KANSAS CITY, Mo. —If the Chiefs had done a better job of defending Tim Tebow the last time they played against him, they would still be alive for a playoff spot.
The Chiefs couldn't adequately handle Tebow, Denver's first-year starting quarterback, in a 17-10 loss in mid-November at Arrowhead Stadium. As a result, the 6-9 Chiefs have been eliminated from the playoff race while the 8-7 Broncos would win the AFC West by beating the Chiefs on Sunday in Denver.
Tebow had 43 rushing yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs the last time. He completed just two passes, but one went for a 56-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter and provided the Broncos with their final winning margin.
The Chiefs are hopeful that recent exposure to Tebow will help on Sunday.
"We have a little bit more on (video) of how he's going to play and what he's going to do because we've seen him more," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said. "We'll study those games and see how other teams have played him and see what he's done against other teams and see how we might best defend him.
"We know he's going to run it. They're going to hand it off. He's going to run the option... and we need to do a better job against the pass than we did the last time."
Tebow and the Broncos are slumping for the first time since he took over as the starting quarterback for Kyle Orton two months ago. Tebow's passing has remained erratic but at he was at least protecting the ball early in the season.
He threw four interceptions in Saturday's loss to Buffalo. The Broncos, after winning six straight games, have now lost two in a row, one by 18 points and against the Bills by 26 points.
The Broncos still lead the league in rushing, in no small part because of Tebow's running ability and Denver's efficient use of the option.
"In college, they see the option all the time," Crennel said. "They have option defenses and they know how to play the option.
"On this level, we don't see the option. We see the drop-back passing game. So now having to face the option, we have to make the determination of how we're going to play it, who has responsibility for the QB, who has responsibility for the pitch and who has responsibility for the dive and you have to be consistent with it.
"You only work on it for a week and then you put it away."
The Broncos chewed up the Chiefs with the run in the last meeting, gaining 244 yards in 55 carries. The Broncos lost both of their two top halfbacks, Knowshon Moreno and Willis McGahee, because of injuries during the last game against the Chiefs, but it hardly mattered.
Journeyman Lance Ball had 96 rushing yards that day. Moreno is out for the season but McGahee has since returned will play on Sunday.
Though the Chiefs cannot make the playoffs even by beating the Broncos, Crennel indicated the Chiefs would not shuffle their lineup to accommodate any young players who could benefit from some playing time.
"We feel like the guys we've been playing with basically have given us the best chance to win," Crennel said. "I don't know that making a change now will change that.
"We need to go play really (well) and try to win that Denver game so we can leave here with a good taste in our mouth. Not that the taste will ever be good enough knowing what just occurred. But it will be a better taste than the alternative."
Crennel said the Chiefs will go with Orton at quarterback and rookie Ricky Stanzi will again be the backup. Crennel said the only way Stanzi would play is if Orton is injured during the game.
Rookie defensive back Jalil Brown is one player Crennel said he would like to get more playing time. He cited Brown's play on special teams against Oakland.
"He made a tremendous effort on that kickoff return to save the touchdown," Crennel said. "He downed (a punt) on the 2-yard line. He was blocking on kickoff returns and he did a really good job.
"If an opportunity arose, then he might get some playing time. But going into this game, knowing what we have to face, a running quarterback in Tebow and the option and all those things, I don't know that Brown's abilities will impact what we need to do defensively."