(CBS Denver) — The Kansas City Chiefs are eyeing the postseason, which still holds the possibility of a first-round bye. The Chiefs are 9-4 and winners of three straight. The team right in front of them — the New England Patriots at 10-3 — has been floundering of late. So extending their winning streak could move them up in the playoff standings.
The Denver Broncos are eyeing a much more distant future that could involve the postseason again… one day. This will be the fourth straight season without a playoff appearance. But the season also looks like it will end on a hopeful note.
The AFC West rivals meet Sunday in Kansas City, where the Chiefs are 10-point favorites.
The Chiefs are playing for the second seed in the AFC, which the Patriots currently hold. But according to SportsLine NFL analyst Kenny White, “these two teams are going in opposite directions. Kansas City is just one game behind New England. If they catch them and are tied, the Kansas City Chiefs get the two seed thanks to the win last week. So they’ve got the head-to-head locked up with the win last week. That was big for Kansas City, yes, and that’s what they’re playing for, a two seed.”
The Chiefs have won four of their last five games. Patrick Mahomes isn’t showing any ill-effects from the knee injury that sidelined him in the middle of the season. And even the Chiefs defense, not one of the NFL’s better units, has shown some signs of life.
The Broncos, themselves winners of two straight, once again won’t be playing January football. At 5-8, a .500 season is the best they can hope for. Still strong play from rookie quarterback Drew Lock has given the team a reason to be optimistic. “They’re excited,” notes White. “I think they may have gotten the best quarterback in the draft — Drew Lock out of Missouri. He can make all the throws. He’s got a big-time arm. And I think he’s really got what it takes to be an NFL quarterback. And he’s really shown it. He’s going to be a little different story this week on the road against Kansas City. He’s going to be a good one, Denver fans.”
Lock put up 309 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos’ 28-24 win over the Houston Texans. He’s capable of similar numbers against a porous Chiefs pass defense. Whether that’s enough to keep up with the Chiefs’ high-powered offense is a different story. Then again, maybe he won’t have to keep up.
“For the Broncos, they’ve been an under team when they’ve played in the division versus the AFC West… 20-7 with one tie their last 28 games versus division opponents,” says White. “So look for a low-scoring football game, that’s the way Denver likes it. But the Kansas City Chiefs under Andy Reid, they have dominated this division, not just by winning games, but by covering spreads as well. Andy Reid 21-7, 75 percent versus the spread versus the division. So look for Andy Reid to cover this game.”
Either way, expect a more competitive matchup than the teams’ first meeting of the season, which the Chiefs won, 30-6, back in mid-October. Maybe the Broncos can even play spoiler to the Chiefs’ postseason aspirations.
The Broncos play the Chiefs Sunday @ 11 a.m. MT on CBS.