The Denver Broncos (7-3) travel to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday afternoon to take on the Kansas City Chiefs (1-9) in a game that was supposed to be part one in helping to decide the AFC West in 2012. The Chiefs travel to Denver to cap off the season in Week 17.
Manning is a career 7-1 against the Chiefs and could send Kansas City to its eighth straight loss on Sunday.
One of several MVP candidates—a list that now includes Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III—Manning has a chance to further cement his name in the discussion against a Kansas City defense that is about as hit and miss as any in the league.
Though the Chiefs defense ranks sixth in passing yards allowed at 214.6 yards per game, the 20 touchdowns allowed is tied for fourth-worst in the NFL and its 13.7 yards per attempt is last in the league. While the yardage totals are deceiving, teams simply do not have to throw the ball against Kansas City; but when they do, the results are deplorable for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs should be amped up for this rivalry game, but translating that to any success on the field will be a tough task.
The Broncos are one of three teams—the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys are the others—that feature both a top-10 offense and defense heading into Sunday. Kansas City would do well to just break double digits while not allowing Denver to break the 30-point barrier, but both seem impossible at this point.
With a win, Denver extends its current winning streak to six games. With a loss, the Chiefs stay just ahead of the Jacksonville Jaguars in the race for the top pick in next April’s NFL draft.
Here is one bold prediction for each team, along with fantasy football "beast-or-bust" candidates in Sunday’s matchup.
Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil Combine for 6 Sacks
The Broncos defense enters Sunday with a league-high 35 sacks, with fellow bookends Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil combining for 21 of those. The Chiefs have allowed 23 sacks of their own on the season, and enter this game with a hobbled offensive line (via SBNation.com)
Assuming that Denver controls this game from the start, Kansas City will be forced to pass more than it would like to in front of its home crowd.
Translation: Denver should have no trouble adding to their season sack total, with Miller and Dumervil reaping the rewards.
Brady Quinn Throws for 250 Yards and 2 Touchdowns
Brady Quinn has once again been given the starting nod (via USA Today) at quarterback for the Chiefs. Not that it matters much who is under center for this team, but the former Bronco could be in line for some nominal success come Sunday.
If the Broncos have one downfall, it is their pass defense. Though top 10 in terms of yardage, allowing 219 yards per game, Denver has yielded 18 touchdown passes to its opponents.
The Chiefs should be forced into tons of passing situations and will undoubtedly make mistakes because of it (Kansas City leads the NFL with 31 turnovers on the season). But more chances oftentimes equal more success; so look for Quinn to possibly rack up some respectable passing totals, though they will more than likely be accompanied by an interception or two.
Fantasy Beast: Ronnie Hillman
With Willis McGahee placed on the IR with a knee injury, Broncos’ rookie running back Ronnie Hillman will be thrust into a much larger role (via The Denver Post) come Sunday against the Chiefs.
Kansas City ranks 25th in the league, allowing 129.2 rushing yards per game while yielding 4.5 yards per carry. Hillman is a decisive runner and should be able to hit the hole quickly to find the second and third levels of the Chiefs defense.
Assuming the Broncos put it into cruise control in the second half on Sunday, look for Hillman to tally some serious stats in this favorable matchup.
Fantasy Bust: Jamaal Charles
Sticking with the theme that the Chiefs will be playing catch-up on the scoreboard, expect a very pedestrian day for running back Jamaal Charles—especially with a banged-up Kansas City offensive line.
Though Charles has seen better success on the ground in his last two games—a combined 40 carries for 187 yards and one touchdown—the Broncos run defense comes in ranked sixth in the league, allowing just 93.8 yards per game. The more telling stat, however, is that Denver is yielding a second-best 3.5 yard per rush.
If Charles is to find success, it will have to come early in the game while the score is still close, or if he can get around Denver’s edge rush and break a big run. But fantasy owners shouldn’t count on much from him come Sunday.
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