KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was supposed to be a week off for Chiefs coach Andy Reid, the one time during the grueling 17-week season where there are hardly any practices and no stressful game.
Thanks to his handy iPad, Reid managed to squeeze in a little bit of work anyway.
After all, the Denver Broncos are on the docket Sunday night.
Kansas City returned from its bye Monday and turned its attention squarely toward their AFC West rivals — as if that wasn’t the case already. Several players said they’d have the showdown between two of the league’s top teams in the back of their minds throughout their week off.
Reid took it one step further. After his staff put in a full work day Wednesday, he gave them the rest of the week off. But video of the Broncos kept popping up on that darn iPad, and Reid said he couldn’t help but take a look at one of the league’s most exciting teams.
“They’ve done a great job. They’ve got a good football team, period, and their offense has been doing a very nice job. Very explosive,” Reid said. “Listen, they’ve got good players and good coaches, and that’s normally a pretty good formula.”
That formula has been thrown into a little bit of a flux, though.
The Broncos will be preparing once again without coach John Fox, who had surgery last week to replace the aortic valve in his heart. Fox is recuperating at his Charlotte home while the Broncos are led by interim coach Jack Del Rio, who guided them past San Diego on Sunday.
Then there’s the status of quarterback Peyton Manning, who took a hard hit to his already tender ankle in the fourth quarter of the Chargers game. He was due for an MRI exam on Monday, and even if everything checks out, he’s sure to be sore when the Chiefs are calling.
“They’re still very good,” Reid said. “We’ve seen that the whole year.”
They’re also very banged up, unlike the Chiefs.
Kansas City has been blessed by good health while putting together the league’s only 9-0 start, and even welcomed back safety Sanders Commings from injured reserve last week. That means the Chiefs were at full strength as they returned to practice on Monday.
The break was actually an extended one. The NFL mandates that teams must take at least four consecutive days off during the bye week, but Reid decided to release his players after a series of meetings last Monday, which means they had nearly a full week to rest and relax.
And maybe think a little bit about the Broncos (8-1).
“We understand the importance of it,” cornerback Sean Smith said before heading off on his break. “We’re definitely going to get some studying in, get our bodies right, our mind right, and come back in and get ready to work.”
Reid has given his team extended breaks ever since his early days in Philadelphia, and the result has been a spectacular record coming off the bye. The Eagles won 13 straight games after a week off before losing to the Falcons — who were unbeaten at the time — last season.
That means Reid’s post-bye record is 13-1, astounding by almost any measure.
“I think ours hit at a good time,” Reid said of the bye. “I think the guys will come back, their retention level will be good. They’ll be a little fresher, ready to go. And we did practice today, and it looked like they were moving around pretty good.”
When asked about the focus in practice, Reid replied: “We worked a little bit on Denver” — pause for comedic effect — “and a little more on Denver.”
The showdown between longtime rivals is shaping up as one of the marquee games of the season, the first of two that they’ll play over the next three weeks. It stands to pit the Chiefs’ defense, one of the best in the NFL, against Manning’s high-flying offense.
The winner will have the advantage in the AFC West race.
“We’re going to be focused. We’re playing a good football team,” Reid said. “The important part is you go back to the things you’ve done every week for preparation. You respect the heck out of Denver, you study them and then you get yourself right as a team. You make sure you know the scheme, you stay up with what you need to be physically. That’s how you go about your business.
“You don’t want to get caught up in the distractions that come with being a Sunday night game,” Reid said. “You want to make sure you get yourself prepared to play a good football team.”