5 Days to Denver: Broncos Health Issues

With the big game set for Sunday night, the Denver Broncos are battling some injuries. On the flip side, the Chiefs are a healthy 53- man bunch. So does that give Kansas City the edge in this game?

On Monday morning, the NFL word was anxiously awaiting the MRI results of Denver Broncos Quarterback, Peyton Manning. As expected they noted that his high ankle sprain was an aggravation. What the organization failed to mention was the fact this was a new injury they suspected he had but not entirely clear until the Broncos medical staff reviewed the MRI.

So that means Manning has two lower ankle sprains (one on each leg) and a high ankle sprain on his right leg. Add those dings with the fact some believe Manning has a wounded right wing thanks to the hit he took from Indianapolis Colts Defensive End, Robert Mathis, a few weeks back.

Manning enters the Chiefs contest with zero mobility, unable to really throw the deep ball like he used to in the old days and lastly he faces the best defense in the NFL. One would think the Chiefs have a huge advantage. Sure they do but he's still Peyton Manning.

On the cusp of the preparations this week Chiefs Head Coach, Andy Reid, understands what's at stake. He knows there's nothing in Manning's body or mind that's going to keep him from getting on that field Sunday night to face the Chiefs. He'll take his injections like a man and be out of the field hoping his body can withstand the Chiefs defense onslaught.

That fact in hand, Reid knows this is a must win game for the Broncos. Down a game to Kansas City in the standings Denver has all the pressure on them to win this opening salvo. Granted this grudge match is important to the Chiefs as well they still have a return of serve on December 1st in Kansas City. So they aren't feeling any added pressure to win this game.

Sure they're going to eat up the respect card this week but that's hardly a factor in this game. What we learned Monday, after the players returned from the Bye Week, Reid had his game face on and it would appear he wisely spent the off week devising more ways to defeat the Broncos.

Denver just came off a hard fought game against the San Diego Chargers and they took a few more hits against their AFC west rival. But the spotlight of the injuries they suffered in that game falls somewhere in the who cares category. All that matters this week is the health of Peyton Manning.

The Chiefs on the flip side had max participation on Monday. Meaning every member of the 53-man roster was on the field in full pads. Still nobody cares about the Chiefs health.

In Denver, Manning likely won't even see much of the practice field this week. Instead he'll be on the sidelines throwing a bit to loosen up his sore shoulder or in the locker room getting treatment from the medical staff on his trio of sprained ankles.

Even though Manning is one tough Hombre, I suspect the men behind the scenes in Denver are crossing their fingers that he can survive the next three games, two against the Chiefs and the other game on the road against the New England Patriots.

For me, I want Manning at his best because should the Chiefs win Sunday night, which I'm beginning to lean in that direction, I want him to be 100% and on top of his game. I don't want to hear from NFL pundits that he was hurt or anything like that if the Chiefs beat and batter him. If they win, they earned it on the merits of their players versus those on the Broncos sidelines.

Yet Manning's health will be the big story line this week. For those that follow the Vegas line, this game opened at 8.5 and is down to 7.5 thanks to uncertainty of Manning's injuries. If more rumblings occur his issues are more severe, the point spread will continue to fall.

On the flip side, the Chiefs are as healthy as they've been since opening day. They enjoyed a week of rest to rejuvenate their bodies and based on full participation were itching to get back on the practice field on Monday to begin prep for the Broncos.

Again does that matter? I suspect the Chiefs coaches didn't have to tell the players that a healthy or injured Manning isn't going to decide the outcome of this game. I'm sure when practice ended on Monday, Reid told his players the opportunity that awaits them. What they do with it will ultimately define their season.

Since the 90's those opportunities have slipped through the cracks and left a bad taste in the mouth of this once proud organization. As they find themselves today, the memory of those heart breaking defeats and failed expectations, appear to be gone. I truly believe in that locker room the past is the past and the future is all that matters now.

So whatever happens on Sunday Night, win or lose the Chiefs focus has to lie within their ability to defeat the only player that can prevent them from going 10-0, that's Peyton Manning.

Injured or not Manning is the key linchpin to the Chiefs success or failure. Generally that's been a deal breaker for Kansas City when they've faced the future hall of fame quarterback in the past. But we're not going there anymore, we're looking at the present.

Still this go round, something appears to be different with the man who has tormented the Chiefs in his brilliant career. But perhaps age has finally caught up to Manning. Thus the Chiefs with a victory have the opportunity to take their rightful place as the new kings of the AFC West.

Should that occur Sunday night, they won't be considered a fluke anymore. They'll become a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Will Chiefs win be tainted if Manning isn't healthy?

For all the news, notes and quotes on the Chiefs, visit WarpaintIllustrated.com