The Denver Broncos made sure that one of the best matchups of the 2013 season was preserved.
The Broncos beat San Diego 28-20 to improve to 8-1. Next week, the 9-0 Chiefs come to Denver with first place in the AFC West on the line.
It won't get much better than that this season.
The Broncos didn't do anything to screw up the matchup, but looked surprisingly sluggish in the second. After taking a 28-6 lead early in the third quarter, Denver didn't score again. San Diego rallied to cut Denver's lead to 28-20 in the fourth quarter, but the Broncos' defense held.
Denver also got a quick scare in the final two minutes when quarterback Peyton Manning got up limping late in the game when he was hit low on the right knee by Corey Liguet. Manning went down for the trainers to come look at him, and the Broncos had to use a timeout in the final two minutes when he did, but he didn't miss any plays. It appears he was fine.
The Broncos did build that 28-6 lead against a Chargers team that is far, far better than its 4-5 record. Manning threw four touchdowns, including three to Demaryius Thomas. The Broncos' defense played one of its better games of the season, holding Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to 218 yards and just one touchdown.
Both teams should go into next Sunday night's showdown feeling pretty good. For the Chiefs, it's a chance to validate a great start that has come against the weakest schedule in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders' metrics. For the Broncos, they can't afford to fall two games behind the Chiefs in the AFC West race, with a game at Arrowhead Stadium coming up two weeks later.
Two great rivals with a combined 17-1 record square off next week. You can't ask for a much better regular-season setting.
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