Chiefs vs. Broncos: Final Grades, Analysis for Denver
FINAL Broncos 38, Chiefs 3
Thanks to the Indianapolis Colts defeating the Houston Texans, the road in the AFC playoffs now goes through Denver after the Broncos soundly defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-3 on Sunday, their 11th straight victory.
Denver took advantage of a hapless Chiefs offense and had the game well in hand by halftime.
The Chiefs fall to 2-14 on the season and will have the No.1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
For live game grades and analysis, click forward.
Peyton Manning: A+
Manning was nearly perfect on Sunday, completing 23-of-29 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns, finishing with a 144.8 QB rating.
Manning had touchdown throws of 11, 16 and 13 yards and finished the regular season with nine 300-yard passing games.
Brock Osweiler: B-
Osweiler got his most extensive action of the season, working the entire fourth quarter. He mostly handed the ball off before doing what he has done the previous two games, taking a knee out of the victory formation.
He did throw four passes, completing two of them for 12 yards.
Knowshon Moreno: B+
Moreno only carried the ball 15 times for 44 yards on Sunday, averaging less than three yards per carry, but he did score on a 3-yard run in the first quarter, his fourth touchdown of the season. He also caught one pass for 10 yards.
Ronnie Hillman: D
Hillman was only given three carries on Sunday and on the third of those, he coughed it up. Chiefs defensive back Brandon Flowers scooped it up and returned it 64 yards the other way, forcing Manning to make a touchdown-saving tackle. Hillman was relegated to the bench following the fumble.
Lance Ball: B+
Ball was actually the Broncos' leading rusher on Sunday, gaining 66 yards on 15 carries. He saw a lot of work following the benching of Hillman. Ball ran in a 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the Broncos up 35-3.
Jacob Hester: A
Hester is turning into quite the free agent find for the Broncos and is becoming a bigger contributor each week. Sunday, he carried the ball seven times for 55 yards, a 7.9 yard average. He also made his first catch of the season, a 7 yard gain on 3rd-and-6 in the first quarter.
Eric Decker: A+
Due to the play of Manning, the Broncos have one of the most dangerous wide receiver tandems in the NFL.
Decker caught two touchdown passes against the Chiefs to give him 13 on the season, one of which was a nice one-handed stab just before halftime.
Decker finished the day with seven receptions for 76 yards and the two scores. He also went over 1,000 yards on the season, giving Denver two 1,000 yard receivers in the same season for the first time since 2004.
Demaryius Thomas: A+
Thomas has turned in an incredible 2012 campaign, becoming Manning's favorite target. He finished with seven receptions for 122 yards and not to be outdone by Decker, he made a terrific one-handed grab in the end zone himself.
Thomas finishes the regular season with 94 catches for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Brandon Stokley: B+
Stokley opened the game with a 29-yard reception to set the tone for the first drive. He had three catches for 49 yards on the day.
Matthew Willis: C
Willis wasn't a big part of the game plan, catching the only ball that was thrown his way and turning it into a five yard gain.
Andre Caldwell: N/A
Caldwell saw some action in the late stages of the game, once most of the starters had been pulled. He had two balls thrown in his direction but failed to make a catch.
Caldwell finished the regular season by making just one catch. He was one of the few disappointments for this Broncos team.
Jacob Tamme: C
Tamme only had one reception against Kansas City, a 13-yard completion. Manning targeted him three times. He did have a strong season, however, making 52 grabs.
Joel Dreessen: C+
Dreessen managed to catch two balls in the game for 15 yards and a long of 12 yards. Dreessen finishes the regular season with a career high 41 catches.
Virgil Green: B
Green has been used very sparingly this season but saw a lot of action on Sunday. He made two catches for 19 yards.
Overall Grade: A
It was a solid outing for the Broncos offensive line as they opened up plenty of holes to create space for 172 yards rushing. More importantly, they kept Manning upright and didn't allow a single sack.
The offensive line was penalized just one time, a 5-yard false start call against Ryan Clady.
They also had Chris Kuper in the lineup and with a week of rest coming due to the bye, that is a very good sign.
