That “mean Chiefs D” and how it really did make Peyton Manning look at least sort of human

It’s Monday morning after the Chiefs vs. Broncos game – the NFL game of year thus far. As usual with my morning routine, I scroll through a timeline full of tweets, many relating to last night’s 27-17 win by the Broncos.

I was fortunate to see one of my buddies, a Broncos fan, make a fabulously bold claim. And I took the bait.


It usually takes about 15 minutes for me to sloth out of bed each morning. But after seeing this, it was a must to rush to my laptop, crunch the numbers and prove him wrong.

The initial look at Manning’s numbers is impressive. He played a mistake free game while still amassing over 300 yards through the air. And Denver thoroughly won the two most important in-game matchups.

An injury riddled offensive line was supposed be fresh meat for the Chiefs’ NFL leading pass rush. The hobbling Manning was never knocked down, let alone even sacked. Perhaps the Chiefs’ greatest perceived advantage entering the game proved to be just the opposite.

The other matchup featured the physical defensive backs of Kansas City against a Denver receiving group prone to struggle against that type of play. Marcus Cooper looked like the rookie he is against Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, giving up combinations of penalties and big plays.

Couple those with a turnover in the scoring zone and not scoring a touchdown with three tries from the 2-yard-line, and that’s no formula for beating the Broncos.

But if you really do “crunch the numbers,” that mean Chiefs D my friend satirically mentioned was still actually much closer to living up to its billing. Because you can’t own Peyton Manning, but you change him.

Peyton Manning’s numbers against the Chiefs

  • 24-40
  • 323 yards passing
  • 60% completion percentage
  • 1 touchdown
  • 0 interceptions
  • ESPN QBR rating of 66.5

Manning’s 66.5 QBR for the game puts him just above the season averages of Andrew Luck, Mathew Stafford, Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan – good but hardly elite quarterbacks in the game. The number falls far short of Manning’s NFL leading 82.2 QBR average, and would move him from a distant 1st to crowded 6th on that list.

So essentially, that mean Chiefs D transformed the world’s best quarterback from elite to above average.

The 60 percent completion percentage Manning posted was his second lowest in his 10 games this year. His only lower percentage (59.2) came in Denver’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Sunday’s percentage was 9.9 percent lower than Manning’s season average and would rank him 20th (!!!) in the NFL if that were his season average. That percentage would trail the less-than-impressive names of Chad Henne, Sam Bradford and Jake Locker.

So essentially, that mean Chiefs D made a future Hall-of-Famer look like a Jaguars quarterback.

Also, Denver wasn’t shy about throwing the football Sunday. Manning dropped back to throw 40 times on the night, just one attempt under his season average. He trails only Mathew Stafford and Andy Dalton in this category. So if the argument is that the sample size was skewed against this mean Chiefs D, it’s actually a perfect match.

Kansas City did not sellout to stop Denver’s passing attack either. The Broncos ran the ball 36 times for 104 yards. The result was an average of less than three yards-per-carry and no rush longer than 11 yards.

Give credit where credit is due, of course. Manning is a stud, and the definite reason the Broncos can beat the Chiefs, and anybody, on any Sunday. He didn’t make a costly mistake and never took a sack. But he’s not the kryptonite to the Chiefs’ super defense. His numbers were good, not great. It’s proof he breathes oxygen and needs water like the rest of us humans. Manning is no Superman, merely a beatable Batman with lots of toys.

Neither team has time to look ahead to The Rematch on Dec. 1 in Arrowhead. The Broncos travel to New England for another Sunday night showdown and the Chiefs host a capable San Diego team. Adjustments will be made between the two teams. In two weeks, America will get to watch it all again – likely with the division, home-field advantage and legitimate playoff aspirations on the line.

But before everyone crowns Denver champions of AFC, that mean Chiefs D will have another chance to settle the score with Peyton Manning. And this time with the loudest open-air stadium in the world on its side.


Via the Kansas City Star: Andy Reid’s postgame comments from the Broncos game.