Bron­cos bat­tle ri­val Chiefs in the race to catch Raiders

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LOS AN­GE­LES:

The Su­per Bowl cham­pion Den­ver Bron­cos em­bark on the clos­ing stretch of the Na­tional Foot­ball League sea­son with a mar­quee con­test to­mor­row against an­other 7-3 team, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bron­cos will be well-rested as they are com­ing off a bye week which helped some of their in­jured play­ers get healthy ahead of their first meet­ing of the sea­son against the Chiefs. “It’s a new year and a new bat­tle,” Bron­cos coach Gary Ku­biak said. “I think this team is re­ally ex­cited: the coaches, the or­ga­ni­za­tion, ev­ery­body. We’re there with six weeks to play. “We have a lot of big foot­ball games to play in. We’re all ex­cited. You can feel it around here.”

So can the Chiefs, who are in the thick of the chase for a play­off berth as well. The two teams are tied for se­cond place in the AFC West, one game be­hind the Oakland Raiders. The game, orig­i­nally sched­uled in the af­ter­noon, was moved to a prime-time evening matchup. “I don’t think you could make it any big­ger or more in­tense than it al­ready is,” said Chiefs quar­ter­back Alex Smith. “The way the divi­sion has gone to this point, it’s al­ready pretty tight. “This is our first crack at these guys and they’re the de­fend­ing Su­per Bowl cham­pi­ons. We’ve been in a lot of bat­tles with these guys over the years.”

Den­ver has leaned on its staunch de­fense this sea­son. But the of­fense has shown progress un­der the di­rec­tion of quar­ter­back Trevor Siemian, whose seven wins are the se­cond most by a Bron­cos quar­ter­back in his first nine ca­reer starts in fran­chise his­tory. “He hasn’t had that much con­sis­tency,” Chiefs line­backer Der­rick John­son said. “He’s not very tall in the pocket, but some­how he is still mak­ing all the throws he needs to make. So hats off to that. “You’d think a shorter guy like him should have some prob­lems see­ing back there. He’s pretty com­fort­able. Hope­fully, we can make him un­com­fort­able. That’s our plan.”

Play­off lives

In other key con­tests to­mor­row, the Raiders square off against the Carolina Pan­thers who are fight­ing for their play­off lives. Carolina quar­ter­back Cam New­ton is the Pan­thers pri­mary weapon for pass­ing and run­ning and will try to keep it close. Af­ter slow­ing down the New Or­leans Saints to keep their slim play­off hopes alive, the Pan­thers have to fig­ure out how to do the same against the high-fly­ing Raiders. Tom Brady and the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots travel to New York to face the Jets, with the star quar­ter­back look­ing to es­tab­lish more records this sea­son. Brady is rolling and should be able to at­tack the Jets’ de­fense with ef­fi­cient throws up the mid­dle of the field.

He needs just 57 yards to­mor­row to be­come the fifth quar­ter­back in his­tory to throw for 60,000 yards. Brady has com­pleted 70.4 per­cent of his passes-with 16 touch­downs and one in­ter­cep­tion-in the six games since his re­turn from his four-game De­flate­gate sus­pen­sion. The Pa­tri­ots are 5-1 in those six games to sit at 8-2 in pur­suit of their fifth Su­per Bowl ti­tle. In other games to­mor­row it is, the Ari­zona Car­di­nals at Atlanta Fal­cons, Cincin­nati Ben­gals at Bal­ti­more Ravens, Jacksonville Jaguars at Buf­falo Bills, Ten­nessee Ti­tans at Chicago Bears, New York Gi­ants at Cleve­land Browns, San Diego Charg­ers at Hous­ton Tex­ans, San Fran­cisco 49ers at Miami Dol­phins, Los An­ge­les Rams at New Or­leans Saints and Seat­tle Sea­hawks at Tampa Bay Buc­ca­neers. — AFP

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