Against non-Broncos opposition, Alex Smith is 20-7 as a Kansas City Chiefs starter in the regular season — a clip of .740, or the equivalent of going 12-4 every year.
Versus non-Denver competition, Big No. 11 as a Chiefs boasts a completion rate of 63.9 percent (545 for 853), 38 touchdown tosses, 11 interceptions, and a sparkling passer rating of 93.6.
And to give that 93.6 a little perspective, consider this: If that number was Smith’s career rating, it would place him eighth among active NFL quarterbacks, nestled in between Ben Roethlisberger’s 93.9 and Matt Ryan’s 91.1.
Or, in simpler terms, if it wasn’t for the Denver Broncos, it’s safe to assume more people would think of Smith as a “Top 10” (go ahead and make the air quotes yourself, we won’t stop you) sort of NFL quarterback.
If it wasn’t for Peyton Manning — although Manning’s crazy/voodoo/hex power thing over the Chiefs franchise predates No. 11 by what feels like centuries — in this division, in this kind of game, fewer people would perceive Smith as the NFL’s happy median: Trailing the elite, but better than, say, the Brian Hoyers and Kyle Ortons of the universe.
So, yeah. Thursday night’s prime-time brouhaha with the Broncos at Arrowhead means a hell of a lot to the guy under center for the Andy Gang, too.
“I don’t think they necessarily get in our head,” Smith told reporters earlier this week.
But they do get under the skin a bit. Smith is 0-6 lifetime against teams with Manning in the starting lineup, and 0-4 since coming over from the Niners.
Winning Thursday might not change that nagging perception of No. 11 as being a notch (or three) below the penthouse level of signal-callers. But it sure could soften the doubters, give the haters pause.
“Like you said, they’ve beat us every time (since 2013). We’ve gone in (and) two times having 4th-and-goal and the chance to win the game and didn’t get it done,” Smith continued. “We talk about what we want to do in (terms of) winning the division and going to the playoffs. And it starts with your division. And these guys are on top. Yeah, it does start with that.”
Funny thing: It isn’t that Smith’s numbers with the Chiefs against Denver have been poor — 88 for 152 passing, a 58 percent completion rate, six scores to just two picks and a respectable passer rating of 83.5 are the kind of digits Jameis Winston would kill for right now. It’s more about the fact that Smith hasn’t been able to get the ship to port before Manning or The Curse of Elway torpedoes the freaking life out of the party.
That, and 93.6.
More perspective: That non-Denver rating, if it extended over an entire career, would rank 10th in the history of qualified NFL passers — trailing Kurt Warner’s 93.7 and ahead of some guy named Montana’s 92.3. Just because perception ain’t reality doesn’t mean reality has to bite.