NFL: Denver Broncos face Kansas City Chiefs live on Sky Sports
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 01/12/13 1:26pm
Julius Thomas of the Denver Broncos completes a reception against the Kansas City Chiefs
The AFC West is on the line when the Chiefs and Broncos renew rivalries just two weeks after Denver nosed ahead with a win in their first meeting - but both teams have problems coming into Sunday's live Sky Sports game.
Home field advantage should count for something for Kansas City with Arrowhead as loud as any ground in the league, but the Chiefs have lost the last two games - arguably their two biggest games of the season.
Defeats to Denver and San Diego, both divisional rivals, came with record points allowed by a fearsome defence that has lost its way the last two weeks - and will be without 11-sack man Justin Houston while Tamba Hali (nine sacks) has been slowed by an ankle problem.
The Chargers grabbed a last-minute win at Arrowhead last week and both Philip Rivers and Peyton Manning have had largely untroubled games the last two weeks, combing for 715 yards passing, something the Chiefs will look to improve on with their second chance at Manning.
"Just like we were doing when we were winning, we need to go back and see what's up and correct it and just keep going to work," said Chiefs safety Eric Berry. "It's not the end of the world. But we do have a sense of urgency this week to get the things corrected that we see on tape."
For this first time this season, both Denver and Kansas City go into the weekend on the back of defeats, and while the Chiefs lost late on, the manner of Denver's record collapse from a 24-point lead will also be a huge worry.
"Hated the way that ended, not getting a chance to get our hands on the ball," Manning said. "We helped them with some short fields. It's hard to do that to our defence."
Of course, Alex Smith is not Tom Brady, but more of a concern was Manning's own 150-yard throwing performance, a season low by some margin, and their four team turnovers will also need to be corrected against a Chiefs defence anywhere near their best.
Both Denver's defeats this year have been away from home as well, so that will give the Chiefs hope as more pressure is likely on their shoulders after back-to-back defeats - and they will know they need to show more offensive intent than they did in Denver.
Knownshon Moreno collected a whopping 224 yards last week and he will play despite an ankle injury, and having tight end and touchdown machine Julius Thomas back after missing last week should also be a bonus.
Either team could clinch a play-off spot with a win and a complicated series of results elsewhere, but more importantly will be striking a blow in the race for home field advantage.
Rookie running back Zac Stacy will play for the Rams as they face the 49ers in San Francisco in what is their last chance to mount a serious play-off challenge at 5-6 and two games behind both the Niners and Arizona.
San Francisco look to be chasing the wild card with Seattle now well in front, but closing to within two games with the Seahawks facing the Saints on Monday would put some pressure on with the two rivals still to meet once more this season.
Cincinnati still lead the AFC North but face a Chargers team still more than capable of nabbing a play-off spot, but with the state of their defence Philip Rivers will be once again asked to win a likely shootout.
That could pile the pressure on Andy Dalton, who has a superb armoury of weapons but is still not convinced the majority that he can lead his team to a deep play-off run despite the talent on the squad.
The Falcons head to Toronto to face the Buffalo Bills with the Canadian public being treated to a game between two sides mainly focused on looking at next season, while the Giants can cling to their slight play-off hopes if they beat Washington in the last national game.
Watch both Sunday's NFL games live on Sky Sports 2 from 5.30pm, and watch every TD on NFL Red Zone online at Sky Sports Xtra.