NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - INSIDE SLANT
Manning owns Chiefs, anywhere, anytime
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning likes playing against the Kansas City Chiefs -- he likes it very much.
Whether wearing white, blue or orange, Manning is 9-1 as a starting quarterback against the Chiefs. Whether regular season, post-season, in Indianapolis, Denver or Kansas City, inside or outside, grass or artificial turf . . . none of that mattered to No. 18.
That's why players on the Chiefs defense spent a lot of their bye week vacation with their feet up and their iPads on, watching tape of the Denver Broncos offense as directed by Manning. They hope to figure out this Sunday night a way to become the first team to slow down the NFL's most prolific offense.
"You have to be perfect in your fundamentals when you play Peyton Manning," said cornerback Brandon Flowers. "You can't be almost perfect; you have to be perfect. It's like playing against an offensive coordinator, but it's an offensive coordinator that can throw the ball."
There are a handful of veterans on the Chiefs defense that faced Manning with the Colts and Broncos. Most were on the field last season when Manning threw for 304 yards and three touchdown passes against the Chiefs, leading a 38-3 victory in Denver to close out the regular season.
Inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and outside linebacker Tamba Hali were on the field in the first-round of the AFC playoffs in 2006 when Manning led Indianapolis to a 23-8 victory. They've seen him four other times since that game.
"What makes Peyton so hard to defend is he's so accurate" said Johnson. "If you are covering well, you still have to make a play because he's going to put the ball in the right place. He's smart; he's going to throw to the open guy. He's going to change plays when he needs to. If you show him a certain look, he'll go somewhere else with the ball. That's just what he does; that's why he's a Hall of Fame quarterback."
The Chiefs defense hasn't seen many Hall of Fame type quarterbacks in the 2013 season. They faced Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Michael Vick and . . . that's it for established NFL quarterback talents. They are 9-0 and leading the league in scoring defense after facing quarterbacks like Jeff Tuel, Case Keenum, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Terrelle Pryor, Jason Campbell and Blaine Gabbert.
"He's a very different quarterback than what we've faced" said Hali. "He's different than just about every quarterback. He always seems to be a step ahead of the defense. He calls a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage that are designed just to see how the defense reacts. He sees things that other quarterbacks don't see."
Coach Andy Reid's defense has been the engine behind the Chiefs 9-0 start. They are No. 1 in fewest points allowed, giving up 12.3 points per game. They are No. 6 in passing yards allowed at 208.3 yards per game and they are tied for No. 3 in fewest touchdown passes allowed with nine.
All of that is meaningless against Manning.
"What happened in the first half of this season doesn't matter," Hali said. "What will happen in the last 6 games doesn't matter right now. What matters is we are playing the Broncos and if we are going to win, they we have to play a very good defensive game against a great quarterback."
In 10 games against Kansas City, Manning's most productive performance was the only one where his team lost -- a Halloween Day game in 2004 at Arrowhead Stadium when the Chiefs grabbed a 45-35 victory over the Colts. Manning threw for 472 yards and five touchdown passes in that game. It was the second biggest passing yardage game against the Chiefs in franchise history, behind only the 527 yards by Houston quarterback Warren Moon in 1990.
Those five scoring throws matched the most against the Chiefs; George Blanda did it with the Houston Oilers in 1965.
In those nine victories there were games in which Manning's play was less noteworthy. He completed 16 of 32 passes for 163 yards an interception and no touchdowns in 2007. That was good for a passer rating of 52.0, one of the lowest in his NFL career. Hali had a sack in that game. Still the Colts won, 13-10 as Manning led a late drive that set up the game winning field goal.
"This is a big game because it's the next one, and because it's a division game," said Hali. "We don't get a trophy after this game if we win; we have a game the next Sunday. Nothing ends after playing up there."
SERIES HISTORY: 106th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 56-49. In the last 10 seasons, Denver has a 12-8 edge, including a sweep last year, winning by 43 and 3 points.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - NOTES, QUOTES
-- Except for the earliest years of the American Football League, the Chiefs have had trouble beating the Broncos in Denver. From 1960 through the 1973 season, they were 11-3 in the mile high city. Since then, the Chiefs are 9-31 vs. the Broncos in Colorado, and they have won only six times in the last 30 seasons (1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2009 and 2011).
-- The Chiefs never had much success when facing Peyton Manning, whether he was with Indianapolis or Denver. Over his career Manning has posted a 9-1 record against K.C., winning seven times in the regular season and twice in the playoffs (2003, 2006). The only time the Chiefs were able to beat Manning was on Halloween Day 2004, when Kansas City won at home 45-35. The defense had trouble slowing Manning down in that game, as he threw for 472 yards and five touchdowns, among the most prolific passing performances against the Chiefs in franchise history.
-- Broncos defensive coordinator and interim head coach Jack Del Rio spent two seasons (1987-88) playing for the Chiefs. Del Rio appeared in 25 games for K.C. at linebacker putting up 77 tackles, 4 sacks and an interception. What Chiefs fans remember most about Del Rio was an incident in the first week of the 1987 strike by the NFL Players Association. While picketing in front of the Chiefs offices, Del Rio got into an argument with then team scout Otis Taylor and the linebacker ended up body slamming the former Chiefs great receiver on the sidewalk. Both sides ended up filing police reports on the incident but no charges were filed.
