Peyton Manning dominated the Kansas City Chiefs in his Hall of Fame career. He was 12-2 against them and won the first seven times he played them as the Denver Broncos quarterback.
He lost his last head-to-head matchup, back in 2015, which flipped the narrative in the rivalry. Kansas City has won 13 straight games in the series, starting with that 29-13 win, and it will go for No. 14 when the Chiefs play in Denver on Sunday.
Kansas City (9-3) is coming off a loss in Cincinnati, which was a rematch of the AFC title game last year, but will find safe haven against the Broncos.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 14-0 in AFC West road games, and Mahomes has the advantage to win his 15th considering Denver’s offensive struggles.
“I mean, that’s the past. For us, it’s the now. It’s a West opponent. It’s a great rivalry that’s been going on for years,” Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said. “I am very excited to be a part of it.”
Denver (3-9) is last in the NFL at 13.8 points per game while the Chiefs average 29.2 per game, which leads the league.
The Broncos’ defense has come up big this year but with little reward. The unit is second in the league in points allowed per game (17.0) and third in fewest yards allowed at 304.6 but the offense’s inability to score has led to eight losses by single digits.
To make things tougher Denver will likely be without leading receiver Courtland Sutton on Sunday due to a hamstring injury. Wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and guard Dalton Risner (shoulder/back) are among those who did not practice on Wednesday.
Kansas City is relatively healthy in comparison. While wideout Mecole Hardman (abdominal injury) isn’t eligible to come off injured reserve for another week, receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday as did linebacker Nock Bolton (groin).
Toney, acquired from the New York Giants earlier this season, hasn’t played since Week 11 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Mahomes has plenty of weapons to utilize without those two, especially tight end Travis Kelce, who leads the team in receiving yards (968) and is tied for the league lead in touchdown catches (12).
More concerning is the foot injury Mahomes suffered against the Bengals last week. He came up limping on the last play of the game and is listed on the injury report but he doesn’t seem concerned about it.
“It’s felt good,” said Mahomes of his foot. “You always deal with bruises and little things in the NFL season — and so, luckily for me, it’s just a bruise and something I can just kind of bounce back from. (I’ll) be out there at practice and keep getting better like we’re trying to do.”
If the foot is an issue against the Broncos it might be a factor against their stout defense. Mahomes called Denver’s defense “special” and knows what he has to do in order to neutralize the rush.
“I’ve got to do my best to get the ball out of my hand and let these guys make plays,” he said.
–Field Level Media