This Sunday’s regular-season finale between the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos pits two division rivals against each other for the second time this season as they ring in the new year.
In any season, that’s enough to get the blood flowing and adrenaline pumping as the players gear up for the contest throughout the week.
Except this time, it means much more.
Not only are the Broncos going against the Chiefs for the 103rd time in the regular season — only the Chargers have played more regular season games against the Broncos with 104 — but they’ll be going against their former starting quarterback from the first half of this season with a playoff spot on the line.
“At the end of the day it comes down to beating the man across from you and us executing well,” Defensive end Robert Ayers said. “That’s about it. He [QB Kyle Orton] does know us, but we feel like we know the Chiefs, too. It’s a division team, and with all the scouting reports and all the stuff that helps us know the other team, that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
But Ayers was quick to play down the hype regarding his former teammate.
“It’s going to be fun as it always is, but I’m not going to think too much into this whole Kyle Orton thing,” Ayers said. “We’re fighting for something that’s big, and we want to go to the playoffs. That’s all I’m focusing on.”
Ayers’ current teammates have also downplayed any notion that Orton and the Chiefs have an advantage because of his time in Denver and familiarity with the offense playbook and defensive players. A lot has changed since the Broncos waived the veteran quarterback, and any insights Orton can give the Chiefs will be negated by the fact the Broncos defense went against him — in practice every day — more than anybody this year.
“(Orton’s possible advantage) is about as equal as it will be for our defense having practiced against Kyle.,” Head Coach John Fox said.
In the end, the game will be played by more than just one person. As Fox and the players have been saying all week, it’ll come down to the Denver Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Several Broncos players might catch up with their former teammate on the field before the game, but once the clock starts, the Broncos will be focused on winning and making the playoffs.
“You can know everybody all you want, but once you get hit in the mouth on the first play, all that goes out the window,” Elvis Dumervil said.
CHAMP BAILEY NAMED RECIPIENT OF GOOD GUY AWARD
One day after being named to the Pro Bowl, cornerback Champ Bailey received another honor, as he was named the fifth-annual Darrent Williams Good Guy Award recipient.
The award is named after Williams, a former Bronco, who passed away on Jan. 1, 2007 after completing his second year with the team. The recipient is chosen by members of the local media, who give the award to the person that best exemplifies Williams’ enthusiasm, cooperation and honesty while dealing with members of the press.
Bailey will receive the award after Thursday’s practice. Previous award winners are: Mario Haggan (2010), Elvis Dumervil (2009), Ebenezer Ekuban (2008) and John Lynch (2007).
STATISTICAL CHANGE FROM SUNDAY’S GAME
The NFL announced a statistical change on quarterback Tim Tebow’s second interception that was returned for a touchdown Sunday by Bills defensive end Spencer Johnson.
At the time, the play that occurred with 7:55 left in the fourth quarter was ruled as an interception. However, it has now been changed to a sack-fumble.
Here is Wednesday’s injury report.
For the Broncos:
DID NOT PRACTICE: Safety Brian Dawkins (neck).
LIMITED: Safety David Bruton (Achilles), cornerback Chris Harris (neck).
FULL: Safety Quinton Carter (hip), linebacker Von Miller (thumb).
For the Chiefs:
DID NOT PRACTICE: Running back Jackie Battle (foot).
LIMITED: Safety John McGraw (ankle).
Below are some photos from Wednesday’s practice.