Chiefs-Broncos Preview

Despite a sore right ankle, Peyton Manning is expected to play
in the Denver Broncos’ showdown with unbeaten Kansas City. So is
beleaguered Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.

Bowe was arrested this past weekend but is slated to start as
Kansas City tries to remain the NFL’s only perfect team after
Sunday night’s visit to Denver.

An MRI on Monday showed no additional damage to Manning’s ankle,
but he only participated in walkthroughs Wednesday.

“It’s certainly my preference to be out (at practice), but I’m
trying to do what’s best for the team in order for me to get
healthy,” Manning said.

The Broncos star has been dealing with a sore ankle since taking
hits to that area in back-to-back games last month. He took another
one in a 28-20 win in San Diego this past Sunday, but interim coach
Jack Del Rio said the veteran remains on track to start.

Manning will face a defense that has a league-best 36 sacks,
with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali combining for 20. Denver has
given up the second-fewest in the league (13), but eight have come
in the last three games. The biggest concern has been at left
tackle, where Chris Clark has been inconsistent since Ryan Clady
was lost for the season with a foot injury.

“(Manning) will definitely play this week so that’s good news,”
said Del Rio, who is leading the team while John Fox recovers from
heart surgery. “We’re definitely on high alert in wanting to
protect our quarterback. We didn’t do it as well as we could
(against San Diego), and we have an even greater challenge this
week in the team that’s sacked quarterbacks more than anyone in
this league.”

With four touchdowns and 330 yards against San Diego, Manning
remains on pace NFL single-season records in both categories. While
trying to stay on target to break those marks, he’ll seek to get
Denver (8-1) a share of first place in the AFC West and spoil
Kansas City’s attempt at a franchise-best start.

The Chiefs (9-0) enjoyed their bye week but didn’t emerge
unscathed as Bowe’s arrest Sunday could serve as a lingering
distraction.

The Pro Bowl wide receiver was pulled over for speeding in
Riverside, Mo., and also charged with possession of marijuana. Bowe
posted $750 bond and is set to appear in court Dec. 18.

Instead of talking to reporters earlier this week, Bowe chose to
apologize through a statement. The Chiefs cannot discipline one of
their all-time leading wide receivers for violating the league’s
substance-abuse policy, and he likely won’t face penalties until
after his court date. There’s a chance, however, that commissioner
Roger Goodell could potentially hand down a one-game suspension or
a fine.

‘”There are rules and regulations put in place and we’ll abide
by the rules and regulations, and we’ll make sure we take all of
the information that comes out as it goes through the process,”
coach Andy Reid said. “That’s where we’re going with it.”

“I addressed him, had that opportunity to talk to him, and I’ll
leave it at that. There are laws, rules and regulations, and I’ll
leave it at that.”

Bowe, who signed a five-year, $56 million extension before this
season, is currently on pace for one of the worst seasons in his
career. His 33 receptions are second on the team behind running
back Jamaal Charles’ 47, and he’s third in receiving yards with
369.

Bowe, however, has a combined 19 catches for 279 yards in his
last two visits to Denver. He missed last season’s trip due to
broken ribs but enters this one after registering season highs of
seven receptions and 67 yards in a 23-13 win in Buffalo on Nov.
3.

The Chiefs used defensive touchdowns from Hali and Sean Smith to
match their 9-0 start from 2003 and offset a season-low 210 yards
from their offense.

Alex Smith completed 65.5 percent of his passes (19 of 29) for a
season-low 124 yards, and will face the Broncos for the second time
in his career. He led San Francisco to a 26-23 overtime win in
Denver on Dec. 31, 2006.

Charles, the league’s fifth-leading rusher at 725 yards, has
enjoyed recent success against the Broncos with a combined 576
yards in the last five meetings. He had a total of 160 in last
season’s two games but couldn’t prevent Denver’s first season sweep
since 2007.

Manning threw for 589 yards and five touchdowns with just one
interception in those two wins. His three TD passes started a
streak of 31 unanswered points in a 38-3 home rout Dec. 30, and his
30-yard toss to Demaryius Thomas in the third quarter Nov. 25 put
the Broncos ahead for good in a 17-9 win in Kansas City.

Reid’s teams, though, have been historically successful
returning from byes. While in Philadelphia, he won 13 straight such
games until falling to then-unbeaten Atlanta last season.

The Chiefs and Broncos will meet again in Kansas City on Dec.
1.