When they take the field against Kansas City for the second time in 17 days on Sunday, the host Denver Broncos will be looking to beat two opponents — the Chiefs and history.
Kansas City’s dominance of its AFC West rival can be summarized in a pair of active winning streaks: The Chiefs (6-1) haven’t lost in Denver since 2014, and they hold a 16-game winning streak over the Broncos (2-5) that dates to the Peyton Manning era.
The Broncos last beat the Chiefs on Sept. 17, 2015 — a 31-24 win in Kansas City. Denver lost 19-8 at Kansas City two weeks ago.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is 12-0 all-time in the matchup with a 96.4 passer rating — part of a larger dominance of the entire division. Mahomes last lost a game in the division in Week 3 of the 2021 season (against the Los Angeles Chargers).
Mahomes called playing any opponent twice in less than three weeks a “unique challenge,” but it’s the Chiefs who force a more dynamic level of preparation from opponents. Mahomes is more than capable of winning a shootout, but this season he has rarely been asked to outscore teams thanks to a stellar defense.
Kansas City ranks second in the NFL in both total offense and scoring defense. While Mahomes is tied for second with 15 touchdown passes, he also been pressured 65 times on plays not resulting in a sack, tops in the league.
One of four AFC teams with a conference-low two wins this season, the Broncos are 1-3 at home and 0-2 against the division. Chiefs coach Andy Reid said that doesn’t mean Denver isn’t dangerous, noting the Broncos kept the Chiefs under 20 points when the sides met on a Thursday night in Week 6 (a 19-8 Chiefs win), then won 19-17 against the Green Bay Packers last Sunday.
“They’ve made some adjustments on the defensive side and are playing good football. The last couple games they’ve changed up, and they’ve had some success with it,” Reid said.
Kansas City’s Travis Kelce leads all NFL tight ends with 48 receptions and 525 yards. His four touchdowns are one behind Baltimore’s Mark Andrews among tight ends, and he has logged nine-plus catches in three consecutive games. He caught nine passes for 124 yards in the first game vs. Denver this season.
“Defenses are doing their best to cover him,” Mahomes said. “He gets open vs. man, zone, everything. I’m just glad he’s on my team.”
The Broncos hope they can end Kansas City’s reign of terror over the franchise with a win before they head into a much-needed bye week. But the “off” week also coincides with the NFL trade deadline on Oct. 31, and Denver is not expected to be idle.
While players might get a break, the Denver front office might be busy during the bye looking to exchange salary for draft capital. Multiple reports indicate the Broncos are engaged in conversations surrounding starting personnel, a year after parting with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb to net Miami’s first-round pick in the 2023 draft.
Broncos coach Sean Payton insists he is locked in on winning with his current team, citing the Detroit Lions’ rebound from a 1-6 start last season to nearly making the playoffs.
“We’re focused on winning with this group and these guys here,” Payton said.
Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, meanwhile, is amped up to remain undefeated in his career against the Broncos.
“As a whole, it’s everyone being accountable,” Jones said of why Kansas City simply can’t lose in this rivalry.
Following the bye, Denver travels to Buffalo for “Monday Night Football” to open stretch of four road games in six weeks.