The Chiefs are coming to town. The Chiefs are coming to town. The Chiefs are coming to town.
But that’s next week.
On Nov. 17, the Broncos and Chiefs will play on Sunday Night Football. Kansas City will come into the game at 9-0 and the Broncos will be 8-1 or 7-2.
Denver’s record is still undecided because it has another game to play. The Broncos are making the trip to San Diego to battle the Chargers and Philip Rivers.
That is where all the focus needs to be.
All the media attention is turning to the game against Kansas City. The Broncos will have a chance to knock off an undefeated team and show that they are the dominant team in the AFC. But there is no easy task in San Diego.
The last two games played in San Diego have been anything but easy. Last season, the Broncos fell behind 24-0 before mounting a huge comeback that resulted in a 35-24 win. The game set both teams in different directions. The Broncos never lost another regular season game while the Chargers struggled the rest of the year and missed the coach.
The year before that game was no easier for the Broncos. The match up was right in the middle of the Tim Tebow-led winning streak. Denver had to win the game in overtime. Linebacker Von Miller made a saving play on defense. He forced San Diego into a longer field goal with a tackle for a loss. The Chargers missed the field and the Broncos went on to win with a Matt Prater kick.
The game on Sunday will also not be easy. The Chargers are playing better under new head coach Mike McCoy. He, of course, knows the Broncos well after serving as offensive coordinator the previous couple seasons.
Peyton Manning has a losing record against four quarterbacks in the NFL and Rivers is one of the them. Manning is 3-4 against Rivers including two playoff losses. San Diego’s defense has also baffled Manning at times. The Broncos quarterback had one of the worst games of his career with six interceptions against Chargers. He has thrown 20 total picks against San Diego.
The AFC West resurgence isn’t just about the Chiefs playing better. It is also about the Chargers. They sit at 4-4 but could easily be 6-2. San Diego blew a huge lead in the opener against the Houston Texans and last week had a chance to beat the Washington Redskins in regulation but flopped and lost in overtime.
The Chargers’ addition of Danny Woodhead could cause a huge problem for the Broncos. Woodhead has been great out of the backfield as a safety valve for Rivers. Woodhead has 49 catches through the first eight games. He has never had more than 40 in season before now.
The Broncos defense has struggled covering backs and tight ends in the middle of the field. Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan will be tested this game because of Woodhead and tight Antonio Gates. Gates has been a pain for the Broncos since he came in the league.
Don’t look past the Chargers, Broncos.
Manning is such a one-game at time kind of player it is hard to believe Denver would actually do that. But the Broncos have been through a crazy bye week with John Fox being in hospital recovering from heart surgery on Monday.
Interim head coach Jack Del Rio brings a lot of the same principles and ideas to the team as Fox did. They are concerned about the game ahead them. Not a showdown in 10 days.
The Broncos are set to embark on their toughest stretch of the season. A win against a division rival on the road would be a great start to the four-game gauntlet. Denver just can’t look ahead.
Chris Schmaedeke is currently the Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder. He has worked in sports journalism in Colorado since 2001 when he started at the Rocky Mountain News. He has covered the Denver Broncos for several websites over the past two years.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSchmaedeke