2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Chiefs, Manning get some solid answers Sunday

By EDDIE PELLS - AP National Writer
    2013-11-14 17:35

DENVER (AP) - The Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL's worst undefeated team.

Peyton Manning is the league's most vulnerable 300-yards-a-game passer.

It's not often that so many doubts hover over teams and players who have been so good.

Some of the questions will be resolved Sunday night when the Chiefs (9-0) play the Broncos (8-1) in an AFC West meeting between teams with a .944 winning percentage - best combined record of two opponents this deep into the season since the NFL merger in 1970.

But not all the questions. Because they meet again in two weeks.

''The NFL has a system in place to find out who's the best,'' said Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith, who has fielded repeated questions about the softness of Kansas City's schedule through nine games. ''The speculation of nine weeks in, who's the best team, for me, it's kind of pointless. Who cares? I want to be the best team come February.''

A win for Kansas City would go a long way toward that goal. The Chiefs, whose nine straight victories have come against teams with a combined .357 winning percentage, could take a two-game lead over the Broncos with an early edge in the tiebreaker and a rematch coming up Dec. 1 at home.

If the Broncos win, they'll move into a tie in the AFC West with the toughest stretch of their season - at New England and Kansas City - coming up next.

The buzz about Manning's record-pace of 3,249 yards and 33 touchdowns this season has been replaced this week by concerns over his ankles. They have been bugging him for about a month now and got worse when a Chargers lineman dived at them at the end of last week's game.

The Broncos get ready to protect him while facing the league's top sacks defense; linebackers Justin Houston (11) and Tamba Hali (9) have combined for 20 of Kansas City's 36 sacks. The Chiefs also lead the league with a plus-15 turnover margin.

In a matchup between top offense and top defense, who usually wins?

''Well, the NFL definitely made it harder for a really good defense in this league, but you have to play the game to find that out,'' Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey said. ''It could go either way. We know what kind of defense they have and we know what kind of offense we have.''

Five things to look for Sunday in ''The Game of the Year, Part I:''

PEYTON'S ANKLES: An MRI showed no new damage to Manning's ankle after last week and Manning has been saying all along he'll play. Still, it's hard to put a measure on the week-after-week toll of having players diving at his feet, let alone sacking and stripping him from the blind side, which has happened in the last three games. ''It's part of football,'' Manning insists. Clearly, though, this is not the perfect week to be going up against the league's top sacks team.

KC KEEPING UP: The Chiefs' defense has scored five touchdowns this season. The offense: four TDs over the last three games. The Broncos average 41.2 points a game. Even if the Kansas City defense keeps Manning and Co., in partial check, and even if the defense scores a few points itself, it figures there will be at least some pressure on Smith and the KC offense to score a bit. The Chiefs rank 26th on converting trips inside the 20 into touchdowns (82.8 percent). ''You want sevens, and when you get them, the chances of winning go up,'' Smith said.

BRRRR: Temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s for kickoff, which means Manning could very well don his cold-weather glove for the first time this season. The last time he wore it in a meaningful situation, the Broncos lost to Baltimore in the playoffs in single-digit weather. The time before that, they beat Kansas City 38-3 in the 2012 regular-season finale.

Either way, Manning is far less effective when the weather is cold - 8-10 lifetime when the temperature is 40 or below - and the surgeries he's had on his neck have caused some nerve degeneration that make it harder for him to grip the football when the temperature drops.

DISTRACTION BOWL: The Broncos adjusted well with Jack Del Rio taking over for John Fox while Fox rests at home following heart surgery. This week, the glare of the distractions goes to Kansas City's side, where receiver Dwayne Bowe was arrested last weekend during the team's bye and charged with speeding and possession of marijuana. Coach Andy Reid has said virtually nothing, other than that his star receiver would play and start. The Chiefs need him. Hard to match the Broncos point for point without the man who has caught more passes (33) for more yards (369) than any Kansas City wideout.

RUNNING BACKS: If the Chiefs are going to win, it would figure Jamaal Charles will have a(nother) big game. He leads the Chiefs in both yards rushing (725) and receiving (389). Yet, strange as it sounds for a team led by Manning, Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno could have every bit as big an impact for the Denver offense.

