ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Think of all that Justin Simmons has accomplished in his six NFL seasons.
He has been a Pro Bowler and a second-team All Pro. He was briefly the league’s highest-paid safety and is still the third-richest with an average payout of $15.2 million per year. He has leaped over tall blockers in a single bound to block an extra point and win a game, causing the league to change the rule so such athletic feats are no longer allowed. He played every defensive snap for 3 ½ seasons.
Yet, Simmons has never beaten the Chiefs.
Courtland Sutton has been a 1,000-yard receiver, a Pro Bowler and recent recipient of a four-year, $60 million contract extension.
He has never beaten the Chiefs.
Bradley Chubb was a No. 5 overall draft pick, set a franchise rookie record for sacks, make the Pro Bowl and after collecting a $17.92 million signing bonus in year one, he’s guaranteed to make another $12.7 million in year five.
He has never beaten the Chiefs.
No player other than kicker Brandon McManus has ever put on a Broncos’ uniform and beat the Kansas City Chiefs. That’s what happens when you lose 11 in a row to a team, a skid that goes back longer than six years.
"Yeah. It’s extremely personal," Simmons, who was a third-round rookie in 2016 and is personally 0-9 despite 3 interceptions vs. the Chiefs, said Sunday following his team’s victory against the Chargers. "No matter what I say up here -- no matter how good it sounds, bad it sounds -- you have to go deal with it. No one cares what it looks like. All anyone cares about is that win-loss column. That’s what we have to do: Find a way to win."
The 6-5 Broncos will play the 7-4 and five-time defending AFC West Division-champion Chiefs this Sunday night at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs have Patrick Mahomes II. And the Broncos don’t. The Chiefs have Andy Reid, whose teams are 19-3 coming off a regular-season bye. And the Broncos don’t.
"I think you’d find some similar records from when they were playing without a bye," Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said Monday. "They’ve won a ton of games in Kansas City since he’s been there, particularly since Mahomes has been the quarterback. … They were winning games whether bye week or no bye week. And that’s still the case."
Reid is 98-41 in his nine seasons in Kansas City for a .705 winning percentage, 45-14 for a .763 winning percentage in the four seasons since Mahomes became his starting quarterback. Both marks, while impressive, are quite .864 game-after-bye good. But we get Fangio’s point.
Sutton publicly stated his hate – hate, he said – for the Chiefs a couple years ago. He was No. 2 in the Broncos’ 2018 draft to Chubb’s No. 1.
"That hatred runs deep," Chubb said Monday. "And when we do get over that hump everybody is going to be rejoicing and moving on to the next one. And I feel like that’s what we’ve got to do, knock this one out and keep moving forward."
The Chiefs were struggling early this season, then fixed their defense to the point they carried a four-game winning streak into their bye this past weekend. So it’s not like the bye can help them that much. They are a 10-point favorite against the Broncos but the last time Denver was a double-digit underdog it went up 30-0 on the Cowboys.
Consider, too, the Broncos’ rookie class of Pat Surtain II, Javonte Williams, Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning have never lost to the Chiefs. Haven’t beat them, but an 0-0 record looks pretty good compared to 0-11.
And Broncos quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has defeated the Chiefs. He was with the Vikings then and it occurred four weeks after the Broncos last win against the Chiefs, which was way back to early in the 2015 season. But Teddy does know what it feels like to quarterback a team to victory against the Chiefs.
As of this time last week, the game was going to kick off at 11 a.m. MST. But the NBC network and league executives were so intrigued by the matchup, they moved it back 7 hours and 20 minutes to a 6:20 p.m. kickoff on Sunday Night Football. Are the Broncos ready for prime time? Are they ready to move into a tie for the divisional lead this late in the season? Are they ready to beat the Chiefs?
It’s been so long since a Bronco has been able to answer those questions in the affirmative, none of their current players save the kicker has proven it.
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