The NFL’s final unbeaten run came to an end last weekend as the Kansas City Chiefs fell to a 27-17 defeat at divisional rivals, the Denver Broncos. Both team’s 2013 records now stand at 9:1.
Peyton Manning threw for 323 yards and a touchdown to Julius Thomas as the home side secured a relatively comfortable victory.
By the end of the first quarter the Broncos were already ten points to the good, with Thomas’ nine yard touchdown reception adding to Matthew Prater’s early field goal.
Dwayne Bowe, who was arrested under suspicion of speeding and marijuana possession earlier in the week, retained his spot in the Chiefs side and predictably was the man to propel the visitors back into the contest, catching Alex Smith’s six yard pass and taking it into the end zone.
Rookie running back Montee Ball ran in a one yard touchdown to re-establish Denver’s ten point lead, but Kansas placekicker Ryan Succop’s 20-yarder ensured the Chiefs went into the half-time break down by just a solitary score.
However, the host’s continued to dominate after the interval, and eased further clear when Ball scored his second touchdown run of the day – this time from eight yards.
Prater added a second field goal mid-way through the fourth quarter and the game was effectively done. Smith completed his decent day with a second touchdown throw, this time a ten yard effort to Anthony Fasano – leaving the quarterback with figures of 230 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. But ultimately the Chiefs were just unable to stop the ever potent Manning.
Despite the Chiefs coming into the game with a league-leading 36 sacks, and a defence who had allowed an NFL-low of 12.8 points per game, they were barely able to scratch the impressive Peyton, who handed Kansas their first defeat since December 2012, ironically a 38-3 loss to the Broncos that rounded off their 2:14 season.
With both sides, barring an extraordinary collapse, likely to make the playoffs, all eyes will be on the rematch between the pair in two weeks’ time, which will go some way to determining who will win the AFC West, and who will have to settle for a wildcard place.
The result at Mile High means that it’s all change at the top of the NFL, with the Seattle Seahawks 41-20 victory over the Minnesota Vikings meaning that their win percentage of 0.909 is now the best in the league.
However, with Russell Wilson and co on a bye week this coming weekend, both the Broncos and the Chiefs have the opportunity to join Seattle at 10:1 – if they can defeat the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers respectively.
With the Chiefs record of nine straight victories gone, the league’s best current streak now belongs to the Carolina Panthers, who made it six straight successes with a 24-20 defeat of the Patriots.
Both side’s move to 7:3, with Cam Newton’s team a win adrift of NFC South leaders the New Orleans Saints, who edged the San Francisco 49ers 23-20. Tom Brady and his side remain favourites for a fifth successive AFC East title. They still sit comfortably atop the division after the New York Jets were shocked 37-14 at the Buffalo Bills, leaving them at 5:5.
It’s all change in the NFC East though, with the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants winning again to put even more pressure on the Dallas Cowboys, who sat out week eleven.
The Eagles (6:5) made it three wins in succession with a 24-16 victory over last year’s winners of the division, the Washington Redskins, who fall to a disappointing 3:7. Meanwhile, the Giants collected their fourth successive win after starting the year 0:6 – a 27-13 home success against the Green Bay Packers who again struggled without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The Eagles and the Giants sit either side of the 5:5 Cowboys. Dallas and New York meet this Sunday. With only one playoff place likely to be up for grabs in the division, it’s a three way race that could go right to the wire.
That’s also the case in the NFC North where the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears are tied at 6:4, one win better off than the 5:5 Packers. Last weekend, the Lions suffered a 37-27 reverse against the rejuvenated Pittsburgh Steelers, who have won four of their last six matches, while the Bears emerged victorious in overtime against the Baltimore Ravens, with a final score of 23-20. The match at Soldier Field was also delayed by over an hour by storms and torrential rain.
Those two results also mean that the AFC North is wide open once again. The Steelers are right back in contention for at least a wildcard spot with their victory, combined with defeats for Baltimore and the Cleveland Browns, allowing Ben Roethlisberger’s team to jump from fourth to second in the division. All three franchises are tied at 4:6.
The Cincinnati Bengals still lead the AFC North with a 7:4 record, with their 41-20 success over the Browns ending a two match losing streak, but they have played a game more than their rivals.
Elsewhere, the Miami Dolphins moved into seventh place in the AFC Conference with a 5:5 record, and are currently only missing out on a playoff place due to their lesser divisional record compared to the Jets. Last weekend, they beat the Chargers 20-16.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers moved off the bottom of the NFL with a 41-28 thrashing of the Atlanta Falcons which ties both teams at a 2:8 record. The Oakland Raiders won another match between two sides realistically not in playoff contention as they beat the Houston Texans 28-23.
Indianapolis recovered from their shock thrashing against the St. Louis Rams last weekend to defeat the Tennessee Titans. The Colts trailed 14-0 last Thursday, but recovered to win 30-27.
And finally, the Arizona Cardinals continued their ever-improving season as they moved to 6:4 with a 27-14 defeat of the hapless Jacksonville Jaguars. The Cardinals are now tied with the 49ers 2013 win:loss record and could yet sneak a surprise wildcard slot.
Full List of Week Eleven Results:
Colts 30 (at the) 27 Titans, Jets 14 (at the) 37 Bills, Falcons 28 (at the) 41 Buccaneers, Lions 27 (at the) 37 Steelers, Redskins 16 (at the) 24 Eagles, Cardinals 27 (at the) 14 Jaguars, Raiders 28 (at the) 23 Texans, Ravens 20 (at the) 23 Bears, Browns 20 (at the) 41 Bengals, Chargers 16 (at the) 20 Dolphins, Packers 13 (at the) 27 Giants, Vikings 20 (at the) 41 Seahawks, 49ers 20 (at the) 23 Saints, Chiefs 17 (at the) 27 Broncos, Patriots 20 (at the) 24 Panthers, Bye Week – Cowboys & Rams.
Week Twelve Fixtures:
Saints (8:2) at the Falcons (2:8), Buccaneers (2:8) at the Lions (6:4), Vikings (2:8) at the Packers (5:5), Jaguars (1:9) at the Texans (2:8), Chargers (4:6) at the Chiefs (9:1), Panthers (7:3) at the Dolphins (5:5), Steelers (4:6) at the Browns (4:6), Bears (6:4) at the Rams (4:6), Jets (5:5) at the Ravens (4:6), Titans (4:6) at the Raiders (4:6), Colts (7:3) at the Cardinals (6:4), Cowboys (5:5) at the Giants (4:6), Broncos (9:1) at the Patriots (7:3), 49ers (6:4) at the Redskins (3:7), Bye Week – Bills, Bengals, Eagles, Seahawks.
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