Game Preview: Chiefs (6-4) v. Broncos (7-3)

Thursday's game against Denver might be the biggest game in several years for the Chiefs. Kansas City is now 6-4, good for third place in the AFC West and just outside of the second wild-card spot. This game is beyond big, and is a must win for Kansas City.

The Chiefs survived against the 2-7 Raiders last week, but they'll need to play a lot better to beat the 7-3 Broncos. The good news is the Chiefs should be getting back Pro-Bowl guard Brian Waters, Pro-Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, linebacker Derrick Johnson and safety Greg Wesley. That's great news for the Chiefs as they will need to be at full strength to win.

Series History:

Kansas City owns a 51-42 record all-time against Denver, including one postseason matchup. The Chiefs have beaten the Broncos more than any other team and have won 12 of the last 16 games at Arrowhead against Denver, including six out of the last seven. The Chiefs and Broncos have split their season series four out of the last five years, with the home team winning the last eight contest. Stats:

CHIEFS:

Kansas City only allowed 13 points to the lowly Raiders last week, but they were outgained by the worst offense in football. The Chiefs are currently 14th in total defense (314.7). Kansas City faces a strong running attack against Denver this week, so their 16th-ranked rush defense (116) will have to be up to the challenge. The Chiefs have improved dramatically against the pass this year, as they are ranked 12th in the NFL (199). Kansas City hasn't allowed more than 17 points over the last three games, which has jumped the Chiefs up to 11th in points allowed per game (19.5).

The Chiefs have struggled offensively as of late. A lot of that is due to so many injuries on the offensive side of the ball and constant juggling of the offensive line. KC is currently ranked 16th in total offense (314) and 10th in rushing (125). The passing game has been suffering lately due to a makeshift offensive line and an injury to Tony Gonzalez. The Chiefs are 21st through the air (189) so far this season, but the passing attack should get a boost with the return of Brian Waters and Gonzalez. Thursday's game will also be quarterback Trent Green's second game back.

BRONCOS:

The once vaunted Denver defense is now ranked 15th in the NFL (315.4) after getting shredded by Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and San Diego over the last four weeks. Their pass defense has been suspect this season, even with the great Champ Bailey at corner, as they are 24th in pass defense (225). Denver has been stout against the run and ranks fifth in the league (90), but they gave up 125 rushing yards to Larry Johnson in Week 2. Denver was the top scoring defense in the NFL before losing to San Diego last week. They are now fourth in the NFL, allowing 14.6 points per game.

Denver's run game has been solid as usual, but the passing attack has been suspect so far. Denver is 19th in total offense (310) and fourth overall in rushing offense (142). Denver is 27th through the air (168) and is only scoring 18.5 points per game, tied for 17th in the NFL.

The Facts:

• The Chiefs are 15-7 overall in primetime games at Arrowhead dating back to 1990, including 1-1 against Denver and 2-2 on Thursday.

• Mike Shanahan is only 2-9 at Kansas City, but the Broncos own a 48-45 record on the road, good for fourth in the NFL since ‘95. Shanahan and the Broncos also own a winning record on the road against teams they've faced four or more times, but not in Arrowhead. Arrowhead is truly a house of horrors for Shanahan.

• The first quarter will be important in this one, as Denver has been shutout in seven of their 10 games this season, and Kansas City has only allowed 33 total points in the first half in their six wins this season. Denver has only allowed 23 points all season in the first quarter. KC owns a 50-7 record in the regular season at home when leading at halftime.

• Dating back to 1990, the Chiefs are 8-1 against Denver at home when holding them to 21 points or less, including five straight wins. The Chiefs own a 29-4 record at Arrowhead when scoring 30 or more points dating back to 1995, including five straight wins.

• KC has allowed just 14.3 points per game over the last three weeks, including back to back second-half shutouts.

• Denver quarterback Jake Plummer is 0-5 as an NFL starter at Arrowhead.

Injuries:

CHIEFS:

OUT: RT. Kevin Sampson (foot)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Tony Gonzalez (shoulder), LB Derrick Johnson (ankle)
PROBABLE: DE. Tamba Hali (hip), OG Brian Waters (knee)

BRONCOS:
OUT: S Nick Ferguson, S Sam Brandon
QUESTIONABLE: RB Mike Bell (thigh), RB Tatum Bell (toe), OG Cooper Carlisle (back), DE Kenard Lang (knee), WR Brandon Marshall (ankle), WR Rod Smith (ankle), CB Darrent Williams (shoulder) PROBABLE: DE Patrick Chuckwurah (hamstring), FB Kyle Johnson (ankle), RB Cedric Cobbs (ankle), LB Al Wilson (thumb)

Weather Report:

ARROWHEAD STADIUM, KANSAS CITY, MO, NOV.23rd

Forecast calls for a high of 62 degrees and a low of 41. Around gametime, the temperature should drop down to around 58 degrees.

PREDICTION: Chiefs 31, Broncos 24

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