Kevin Vickerson: A
Vickerson looked as good as he has all year on Sunday, making five tackles, two of which were for a loss. Vickerson has become very good against the run and will be a valuable asset in the postseason.
Derek Wolfe: A
Wolfe completed a very good rookie campaign with a sack in a third consecutive game. Wolfe has proven to be worth the draft pick Denver used on him and could become one of the game's better defensive players.
Elvis Dumervil: B
Dumervil made just one official tackle on Sunday, but Kansas City seemed to run most of their offense away from him.
Robert Ayers: B
Ayers saw some action late in this game and made two tackles along with getting a hit on Brady Quinn.
Justin Bannan: B
Getting the start at defensive tackle, Bannan made just one tackle in the game, but was solid in helping against the run. Jamaal Charles was held to 53 yards on the ground after going for over 200 a week ago.
Von Miller: A
While J.J. Watt may well get defensive player of the year honors, Miller has just as much claim to it. He had another sack on Sunday to give him 18.5 for the season, a new Broncos franchise record. There were only four games this entire season where Miller didn't get a sack.
Wesley Woodyard: B+
Woodyard, the team leader in tackles, added four more on Sunday and capped off a very good season.
Keith Brooking: A
Brooking had two tackles in the game to go along with a pass deflection, but he also came on a blitz in the third quarter to get his first sack of the season, dumping Quinn for an 8-yard loss.
D.J. Williams: C-
Williams made only one tackle on Sunday on the heels of not recording a defensive stat of any sort against Cleveland last Sunday.
Steven Johnson: B
Reserve linebacker Steven Johnson is one of Denver's best special teams players and that was where he nearly made a huge play on Sunday, punching the ball from the arms of Chiefs' return man Devon Wylie on a kick return. The Chiefs were able to recover the loose ball.
Champ Bailey: A
With the Chiefs attempting just 16 passes in the game, the Broncos' defensive backs weren't challenged too much in the game, allowing them all to play closer to the line of scrimmage.
Bailey made three tackles in the game, the most impressive of which was when he stopped running back Shaun Draughn for a two yard loss after a reception.
Chris Harris: B
Harris had two tackles and a pass deflection on Sunday, getting the majority of the playing time with Tracy Porter inactive again.
Rahim Moore: A+
Moore played a great game, maybe his best of the year. He led the team with eight tackles and had a sack of Quinn.
Mike Adams: B
Adams made three tackles in the game and deflected a pass. With no deep threat being posed by the Chiefs, Adams came up from his safety spot to help keep Charles in check.
Tony Carter: B
Carter has given way to Harris for playing time, but he still can make a play when he is inserted into the game. He made a nice knock down of a pass thrown by Quinn in the first quarter on 3rd-and-6 that was intended for Wylie.
Matt Prater: A
Prater scored eight of Denver's 38 points in this one, making five extra points and booting through a 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Prater finished the regular season by making 26 of his 32 field goal attempts.
Britton Colquitt: B
With his brother on the other team, Colquitt averaged 44.7 yards on three punts, placing one of those inside the 20-yard line. He had a long punt of 53 yards.
Return Team: C
Although Kansas City didn't give Denver much of a chance by pounding every kickoff deep into the end zone, the Broncos really missed the presence of Trindon Holliday.
Omar Bolden and Jim Leonhard handled kickoff and punt return duties and the Broncos managed just seven total yards in returns.
Kick Coverage: B
Devon Wylie returned three kicks for 69 yards and one punt for 11 yards. He did have a ball stripped by Johnson, but the Chiefs were able to get the ball back.
Overall Grade: A
The Broncos easily won this game, but the Chiefs were clearly overmatched. It was good to see Manning and most of the starters taken out in favor of some reserves once the game was out of hand, though they could have been taken out sooner.
What Manning does on the field is the key to the offense. He simply dissected the Kansas City defense on Sunday and made it look almost too easy.
Because of the year the team has had, both offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio will likely receive consideration for some of the vacant head coaching positions this offseason. Since Denver has a first-round bye, they may even be contacted for interviews as early as this week.