The last time the Kansas City Chiefs lost to the Denver Broncos, star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a sophomore at Texas Tech.
Kansas City began its dominance prior to Mahomes’ arrival and now looks to post its 16th straight victory over the visiting Broncos when the teams meet on Thursday night.
Mahomes, a two-time MVP, is 11-0 as a starter against AFC West rival Denver. However, he said the streak doesn’t matter on game night.
“When you play a team like the Broncos, same with any division opponent, there’s just another level of intensity,” Mahomes said Tuesday. “I’m not worried about necessarily a streak or anything like that. I’m worried about winning against a division opponent. … It doesn’t matter what the records are. It’s gonna be a close game.”
The Chiefs (4-1) enter Thursday with a four-game winning streak while the Broncos (1-4) have been one of the worst teams in the NFL in Sean Payton’s first season as coach.
Still, Denver quarterback Russell Wilson points to last season’s two meetings as evidence of his team being able to stick with Kansas City. The Chiefs won 34-28 at Denver and 27-24 at home in 2022.
“We had good battles against them last year, both of them came down to the wire,” Wilson said Tuesday. “It’s a great football team on their side and we have to play great football, we have to play clean. We’re going into a tough environment.”
The Broncos have been abysmal on defense this season and rank last in scoring defense (36.2 points per game), total defense (450.6 yards allowed per game) and rushing defense (187.6 yards allowed per game). Denver is the lone team to allow over 2,000 yards so far this season (2,253).
The Broncos have allowed a staggering 877 yards on the ground over the past four games. The New York Jets rushed for 234 yards — 177 by Breece Hall — in a 31-21 road win over Denver on Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough to win games if we can’t stop the run defensively, and we have to get it cleaned up,” Payton said.
Perhaps Kansas City’s hard-running Isiah Pacheco (325 rushing yards, three touchdowns) is in line for a big game.
Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce is aiming to play on Thursday. He sprained his right ankle on Sunday in Kansas City’s 27-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis. He missed practice Monday and was limited Tuesday.
Kelce caught 10 passes against the Vikings — five before he hurt the ankle late in the first half and five during a single third-quarter drive after returning to action. He caught a touchdown pass to end that excursion.
Mahomes expects Kelce to answer the bell on Thursday night.
“That’s a legendary type game,” Mahomes said of Kelce’s performance at Minnesota. “I mean, to be able to battle through that. I didn’t see the injury live, so I didn’t know how bad it was, but looking back at it now and seeing how the ankle rolled and then being able to come back out there and play at a high level and score a touchdown that we needed to win the game — it speaks to not only the talent that he has, but the toughness that he has.”
The Broncos began the 21-day window to activate tight end Greg Dulcich from injured reserve on Tuesday. Payton said Dulcich, who injured his hamstring in the season opener, is “close” to being ready for activation. Dulcich was limited during Tuesday’s practice.
Denver defensive tackle D.J. Jones (knee) and outside linebacker Frank Clark (illness) missed practice on Tuesday. Among the five Broncos who joined Dulcich as limited were safety Justin Simmons (hip) and center Lloyd Cushenberry III (quadriceps).
Joining Kelce as limited during the Chiefs’ Tuesday practice were linebacker Nick Bolton (ankle) and defensive end George Karlaftis (hamstring).