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Sunday Night Football Preview: Time to Move in the AFC West

Can Alex Smith defend his home turf against Peyton Manning and the Broncos?

Sunday Night's prime time contest between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Denver Broncos is a shining reason for why they play the games. The Chiefs, currently 7-4 and tied for second place in the highly competitive AFC West, are coming off a humiliating Thursday Night defeat at the hands of the previously winless Oakland Raiders. The casual fan looks at a game like this and probably asks how the Chiefs can possibly imagine being competitive with the dominant Broncos.

Kansas City is a "tough to gauge" type of team, with a top-10 offense according to our Adjusted Offensive Net Expected Points (NEP) per play metric, which measures effectiveness on a per play basis when factoring in strength of schedule. On the other side of the ball, they rank 19th in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. Your average spectator would assume these ranks would be flip flopped, as the Chiefs don't boast a high powered offensive unit and have seemingly played elite level defense, but numbers don't lie. They have an offense that can play with top flight opponents and a bend but not always break style of defense.

The Broncos, on the other hand, are exactly what you'd expect them to be when it comes to the numbers. At 8-3 and in first place in the division, they boast the second-most effective offense based on Adjusted Offensive NEP per play and the 13th-best defense in Adjusted Defensive NEP. They score points a plenty, led by Passing NEP leader Peyton Manning, two of the top three wide receivers in Reception NEP in Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders, and the suddenly elite CJ Anderson, who is seventh-best among all rushers in Rushing NEP. They also allow plenty of points - 23.6 points per game to be exact - despite ranking in the top half of the league in Adjusted Pass and Rush NEP per play. Simply put, teams have to score to keep up with Denver, and for the most part, they do, as seven opponents have scored 20 or more points against them.

We have division rivals on display in prime time, one in desperate need of a victory to keep pace in the playoff hunt and the other attempting to create space in one of the most competitive divisions in the league. Using our advanced metrics, let's see how this one plays out:

Inside the Box Score

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