8:30 PM ET, November 30, 2014
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Game Balls: Denver at Kansas City
They hope a more well-rounded attack can help them Sunday night when they visit the Kansas City Chiefs, who are looking to create a first-place tie in the AFC West.
Denver (8-3) ranks 29th with 72.6 rushing yards per game on the road, where it is 2/3 -- one loss shy of its total from the last two seasons.
While the Broncos have been better at home with 122.8 yards per game, they also committed to the run in Sunday's 39-36 win against Miami, recording season highs of 201 yards and 35 carries. Anderson accounted for 167 of those yards and has been much more effective than Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball, who are both dealing with injuries. Anderson is averaging a team-best 5.6 yards per carry and 157.7 scrimmage yards over his last three games.
The Broncos struck a perfect balance with 35 runs and passes against Miami. They're averaging a 34.3 margin between passing and rushing attempts in their losses compared to a 7.1 margin in their wins. Denver is 1/3 when attempting 49 pases or more, so balance appears to be crucial -- even for a team quarterbacked by Peyton Manning.
Manning owns a 130.4 passer rating at home with 21 TDs and two interceptions compared to a 91.5 rating with 13 TDs and seven INTs on the road.
"Obviously, we would rather be running it than passing it, but we have a guy that can pass it pretty good," center Will Montgomery said. "So, to be effective in the long run we need to do both, and we can do both."
Denver's five-game winning streak against Kansas City since acquiring Manning is its longest since winning eight straight from Oct. 24, 1976-Oct. 28, 1979. Manning was 21 of 26 for 242 yards and three TDs in a 24-17 home win Sept. 14 and owns a 117.3 rating against the Chiefs since joining the Broncos, throwing 14 TDs with two interceptions.
He could be without an important weapon again with tight end Julius Thomas questionable after he sat out versus Miami with an ankle injury. Thomas leads the NFL with 12 receiving TDs.
The Chiefs (7-4) can pull even with the Broncos with a victory, though Denver would still hold the tiebreaker by virtue of a better divisional record. They'll likely be playing with heavy hearts after Eric Berry was placed on the non-football injury list Monday after a mass suspected to be lymphoma was found in his chest.
"I understand that right now I have to concentrate on a new opponent," the All-Pro safety said. "I have great confidence in the doctors and the plan they are going to put in place for me to win this fight. I believe that I am in God's hands and I have great peace in that."
Kansas City boasts the league's best passing defense, limiting opponents to 198.9 yards per game. The Chiefs haven't allowed a 300-yard passer in 13 straight regular-season contests. Manning has thrown for 300-plus in six of his last nine.
Kansas City's 31 sacks are tied for fourth in the NFL -- including a league-leading 13 from Justin Houston -- but the Broncos only surrendered one sack in September.
The Chiefs have looked increasingly vulnerable on the ground, giving up 383 yards over their past two games. They allowed 179 yards and their first two rushing TDs of the season in a 24-20 defeat at previously winless Oakland on Nov. 20, including a 90-yard scoring run by Latavius Murray.
"We weren't playing our gaps and it's like a high school football game," linebacker Tamba Hali said.
Denver signed kicker Connor Barth on Tuesday after waiving Brandon McManus, who missed a 33-yard field goal against the Dolphins to fall to 9 for 13 on the season. Barth, who won a competition with Jay Feely at the team's complex this week, hasn't played since 2012 after tearing his right Achilles tendon during a charity basketball game, though he is an 84.2 percent kicker for his career.
"We're a performance-based business and regardless of what your job description is you're expected to perform," said coach John Fox, who is 8-1 lifetime against Kansas City.
Denver's DeMarcus Ware is one sack shy of passing Chiefs Hall of Famer Derrick Thomas for the 14th-most in league history.
Broncos leading tackler Brandon Marshall expects to play after clearing concussion protocol and practicing in full Friday. He was knocked out of the Miami game.
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Kansas City Chiefs
|Avg Points Allowed||1.3||2.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DEN|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DEN|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Denver leads 19-9|
|Sep 14, 2014||DEN 24, KC 17|
|Dec 1, 2013||DEN 35, @KC 28|
|Nov 17, 2013||DEN 27, KC 17|
|Dec 30, 2012||DEN 38, KC 3|
|Nov 25, 2012||DEN 17, @KC 9|
|Jan 1, 2012||DEN 3, KC 7|
|Nov 13, 2011||DEN 17, @KC 10|
|Dec 5, 2010||DEN 6, @KC 10|
|Nov 14, 2010||DEN 49, KC 29|
|Jan 3, 2010||DEN 24, KC 44|
|Dec 6, 2009||DEN 44, @KC 13|
|Dec 7, 2008||DEN 24, KC 17|
|Sep 28, 2008||DEN 19, @KC 33|
|Dec 9, 2007||DEN 41, KC 7|
|Nov 11, 2007||DEN 27, @KC 11|
|Nov 23, 2006||DEN 10, @KC 19|
|Sep 17, 2006||DEN 9, KC 6|
|Dec 4, 2005||DEN 27, @KC 31|
|Sep 26, 2005||DEN 30, KC 10|
|Dec 19, 2004||DEN 17, @KC 45|
|Nov 6, 2004||DEN 17, KC 11|
|Sep 12, 2004||DEN 34, KC 24|
|Dec 7, 2003||DEN 45, KC 27|
|Oct 5, 2003||DEN 23, @KC 24|
|Dec 15, 2002||DEN 31, KC 24|
|Oct 20, 2002||DEN 37, @KC 34|
|Dec 16, 2001||DEN 23, @KC 26|
|Oct 7, 2001||DEN 20, KC 6|
The Chiefs WR have fewer yards combined as a unit than what Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas have each collected this season. Kansas City still does not have a receiving touchdown by a WR (every other team in the NFL has at least 5).[+]
The Broncos ran by design on a season-high 55.7 percent of their plays Sunday night, and have run the ball more often in their last two games without Julius Thomas. The Broncos have run by design on less than 30 percent of their plays three times this season, and lost each of those games.[+]
Broncos Highest Rush Pct by Design - This Season
Following the opening drive by the Broncos in the 2nd half, Demaryius Thomas now has as many receptions as all Chiefs wide receivers combined. Thomas has 10 TD, while Kansas City WRs have yet to find the end zone this season.[+]
Chiefs WRs vs Demaryius Thomas Receiving, This Season
Connor Barth was 5 for 5 on field goal tries in his Broncos debut. The five field-goal makes were a career high for Barth, who was playing in his 67th NFL game (his career began with the Chiefs in 2008). Broncos kickers entered the week with the second fewest field goals of any team (9) and the second-lowest field-goal percentage (69 percent). Barth is the first Broncos kicker to make five field goals in a game since Jason Elam made five in a loss to the Dolphins in 2002.
C.J. Anderson is the FIRST player with back-to-back 150 yard rushing games in games started by Peyton Manning (252 career starts). No player has done this with Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Anderson is the only player this season with back-to-back 150-yard rushing games, and only the 5th player to do this in the last 5 seasons, joining the likes of Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Michael Turner.
Chiefs wide receivers combined for 5 receptions Sunday night as no Kansas City wide receiver has caught a touchdown this season. Demaryius Thomas has four fewer receptions and more receiving yards than all Chiefs wide receivers combined this season.
C.J. Anderson ran for a new career-high 168 rushing yards, including 90 after contact. Anderson's 90 rushing yards after contact are the 4th-most by a player in a game this season and the most by a Broncos running back in the last 9 seasons.
ESPN Stats & Information