There is no accepted blueprint for stopping Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos’ offense, or else everyone in the NFL would be using it every week. Smart people in the league cannot agree on a set of best defensive practices, other than the generic stuff that applies to slowing every opponent. “Generating an effective pass rush” isn’t what we’re looking for here. We want specifics to better understand the Week 11 matchup between Manning's 8-1 Broncos and the 9-0 Kansas City Chiefs.
Here's the thing. NFL defenses could be getting closer to a plan for Manning: The past four teams Denver played slowed the quarterback to some degree. In Week 6, Jacksonville held the Broncos to 14 points into the third quarter. A week later, Indianapolis held Denver to 17 points into the fourth quarter. Week 8 saw Washington hold Denver to seven points until midway through the third quarter. Last week, San Diego held the Broncos to a season-low 28 points coming out of Denver's bye.
Now come the Chiefs, who play a different style of defense -- one that creates intriguing possibilities. How do the Chiefs match up? How much will they change for Manning after facing Blaine Gabbert, Terrelle Pryor, Jeff Tuel, Eli Manning, Michael Vick, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, Jason Campbell and Tony Romo? How has Manning generally fared over the years when facing elite defenses? Those are the questions. And depending on whom you ask, they yield different answers.
A veteran NFL quarterback familiar with the Broncos said keeping the defensive plan simple is the best way to go. A defensive coordinator advocated a different approach entirely. Another defensive coach went into the film room for a look at how Kansas City’s league-leading defense might defend Manning & Co. We break down all three plans, and more, below.