The Denver Broncos (12-3) are on their way to the playoffs no matter what happens against Kansas City in Week 17. The Chiefs (2-13) are on their way to the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft after another disappointing season.
Peyton Manning and the Broncos can lock up a first-round bye with a season finale win over the Chiefs in Denver. That alone should be motivation enough for Manning and his team to put their foot on the gas and finish the 2012 regular season strong.
Kansas City has nothing to play for, but could use a season-ending upset over the Broncos to fuel a strong offseason of retooling. Last time they met, in Kansas City, the Chiefs stymied Denver for much of the game but still ended up losing by a 17-9 margin.
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
When: Sunday, Dec. 30 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Stream: NFL Redzone or online at Game Rewind
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 113 or online at Audio Pass
Spread: Denver -16 (via Covers)
Kansas City kept things close at home against the Broncos in Week 12. Not much has changed since then, but the Broncos may be looking to make a statement before the playoffs begin next week. A win this week will give Denver next week off and a home game during the divisional round in two weeks.
Look for Denver to put up just enough points to edge the Chiefs and cover the spread this week. The Broncos are 4-2-1 at home against the spread and 9-5-1 overall this season. Kansas City is just 2-5 at covering while on the road.
Over/Under: 42 (via Covers)
The last time these two teams met, there was very little scoring. Kansas City hasn't done a good job of putting points on the scoreboard (just 20 points over the past three weeks). With the Chiefs' inability to move the football and score, the Broncos have less need to game-plan for scoring points in volume.
Look for another relatively low-scoring game for the Broncos. Unless Denver explodes, this game is going to fall under the 42 points.
Injury Report via CBS Sports (as of 12/27/2012)
WR Josh Bellamy, Ankle, Questionable
S Eric Berry, Hand, Probable
RB Jamaal Charles, Illness, Probable
WR Terrance Copper, Knee, Questionable
S Abram Elam, Quadriceps, Questionable
LB Tamba Hali, Illness, Probable
DE Tyson Jackson, Foot, Questionable
TE Tony Moeaki, Head, Questionable
S Mike Adams, Knee, Probable
RB Chris Gronkowski, Hamstring, Probable
WR Trindon Holliday, Ankle, Questionable
S Jim Leonhard, Thigh, Probable
CB Tracy Porter, Concussion, Questionable
WR Brandon Stokely, Quadriceps, Probable
LB Danny Trevathan, Groin, Probable
WR Matthew Willis, Knee, Probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Kansas City: RB Jamaal Charles
Charles is coming off of one of his best games of the season after rushing for 226 yards against Indianapolis in Week 16. The dynamic and lightning-fast back has climbed to the eighth rank for fantasy running backs this season.
Denver has succeeded in stopping the run this season, posting the fifth-stingiest numbers against opposing fantasy running backs. However, Charles did go for over 100 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos in Week 12.
Projected Stats: 25 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD
Denver: WR Demaryius Thomas
There is plenty of love to go around for both Eric Decker and Thomas. Both wide receivers are having career years while catching passes from All-Pro QB Peyton Manning.
The last time the Broncos faced Kansas City, Thomas hauled in four passes for 82 yards and one score. He is a proven performer that finds a way to beat secondaries over the top even when they know it's coming.
Projected Stats: 6 receptions, 114 yards, 1 TD
Key to Victory
Stop the Big Plays
The last time these two teams squared off, there wasn't a play that went for more than 31 yards from scrimmage. That's what kept the scoring so low and kept the Chiefs in the game.
If Jamaal Charles or Peyton Manning can beat the opposing defense for big gains, it could help shift the outcome of this one. Both teams rely on big plays to put up points; not many can do it better than Charles on the ground and Manning through the air.
Denver has a lot riding on this game and has the benefit of playing in front of its hometown fans as well. The Chiefs are already locked into a top draft slot and have little left to play for other than pride; a win here could help boost morale for a team that has found itself stuck in the cellar of the AFC West.
The future may bring a changing of the guard in the division, but that won't happen in Week 17 of the 2012 season. Denver will finish off an 11-game winning streak by convincingly out-dueling the Chiefs in the season finale.
Final Score: Denver 24, Kansas City 7