Broncos Hope To Keep AFC West Jumbled Against Chiefs

The Broncos don't beat the Chiefs. Andy Reid almost never loses coming off a bye.

© Provided by The Canadian Press

The NFL flexed Denver at Kansas City with those facts staring directly at the league

Well, yes.

Sunday night's game, which replaces San Francisco at Seattle, is for the AFC West lead, which makes it significant enough. Plus, anytime the NFL and NBC can get Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and the rest of the Chiefs in prime time is an opportunity they tend to seize.

“It’s like somebody mentioned the other day: Sunday night is THE game,” Broncos coach Vic Fangio said this week, “so players get amped for it. I don’t think we’ll have an issue being emotionally ready.

“Besides,” Fangio added, “we’re playing the Chiefs, who have been the best team in football the last three years.”

So the Chiefs (7-4), who have won four straight games and have a one-game lead over Denver, Las Vegas and the Los Angeles Chargers in the division, get to showcase not only their offensive prowess but their recent significant improvement on defense. That often-maligned unit has allowed 18 points or fewer in each of those four victories.

“I think guys have done a great job of stepping up in their roles,” Mahomes says. “You have the mindset of, ‘We’re going to go out there and be who we are.’"

Who the Chiefs are against the Broncos is unbeatable in the past 11 meetings. Reid is 19-3 in games immediately after a bye, 6-2 for the Chiefs and 11-1 in such home games. Indeed, Kansas City is 37-13 against the AFC West since Reid became head coach.

The action began with the Dallas Cowboys' 27-17 win over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night. CeeDee Lamb had 122 yards from scrimmage, Tony Pollard had a 58-yard touchdown run and the Dallas defense produced timely sacks and turnovers as the Cowboys (8-4) solidified their position atop the NFC East, where they lead Washington by 2 1/2 games. The injury-riddled Saints (5-7) lost their fifth straight as Taysom Hill got his first start at quarterback this season, throwing four interceptions.

Off this week are Green Bay (9-3), Carolina (5-7), Tennessee (8-4) and Cleveland (6-6).

New England (8-4) at Buffalo (7-4), Monday night

AFC East supremacy is up for grabs, something the Patriots owned for more than a decade until Tom Brady left last year.

“People who love football want a chance to play in games like this,” says Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

Jones gets a huge break with Buffalo star cornerback Tre'Davious White gone for the season. Second-year DB Dane Jackson will make his third career start.

Buffalo QB Josh Allen must be aware of Patriots cornerback J.C. Jackson, who ranks second in the NFL with seven interceptions, four in his past four games. Allen has thrown seven interceptions in his past four outings and his 10 interceptions this season already match his total from last year.

Baltimore (8-3) at Pittsburgh (5-5-1)

For years, this has been among if not the best of NFL rivalries: fierce, hard-hitting football usually featuring powerful defenses and opportunistic offenses.

Yet the Ravens, who somehow rank dead last in passing D but are in first place in the AFC North, and the staggering Steelers don't seem to have the same cachet this time.

We'll be watching anyway, particularly with Baltimore atop the conference standings despite its struggles — including Lamar Jackson throwing a career-worst four interceptions in a less-than-stellar victory against Cleveland.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have allowed 180.5 yards per game on the ground over the past four weeks. Baltimore ranks second in rushing.

“For sure, it’s a rival game,” Jackson says. “We know it’s going to be an intense game, like it always is, and a very physical game, like it always is. I’m ready.”

Los Angeles Chargers (6-5) at Cincinnati (7-4)

Whichever team wins this one will vastly upgrade its playoff chances. Indeed, they both are one game behind in their divisions.

Like so many clubs recently, the Bengals have rediscovered the run game. Joe Mixon, healthy for once, has been on a tear, while the Chargers’ leaky run defense is allowing an NFL-worst 145 yards per game.


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