Moreno kept his starting job this season because he's best at protecting Manning. As Manning's protection has faltered a bit and teams have pressed the Denver receivers, Moreno has turned into his quarterback's favorite target: He leads the team in receptions over the last four games, with 24.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

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Follow Eddie Pells on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-epells

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Julius ThomasNov 27 07:52p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Anthony DavisNov 27 07:23p

The San Francisco 49ers have declared OT Anthony Davis, WR Bruce Ellington, DL Glenn Dorsey, QB Josh X. Johnson, WR Quinton Patton, CB Tramaine Brock, TE Vance McDonald inactive for Week 13.

Arian FosterNov 27 07:12p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 27.

Allen BradfordNov 27 07:12p

The Seattle Seahawks have declared LB Allen Bradford, TE Cooper Helfet, CB Jeremy Lane, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, C Max Unger, TE Rashaun Allen, DL Travian Robertson inactive for Week 13.

Jordan CameronNov 27 06:32p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Latavius MurrayNov 27 04:52p

Oakland Raiders RB Latavius Murray (concussion) was limited during practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 27 04:02p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Tony HillsNov 27 03:22p

The Dallas Cowboys have declared LB Dekoda Watson, OG Donald Hawkins, QB Dustin Vaughan, FS Jeff Heath, DL Joshua Brent, OT Tony Hills, CB Tyler Patmon inactive for Week 13.

Taylor HartNov 27 03:12p

The Philadelphia Eagles have declared OT Dennis Kelly, DB Jaylen Watkins, WR Jeff Maehl, OG Julian Vandervelde, QB Nick Foles, CB Rashad Carmichael, DE Taylor Hart inactive for Week 13.

Jordan ReedNov 27 03:02p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Dwayne AllenNov 27 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Thursday, Nov. 27.

Kyle FullerNov 27 11:32a

Chicago Bears CB Kyle Fuller (knee) will play in the team's Week 13 game against the Detroit Lions. Fuller had been questionable during the week.

Lance BriggsNov 27 11:22a

The Chicago Bears have declared WR Chris X. Williams, LB Darryl Sharpton, OT Eben Britton, DL Jeremiah Ratliff, LB Lance Briggs, CB Terrance Mitchell, DL Trevor Scott inactive for Week Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

The Detroit Lions have declared QB Kellen Moore, OG Larry Warford, DE Larry Webster, DL Nick Fairley, RB Reggie Bush, OT Riley Reiff, WR Ryan Broyles inactive for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 11:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is inactive Thursday, Nov. 27, for Week 13.

Reggie BushNov 27 10:12a

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) is out for Week 13 Thursday, Nov. 27. His ankle isn't responding well enough, but the hope is to return for Week 14.

R. Griffin IIINov 27 09:53a

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III is highly unlikely to return to the team next season, sources within the organization said. Head coach Jay Gruden convinced owner Daniel Snyder [ More ]

Jimmy StatenNov 26 09:43p

The Seattle Seahawks signed free-agent DT Jimmy Staten (Seahawks) to their practice squad Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also released OT Andrew McDonald from their practice squad.

Marcus ThigpenNov 26 09:03p

The Buffalo Bills claimed WR Marcus Thigpen off waivers from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Wednesday, Nov. 26. The team also waived DE Bryan Johnson.

Richard GordonNov 26 09:03p

The Tennessee Titans waived TE Richard Gordon Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 26 08:33p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Dwayne AllenNov 26 07:33p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) did not participate in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

C. PattersonNov 26 06:23p

Minnesota Vikings WR Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jerick McKinnonNov 26 06:13p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) did not practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Brandon LaFellNov 26 06:03p

New England Patriots WR Brandon LaFell (shoulder) was limited during practice Wednesday, Nov. 26.

Jace AmaroNov 26 05:13p

New York Jets TE Jace Amaro (head) is not expected to play in Week 13, because he is going through the concussion protocol.

Reggie BushNov 26 04:53p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle, back) was limited in practice for the third straight day Wednesday, Nov. 26, and is questionable for Week 13 against the Chicago Bears.

Jordan CameronNov 26 04:43p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) remains day-to-day, but the team is looking for him to practice symptom-free this week, according to head coach Mike Pettine.

Jordan ReedNov 26 04:13p

Washington Redskins TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 26, according to head coach Jay Gruden.

R. Griffin IIINov 26 02:53p

Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III needs more seasoning, and he'll likely do it from the bench for the rest of this season, according to head coach Jay Gruden. [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 26 02:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) has an excellent chance to return in Week 13 against the Tennessee Titans after missing the last two games.

Mark SanchezNov 26 02:23p

Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez has thrown six interceptions this year, but all of them haven't been game-changing turnovers. In Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans, Sanchez thrived on [ More ]

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