KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs are stumbling home to Arrowhead Stadium off two straight losses. The Denver Broncos are hobbling in off a disheartening letdown in New England.
Much has changed in the two weeks since they played at Mile High Stadium.
Much has stayed the same, too.
The Broncos and Chiefs are both 9-2 and tied atop the AFC West, so it’s still a two-team race to the finish. But the Chiefs are no longer the NFL’s lone undefeated team — in fact, they’re the first to start with nine straight wins and then lose two in a row — while the Broncos squandered a chance to create some separation with their overtime loss to the Patriots last weekend.
“I think just playing is the best medicine,” Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith said, “but no question, when you’re playing for your division, it raises the focus for sure.”
The Broncos would have the tiebreaker over Kansas City and a two-game lead with four games to go with a win. The Chiefs would put themselves in position to win the division for just the second time in a decade, not to mention take a step toward home-field advantage in the playoffs.
So it’s an easy argument that there’s even more on the line than the first time they met.
“I don’t think you can just say, ‘Well, it was just a couple weeks ago that we played them,”’ Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said. “You have study them just as hard as you did the first time around. So from that standpoint, it doesn’t get any easier to prepare because they are such a diverse team scheme-wise and they have such good players.”
The Chiefs could be without two of their best players, though.