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Chiefs to face veteran quarterback they courted in offseason as they host Broncos
spt ap Broncos Manning
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning throws against the San Diego Chargers during an NFL game last Sunday afternoon in Denver. - photo by The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — The courtship of Peyton Manning ended early for the Kansas City Chiefs.
During the offseason, when just about every NFL team in need of a quarterback was making overtures to the four-time MVP, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt went on record as saying the franchise hoped to be in the derby. It was a rare acknowledgment from the head of an ownership family that rarely speaks publicly, and even more rarely discusses player personnel matters.
But with incumbent starter Matt Cassel the only true option returning, and off a season-ending injury at that, Hunt knew that luring Manning to Kansas City could turn around his team.
He wasn’t rebuffed so much as never given a chance.
Manning announced that he would choose between a select few teams, and ultimately signed with the AFC West-rival Denver Broncos — just about the worst scenario the Chiefs could imagine.
Now, the Broncos are flying high at 7-3 and riding a five-game win streak into today’s game at Kansas City. The Chiefs (1-9) have been forced to jockey between Cassel and former first-round draft pick Brady Quinn while losing seven consecutive games.
“He looks like the Peyton of old, unfortunately,” Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said glumly.
He may, in fact, be even better.
The 36-year-old has already thrown for 2,975 yards with 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and his average of 8 yards per attempt leads the league. His completion rate of 68.5 percent is just off his career-best of 68.8, set before missing all of last season because of a neck injury.
Manning is on pace to set a career high in yards passing, his interception rate would be among the lowest he’s had, and his QB rating of 106.2 is currently the second best of his career.
“Really didn’t have necessarily a set of expectations, because there was so much unknown, and there still is in some ways,” Manning said. “I’m still learning about my injury and body, and I’m still learning about my receivers and my teammates, so it was hard to set realistic goals.”
Manning enters today’s game tied with his boss, Broncos vice president John Elway, for the second-most wins by a starter with 148. He’s still well behind Brett Favre (186), but his career winning percentage of 67.9 is far better than either of them.
“Peyton’s still playing at a high level. He makes everyone around him better,” Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali said. “We look forward to playing against him.”
Of course, they’d rather be playing with him.
Quinn will be back under center at Arrowhead Stadium, where fans have been revolting for weeks, and where banners have been flown asking for general manager Scott Pioli to be fired.
Cassel struggled as the starting quarterback early in the season, and Quinn took over when he sustained a concussion against Baltimore. Quinn was made the permanent starter, only to sustain his own head injury against Oakland. He was finally cleared just before last week’s game against Cincinnati, and came on in the second half when Cassel once again couldn’t move the offense.
The Chiefs have led only twice in a game, and their only victory required a franchise-record 18-point comeback at New Orleans.

DENVER (7-3)
Today, Noon, CBS

OPENING LINE — Broncos by 10
RECORD VS. SPREAD — Denver 6-4; Kansas City 3-7
SERIES RECORD — Chiefs lead 56-48
AP PRO32 RANKING — Broncos No. 4; Chiefs No. 32
LAST MEETING — Chiefs defeated Broncos 7-3, Jan. 1, 2012
LAST WEEK — Broncos beat Chargers 30-23; Chiefs lost to Bengals 28-6
STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — Chiefs lost to Denver 17-10 last season at Arrowhead Stadium when then-Broncos QB Tim Tebow completed only two passes, one a TD. ... Broncos QB Peyton Manning tied with former Broncos QB John Elway with 148 wins, second-most by starter in league history. His winning percentage of 67.9 better than Elway and first-place Brett Favre, who has 186 wins. ... Kansas City has lost seven straight. Its lone victory required a franchise-record 18-point comeback to win at New Orleans. ... Broncos have won five straight since losing at New England. ... Broncos LB Von Miller has 24½ sacks through first 25 games, including 13 this season. He had three last week against San Diego. ... Denver without leading rusher Willis McGahee, who tore MCL and sustained compression fracture in right knee last week. ... Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles fourth in AFC with 82.1 yards rushing and 101 yards from scrimmage per game. ... QB Brady Quinn will start for Chiefs in place of Matt Cassel, who was starter earlier this season. Quinn sustained concussion last month against Oakland, returned for first time last week when Cassel was ineffective.