-- Over the last 10 seasons the Chiefs are 4-6 in the game after the bye week. They have lost five of the last six post-bye games, beating only Oakland 28-0 in the 2011 season.
BY THE NUMBERS: 13-1 -- That's Andy Reid record in the weeks when his Eagles team returned from a bye, winning 13 seasons in a row (1999-2011) before losing in 2012 to the Atlanta Falcons 30-17.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You respect the heck out of Denver, then you study them and get yourself right as a team. You make sure that you know the scheme, makes sure that you stay up on what you need to be at the highest level physically. That's how you go about doing your business. You don't want to get caught up in all of the distractions . . . we're playing the Denver Broncos and you want to make sure you get yourself prepared." --Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
NFL Team Report - Kansas City Chiefs - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
-- WR Dexter McCluster (ankle) practiced in full Friday and is listed as probable. He's expected to be available to play on Sunday in Denver.
-- DE Mike Catapano (ankle) practiced again Friday and is listed as probable.
-- WR Kyle Williams was claimed by the Chiefs off waivers from San Francisco. Williams is in his fourth NFL season after coming into the NFL as a sixth-round draft choice by the 49ers in 2010. How he fits into the Chiefs' roster isn't apparent, although his career as a punt returner could be the first spot where Williams gets on the field.
-- WR Dwayne Bowe will play and start against Denver this coming Sunday. That was the word on Wednesday from Chiefs head coach Andy Reid in the aftermath of Bowe's arrest last Sunday on misdemeanor charges of speeding and possession of a controlled substance.
"It is a legal matter and that's the way we will handle it," Reid said. "Dwayne will play. He'll start. There are rules and regulations put in place and we will abide by the rules and regulations. That's where we are going with it."
Bowe issued a statement through the team: "I apologize to the Hunt Family, Coach Reid, my teammates and Chiefs fans for the distraction I have caused the team this week. Due to the nature of the pending matter, I am unable to make any further comment on the situation."
-- RB Jamaal Charles has played eight games against Denver, rushing 118 times for 652 yards and catching 15 passes for 133 yards. Charles has four career touchdowns against the Broncos. In the final game of the 2009 regular season, he ran for 259 yards on 25 carries in Denver.
-- QB Alex Smith appeared in only one game against Denver in his career, a San Francisco victory during the 2006 season. As the starting quarterback that day Smith completed 17 of 32 passes for 194 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He also ran three times for eight yards.
-- WR Dwayne Bowe has 51 catches for 664 yards and two touchdowns in nine career games against Denver. Bowe's best performance against the Broncos came in 2010 when he caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
-- ILB Derrick Johnson has ended up in the end zone when playing the Broncos. In a dozen career games, Johnson has 58 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and four interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns.
-- OLB Tamba Hali has played 12 games against Denver over his career, registering 38 total tackles and 3.5 sacks.
-- CB Brandon Flowers has a pair of interceptions and 42 total tackles in 10 career games against the Broncos.
GAME PLAN: One thing the Chiefs know is if their offense outscores the Broncos that will rank as the upset of the NFL season. Denver has 44 offensive touchdowns in nine games; the Kansas City offense has scored 16 TDs. Given that huge difference in production, it's going to be up to the Chiefs' defense to provide the elements of victory for Andy Reid's team.
The Chiefs have not allowed an opponent more than 17 points this season. It doesn't seem feasible that they can hold a team like Denver to that level, especially when the Broncos are averaging nearly five offensive TDs per game. They will have to take the run-game element out of the Denver offense and then they must make quarterback Peyton Manning uncomfortable in the pocket, or even more uncomfortable than he will be with his sprained right ankle.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chiefs CB Brandon Flowers vs. Broncos WR Wes Welker -- The development of rookie cornerback Marcus Cooper has shifted Flowers to inside coverage when the Chiefs go to their nickel and dime defensive packages. With the quartet of Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Julius Thomas, K.C. figure to have extra defensive backs on the field for every play. Moving inside, Flowers will see Welker and that's a more favorable physical matchup for the Chiefs; Flowers is 5-9, 187 pounds and Welker is 5-9, 185 pounds. Flowers has also been bothered by injuries to both knees and moving to slot coverage limits the amount of running he's forced to do. In four career games against the Chiefs, Welker has 13 catches for 160 yards.
--Chiefs RT Eric Fisher vs. Broncos OLB Von Miller -- Just before the bye week, the Chiefs beat Buffalo and that game featured the best performance of Fisher's nine-game NFL career. The league's No. 1 draft choice has struggled in his introduction to the league, but he kept his wits about him and won most of the battles against Bills DE Mario Williams. Against Denver, Fisher figures to see plenty of snaps playing against Miller, one of the NFL's most prolific pass rushers with 32 sacks in 34 career regular season games.