Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Manning Still the Man to Watch for Teams with Eye on AFC West Title

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: Manning Still the Man to Watch for Teams with Eye on AFC West Title

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some go as far as to spread out their attire in advance. Most know in their heads what to wear.

Red Thursday. When the date is observed in Arrowhead Stadium, the gear pops just a little more.

Come kickoff, however, the focus will be on one player who has rubbed the red out better than a Maytag spinning with industrial bleach in searing heat.

Peyton Manning is visiting Arrowhead and he could either be:

- Deteriorating ... in the eyes of not only critics, but also fans of the Denver Broncos, who watch as their quarterback's dead arm fails him.

Or ...

- Defiant ... if a 13-1 personal record against the Kansas City Chiefs stirs enough confidence for Manning to prevail in this early AFC West showdown.

"I don't know if it's really worth trying to explain," Manning said this week when asked of his dominance against KC on a conference call with Chiefs reporters.

Nutshell: Manning and the Broncos have been so dominant -- a 6-0 record against the Chiefs since the future Hall of Famer came to Denver -- that it makes no sense riling anyone in KC with a recap.

Nonetheless, Chiefs fans, resplendent in red, will be thinking this year is different.

Thinking Manning is, finally, past his prime and unable to connect, even when his receivers have a step or two on defenders.

Thinking Manning cannot deliver in the red zone, or even get his offense there, failing to throw TD strikes in three of his last five regular-season games, including last week's win against Baltimore.

Thinking the Broncos, in large part because of their aging QB, are vulnerable ... in spite of a defense that looked terrific in Week 1, fortified by a pick-six from former Kansas great Aqib Talib.

"The thing that I'm really trying to remind people is that it's a Bronco unit," Manning said. …

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