AP Sports Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Peyton Manning sounded just as stumped in trying to describe his success against Kansas City as the Chiefs have looked when trying to slow down the Denver Broncos quarterback.
Fourteen times, Manning has faced the Chiefs. Thirteen times, he has been victorious.
“I don’t know if it’s really worth trying to explain,” Manning said ahead of Thursday night’s early-season showdown between AFC West contenders. “It’s in the past. Here we are, in a new season, that’s kind of where I guess I’m thinking the most, playing a good team at home.”
Still, only three quarterbacks since 1950 — Otto Graham against the Cardinals, John Elway versus the Patriots, and Roger Staubach against the Giants — have managed better winning percentages against another team, according to STATS. All three of them are Hall of Famers.
Two of those victories by Manning came in the playoffs, when he was calling the signals for the Indianapolis Colts. But it’s not as if things have changed with Denver: Manning is 6-0 against the Chiefs the past three years.
“Everybody knows he’s a great player,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “They all know — the whole league knows. But you prepare for the team, and focus on that, and the battles you have within that. I want the players concentrating on that part of it.”
Rather than the way Manning has battered the Chiefs over the past 16 years.
There was that virtuoso performance in 2004, when he threw three touchdown passes to knock the 13-3 Chiefs out of the playoffs. Or the pair of five-TD games Manning’s had against them. Or the two flawless performances last year, when he combined to throw five more TD passes without a pick.
“They’ve all been different,” Reid said of the recent contests. “Some of them have been very close, we just came up short on them. Majority of them have been very close. They’re good battles.”
Perhaps it was wise Manning didn’t waste time reviewing his record against Kansas City, considering both teams have just four days to prepare — and the Broncos must also travel.
“It’s a big challenge, but in this league, everybody gets a chance to do it,” Denver coach Gary Kubiak said. “It’s just that we’re doing it early this year.”
In some ways, that’s a blessing. While the Broncos are coming off a physical win against Baltimore, and Kansas City opened on the road successfully against Houston, both teams are still fresh, better able to deal with the physical toll of a quick turnaround than they might later in the season.
Here are some other story line for Broncos-Chiefs:
DIVISION DOMINANCE: The Broncos have won 12 straight away from home in their division, their last loss coming Dec. 19, 2010, in Oakland. Since the merger, the San Francisco 49ers from 1987-90 are the only team to have won 12 straight division games away from home.
WARD RETURNS: The Broncos should get a boost with the return of Pro Bowl safety T.J. Ward, who was suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Not that their defense needs much help. Denver led the league in fewest yards allowed (173) in Week 1. “I got suspended, sat out and served by due time,” Ward said. “It’s done now. Ready to go.”
RECORDS SHOULD FALL: Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson needs seven tackles to reach 1,000 and break Gary Spani’s franchise record. “Other than chasing that ring, there’s not a lot of chances to pat yourself on the back,” said Spani, now part of the KC front office. “I’m proud of him.”
GETTING PRESSURE: The Chiefs and Broncos each feature a fearsome pass rush. Justin Houston was part of a group that had five sacks against the Texans, while Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware have made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks for years.
GROUND GAMES: The Chiefs’ Jamaal Charles had just 16 carries for 57 yards in Week 1, though he also had five catches for 46 yards and a score. Denver counterparts C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman combined to carry 24 times for 70 yards. “We just struggled,” Kubiak said. “It was a battle.”