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The Chiefs’ AFC West Gauntlet Starts With a Key Matchup vs. The Broncos

If the Chiefs plan on winning the division, they'll need to kick off their second-half AFC West run with a win on Sunday Night Football.

The Kansas City Chiefs don't always play back-to-back-to-back AFC West games coming out of their bye week but when they do, it's when the team holds just a one-game lead on everyone else in the division.

Head coach Andy Reid's track record when having an extra week to prepare is exceptional. In his career, his teams have 19 wins and just three losses after a bye week. In home games, that record is 11-1. Not only have the Chiefs had two weeks to prepare for an intra-division matchup with the Denver Broncos, but the Sunday Night Football event will be held in Kansas City. That alone gives Reid and his team two tremendous advantages.

When you factor in the four-game winning streak the Chiefs were on heading into the bye, it's easy to see why the good times may keep rolling for one of the NFL's hottest teams. With that said, things won't necessarily come easy against a Broncos team that is 3-1 in its last four games. Denver has had an up-and-down season and with a ton on the line for Vic Fangio's squad on Sunday, Chad Jensen of Mile High Huddle joined me on Friday's Roughing the Kicker podcast to preview the matchup.

In my conversation with Chad, he made a Jekyll and Hyde reference in regards to the Broncos' 2021 season. After coming out of the gates hot and beating up on lowly teams in the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, the AFC West had a two-way tie between Denver and the Las Vegas Raiders through three weeks. Over the next month of games, though, Fangio and his team dropped four consecutive games to more competitive opponents. With injuries mounting up and plenty left to prove, the Broncos have flashed both good and bad in their most recent four-game slate.

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In their three-game stretch against the NFC East, the Broncos won their first two games before losing in blowout fashion to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles loss was undoubtedly embarrassing, but a convincing win over the Dallas Cowboys just a week prior had set a high standard for quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and company to live up to. They managed to do so coming out of their own bye week, defeating the Chargers in thorough fashion. At 6-5, no one is sure what to make of the Broncos. Their running game and defense are both strong, and Bridgewater is a solid quarterback. Beyond that, will the real version of the Broncos show up on Sunday night against the Chiefs? It's anyone's guess, and that's why the Chiefs need to take advantage.

After their Week 13 contest against the Broncos, the Chiefs will host the Raiders in a noon matchup next Sunday before traveling to Los Angeles on a short week to face the Chargers on a Thursday night game. That's a lot of emotional, highly-contested and overall draining football to play in a short period of time. The Chiefs dug themselves into a hole earlier in the season and although they look much better than they did, they haven't dug themselves completely out of it just yet. Escaping this three-game gauntlet with at least two wins is critical.

The Chargers game is the one to be worried about. Not only do the Chiefs not currently hold a tiebreaker over Los Angeles, but Brandon Staley's bunch is arguably the most talented non-Chiefs team in the AFC West. With that said, Kansas City can't afford to look ahead and stumble against the Broncos or Raiders. If the team wants to secure the division crown for a sixth-straight time, it all starts on Sunday when Denver comes to town.

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