Chiefs vs. Broncos: Denver's Biggest Winners and Losers from Week 17
The chips all fell the right way for the Denver Broncos today.
The loss knocked Houston out as the No. 1 seed, provided either Denver or New England won their games.
The Broncos didn't allow for much drama.
They jumped on the visiting Kansas City Chiefs early and never let them back up, blowing them out 38-3.
The win locks up home-field advantage for the Broncos throughout the playoffs.
Here are the winners and losers from the final regular-season game for the 2012 Denver Broncos.
Loser: The Kansas City Chiefs
I know this slideshow is supposed to be about the Broncos, but I didn't really expect the Chiefs to just roll over and quit.
Yes, they were 2-13 coming into the game, but they always played hard if not well.
Attendance is down in Kansas City which tells you all you need to know about this year's team.
Chief's fans are as passionate as any in the NFL, so when they stop going to games, you know the product is really poor.
Today did nothing to make them feel any better.
The Chiefs gave a little effort early, but then, when things went bad, they threw in the towel.
Winner: Joel Dreessen
He had just two catches for 15 yards.
So how does he make the list?
Well, early on when the game was still in the balance, Dreessen made a very key play.
Leading 7-0, Denver was driving for more points when they fumbled the ball at the Kansas City 27 yard line.
Chiefs defensive back Brandon Flowers scooped up the loose ball and was heading down the sideline.
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning got in the way enough to slow Flowers down, and Dreessen hustled back to make a touchdown-saving tackle at the Denver 12-yard line.
The Chiefs offense failed to convert a first down and was forced to kick a 23-yard field goal.
Holding Kansas City to just a field goal was a big early win for the Broncos.
Loser: Trindon Holliday
Holliday was placed on the inactive list prior to today's game.
According to reports, it was because of a tender ankle, but I don't think his placement on the inactive list was injury-related. I think is was another health-related issue.
Holliday has had ball-security issues, and after putting a ball on the ground against the Cleveland Browns last week, I believe the coaching staff sat him down.
There is no question that Holliday can be a force, and a big play on special teams could give the team a major lift.
It could also put your defense in a big hole if you turn it over.
The Broncos need Holliday to get healthy and bring his A-game.
Winner: Eric Decker
Another Sunday and another two touchdowns for Eric Decker.
He has been on a tear lately.
In the final four games of the season, Decker has 29 catches for 362 yards and five touchdowns.
That is a season for many receivers.
Decker's one-handed catch at the end of the first half was simply amazing.
I feel I must give an honorable mention here to Demaryius Thomas who caught seven balls for 122 yards and a single touchdown.
But what's better than one touchdown?
Loser: The Rest of the AFC
Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium is not all that friendly for opposing teams.
And now with the Broncos clinching home-field advantage Super Bowl XLVII will go through it.
Breathing can be a problem here in the high altitude. It isn't a coincidence that the Broncos have beaten opponents 146-76 in the fourth quarter.
This Peyton Manning hurry-up offense can make you very weary late.
Then, add into the equation that the Broncos have a league-leading 48 sacks.
Those pass-rushers have a distinct advantage at home when the crowd noise limits how quick your offensive linemen can move at the snap.
Opposing quarterbacks can't be too enamored with coming to the Mile High City.
Winner: Derek Wolfe
I will be the first to admit that I was not pleased with the Broncos' selection of Derek Wolfe in the NFL draft.
But, Wolfe has stayed healthy, and he plays very hard on every snap.
Does it help that he plays alongside Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil?
But, Wolfe is starting to make plays on his own, too.
He notched his sixth sack of the season on Sunday, dropping Brady Quinn for a five-yard loss in the second quarter.
That gives him three sacks in the past three weeks.
Loser: Knowshon Moreno
Moreno has been the surprise of the second half of the season, but he limped off the field in the first half and seemed largely ineffective afterward.
He did return but finished with 15 carries for just 44 yards.
Maybe it was the scheme, or maybe, the Chiefs really geared up to stop him, but it looked to me like Moreno didn't have the same explosion.
He finished the game with just a 2.9 average per carry.
Injured running back Willis McGahee is not able to return until at least the AFC championship game, so the Broncos can't afford to lose Moreno too.
Let's hope Knowshon will be healthy for the playoffs.
Winner: Peyton Manning
You start to run out of adjectives with Peyton Manning.
Competitive, intense, a winner, a perfectionist.
They all apply here.
Manning has been even better than advertised this year for the Broncos.
On Sunday, he finished the game 23-of-29 for 304 yards and three more touchdowns.
He jumped on the Chiefs from the start, taking the Broncos 69 yards in just over three minutes for a quick touchdown on Denver's first drive.
He has rewritten a number of Denver passing records this season, including most touchdown passes in a single season, throwing No. 37 on Sunday.
Loser: Ronnie Hillman
Not much to complain about overall for the Broncos today, but Hillman hurt himself today with a fumble.
Leading 7-0, the Broncos were driving again, looking as though they would extend that lead when Hillman took a handoff off right tackle, and the ball popped loose.
The Chiefs returned the fumble 64 yards to the Denver 12-yard line.
The turnover cost the Broncos what had been a very effective drive and took some momentum away.
That isn't good for a first-year runner that is trying to get more playing time.
Hillman didn't get another carry for the remainder of the game.
Winner: Bronco Nation
The 2012 Denver Broncos have probably exceeded most of our expectations.
Who knew that Peyton Manning would be just as good as ever?
Who knew that the receivers would be up to the task and that the offensive line would be so stout?
This Denver offense is averaging nearly 30 points per game.
On the other side of the ball, the defense has become a run-stopping, quarterback-harassing unit. They rank No. 3 in overall defense.
These Broncos have not lost a game since October.
No matter what happens in the playoffs, this season has been amazing to watch.
The Broncos have outscored their opponents by a margin of 481-289.
Now, Bronco Nation gets to host a playoff game, with the chance of another, to go to the Super Bowl.
Oh, and be sure to make some serious noise if you're there.