The Denver Broncos (7-1) look to avoid a losing streak when they host the Kansas City Chiefs (3-5) on Sunday at Mile High Stadium.
Their earlier meeting in Week 2 was a memorable one. Peyton Manning rallied for a late touchdown pass, then watched as Jamaal Charles fumbled a handoff to run out the clock and force overtime. The Broncos scooped up the ball for a game-winning touchdown with seconds left.
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Kansas City wouldn't win for four more weeks after that. But they've rebounded from that heartbreaker to win two straight and look to give the Broncos another physical fight.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Chiefs and Broncos:
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1. Feed Charcandrick West like you'd feed Charles
The Broncos haven't surrendered a 100-yard rusher since Charles (125 yards) did it in Week 2. Charles won't be a part of this game, but his injury replacement will and the Kansas City's line has only gotten stronger in past weeks. West has 207 rushing yards in the past two games. He should be fed early and often.
2. Split Travis Kelce out wide
Denver's defense boasts a pair of all-star coverage linebackers in Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan. So, head coach Andy Reid should instruct his super-athletic tight end to split out wide, away from their reach in the center of the field. There, he should cause matchup nightmares for a secondary without Aqib Talib (suspension).
3. Overload Peyton Manning's left side
A surprisingly-defunct pass rush has led the Chiefs to surrender over 400 yards per road game. A simple fix? Overload Denver's blindside to take advantage of their third left tackle this season. Reserve tackle Michael Schofield struggled at times; he should do the same against Justin Houston and Co.
1. Re-establish that trademark defensive dominance
Denver's league-leading defense still tops the league in points allowed per game (17.4). But the Indianapolis Colts tore them apart with 365 total yards and 10 fourth-quarter points. They'll have to turn it around this week without Talib (suspension) and linebacker DeMarcus Ware (back).
2. Get a hat on receiver/runner/returner De'Anthony Thomas
Thomas scored on a jet sweep in Week 8 that exposed the Lions' undisciplined defense. The same exact thing could happen to Denver if they're not careful. Kayvon Webster needs to communicate now that he'll primarily match up with Thomas on pass patterns.
3. Trust in Bradley Roby to get things done
Roby usually sits behind two great cornerbacks (Talib and Chris Harris Jr.) on the Broncos' depth chart. That's no insult; Roby is still a solid cover corner who can shut down Kansas City's lackluster second receivers. He has 18 tackles, an interception, and four pass breakups on the year.