The Denver Broncos headlined their third straight NFL Sunday on Dec. 1. After the Broncos beat the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 17 and collapsed to the New England Patriots a week later, the rematch against the Chiefs in Kansas City was their rubber match. But the biggest stretch of Denver’s season -- at least until January -- ended with a 35-28 victory that put the Broncos in total control of the AFC.
The day didn’t start well for the Broncos, as the Chiefs jumped to a 21-7 lead while Peyton Manning racked up two quick interceptions. But just when it looked like Manning would have his second straight rough week, he turned to Eric Decker.
By the time the Chiefs scored again, Manning had racked up five touchdowns, four of which landed in Decker’s arms. With the Broncos up by 35-21, the Chiefs needed a seven-minute plus drive that spanned the third and fourth quarter just to get within seven points. Yet when Denver couldn’t score on its next drive, Kansas City marched all the way to the red zone in quick order.
At first, it looked like the Chiefs would score too quickly and leave Manning too much time to break the tie. But Kansas City forgot to score first, as Alex Smith couldn’t punch the ball in. For the second straight week, Smith was able to keep up in a shootout with an AFC West rival at home, although he couldn’t win it.
As such, the Chiefs are stuck in the No. 5 AFC seed, since even a three-game losing streak still leaves them three games up on those fighting for No. 6. With the Broncos holding a virtual two-game lead in the AFC West, and with no more winning teams left on their regular season schedule, the No. 1 seed and division title is almost wrapped up – although the Patriots are still one game down with a tie breaker in hand.
The rest of the action on Dec. 1 had its share of playoff implications as well. The accompanying slideshow lists the best and worst games of the day, although the best of Week 13 overall may be still to come in Seattle -- where the NFC’s own top seed is on the line.