try to get another victory.
Kansas City Chiefs Preview
Alex Smith is coming off a great Week 1 performance. He was 22-of-33 for 243 yards and three touchdowns. The Chiefs got tight end Travis Kelce involved more in the offense. Kelce provided two of the three touchdowns. Despite not finding the endzone, Jeremy Maclin looks to be a huge addition to the Kansas City offense. He finished with five receptions for 52 yards.
The Chiefs will face a tough test Thursday night as the Broncos defense comes to town. It put up an impressive performance against the Ravens and the secondary looked especially good providing two crucial interceptions. The Chiefs offense does look improved and it will be a good early test to see how they handle the Denver defense.
Kansas City Chiefs 24, Denver Broncos 17
Peyton Manning does not look right. It is unfair to react to just one game, but he struggled towards the end of last season as well as the preseason. His arm strength and accuracy appears to be a challenge. It does not help that the Broncos have a new offense with Gary Kubiak as coach.
The Chiefs looked great in Week 1. Kansas City seems to be utilizing the talent of tight end Travis Kelce more this season. Alex Smith also has a legit number one receiver in Jeremy Maclin.
With the Broncos offense struggling, the Chiefs defense will take advantage. It also helps that the game is at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs win this one and put themselves at the front of the AFC West early in the season.
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