Game of the Week: Chiefs can show they’re for real against Peyton Manning’s Broncos

Not only is Chiefs-Broncos the game of the week, it's arguably the game of the year, and statistically speaking, it's one of the biggest NFL regular-season games in decades.

Since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger, the combined winning percentage of the 9-0 Chiefs and 8-1 Broncos is the highest for a game this late in the season. The last time there was a higher combined winning percentage for a NFL game this late in the season was Dec. 7, 1969 when the 10-1 Vikings faced the 11-0 Rams.

Here's the list of the top five combined winning percentages since the merger, among games this late in the season (courtesy the Denver Broncos):

1. Kansas City (9-0) at Denver (8-1), 2013 (.944 win percentage).
2 (tie). Green Bay (10-1) at Dallas (10-1), 2007 (.909)
2 (tie). N.Y. Giants (10-1) at San Francisco (10-1), 1990 (.909)
4. Baltimore (9-1) at Denver (9-1), 1977 (.900)
5. Indianapolis (13-1) at Seattle (12-2), 2005 (.893)

The funny thing, however, is the undefeated team is still searching for respect in some circles.

The Chiefs have been one of the best stories in the NFL after a 2-14 debacle last year, but there's still some skepticism. Look no further than Las Vegas, which brought out the Broncos as eight-point favorites. That stems from the Chiefs' soft schedule, which doesn't include one team with a winning record. Kansas City has also faced four backup quarterbacks in their last five games. But the great start can be legitimized by a win on Sunday night, not to mention that the Chiefs would take a huge step toward winning the AFC West. The Broncos don't really care about the former, but the latter is not something they want to deal with, especially with their lofty goals this season.

The key to the game might be how the Broncos protect Peyton Manning. Manning was hit a few times last week by San Diego, and aggravated a high ankle sprain. He will play, but he has dealt with injuries to both ankles and his mobility might be an issue. That's not good news against the Chiefs, who lead the NFL with 36 sacks, three more than any other team. Denver's offensive line is a weakness, one that Kansas City could exploit in the NFL's premier matchup of Week 11.

Here are the other NFL games this week, from best to worst (all times Eastern, all games Sunday unless noted otherwise):

2. New England at Carolina, 8:40 p.m. (Monday): In almost any other week, this would be the marquee game. The Panthers come in as small favorites over a 7-2 Patriots team, and given how well their defense is playing, that respect is justified.

3. San Francisco at New Orleans, 4:25 p.m.: Another gem in a very good slate of Week 11 games. Since a close win against Atlanta, New Orleans has won its home games by 24, 21, 18 and 32 points.

4. Baltimore at Chicago, 1 p.m.: The Ravens refuse to go away, winning an overtime game against the Bengals last week to improve to 4-5. Their remaining schedule is tough, but the defending champs aren't dead yet.

5. Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1 p.m.: The Browns already have one win against the Bengals. Another win on Sunday and they'll be a half-game back in the AFC North and own the tiebreaker.

6. San Diego at Miami, 4:05 p.m.: The race for the AFC's sixth seed is wide open, and one of these two 4-5 contenders will be in trouble after a loss on Sunday.

7. Indianapolis at Tennessee, 8:25 p.m. (Thursday): This game lost a lot of luster last week when both teams suffered terrible losses. Still, it will be interesting to see how the Colts respond to a 38-8 loss at home to the Rams.

8. Washington at Philadelphia: 1 p.m.: The Eagles are 5-5 and the Redskins are 3-6, meaning that Washington's playoff hopes probably are officially dead without a win here.

9. N.Y. Jets at Buffalo, 1 p.m.: An interesting game between division rivals. The Jets are currently the final wild-card team, but a loss to Buffalo would be a big hit.

10. Detroit at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.: The Lions have had some bouts of inconsistency, and if there's a letdown spot for them, this might be it. Detroit won a close game last week at Chicago to take over first place in the NFC North.

11. Arizona at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.: It's amazing to think that if the Cardinals beat the 1-8 Jaguars, they'll be 6-4 and knocking on the NFC wild card door.

12. Green Bay at N.Y. Giants, 4:25 p.m.: The Giants lost six straight to start the season, but a win against the Scott Tolzien-led Packers would be their fourth straight win.

13. Minnesota at Seattle, 4:25 p.m.: Before you disregard this game, remember that the last time Seattle played at home it needed overtime to beat a then-winless Buccaneers team.

14. Oakland at Houston, 1 p.m.: The Raiders are concerned about quarterback Terrelle Pryor's knee, and really, there's not much reason to play him if he's not 100 percent.

15. Atlanta at Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.: Remember those winning percentage stats from Chiefs-Broncos? Well, these two teams come in at a cool .167 combined winning percentage.

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!