It all started when a group of eight gentlemen decided to create their own league to combat the NFL. In 1960, the AFL launched with eight franchises, two of which were the Denver Broncos and the Dallas Texans, who eventually became the Kansas City Chiefs. Fast forward nearly 62 years later, and we have one of the oldest rivalries in the NFL. The ’60s showed Chiefs dominance, followed by four decades of the Broncos taking the edge up until the 2010s.
2010 saw the Chiefs and Broncos in a bit of a transitional period. During the season, the Broncos fired their coach, Josh McDaniels, and Tim Tebow was their QB. Meanwhile, the Chiefs had Matt Cassel leading the offense and won the AFC West. Fast forward to 2013, the Chiefs had earned their first #1 overall pick. The Broncos were being led by Peyton Manning and were on their way to their first Super Bowl since ’98. From 2010-2014, the Broncos were 8-2 against the Kansas City Chiefs, then we got to 2015, and things changed.
In Comes Reid, Out Goes Manning
Let’s take a step back to 2013. The Chiefs landed a future-HOF coach, traded the 49ers for Alex Smith, and drafted Eric Fisher and Travis Kelce, cornerstones for the franchise. Meanwhile, the Broncos had just swept the Chiefs for the first time since 2007. Little did we know, they were about to have the best season an offense has ever had in NFL history. The Broncos would sweep the Chiefs in 2013 & 2014 while winning the AFC West in both seasons.
Then we get to 2015. The Chiefs were coming off of a season where they missed the playoffs. The Broncos lost as a two-seed in the divisional round of the 2014 playoffs to Manning’s former team, the Colts. In 2015, things were noticeably different. The Broncos’ offense seemed to struggle a bit, and it was mainly due to the decline of Peyton Manning. However, the defense was terrific. The Chiefs then began to find their stride on both sides of the ball.
The Chiefs and Broncos met in Week Two of the NFL season. The Broncos would win a back and forth affair, sparking a five-game losing streak for the Chiefs. Now at 1-5, the Chiefs faced a crossroads. They would go on a two-win streak before the bye and their second matchup with the Broncos at Mile High.
The Chiefs and Broncos are back at it again, and they finally get their win over Manning. It would be a decisive 29-13 victory on their way to an 11-game win streak—a sign of things to come for Kansas City. The Broncos would win their third straight AFC West title, and the Chiefs would enter the playoffs as a wild card team. While the Chiefs were able to win their first playoff game in 23 years, they would get bounced in the divisional round. The Broncos, however, hoisted their third Lombardi trophy in Super Bowl 50.
The Rise Of The Chiefs
After the confetti settled from Super Bowl 50, reality set in for the Broncos. Peyton Manning announced his retirement from the NFL, ending an 18-year career that would take him straight to Canton. The Broncos faced a rebuild, and the Chiefs were just getting started.
In the 2016 seasons, the Chiefs would sweep the Broncos, bringing the streak to three games. The first game would end in an OT win, but the second game was a complete blowout. In 2016, the Chiefs won their first AFC West title since 2010 after a close battle with the Oakland Raiders. They were able to win 12 games, but they would lose in the playoffs, and the Broncos would finish at 9-7, missing the playoffs. To this day, 2016 was the last time the Broncos finished with a winning record.
Something that took place before the 2017 season would be the catalyst for the 2018 season, something that would change the Chiefs’ fortunes for the next four+ years. It all started with a first-round trade with the Buffalo Bills, allowing the Chiefs to select a QB from Texas Tech with the tenth pick.
Patrick Mahomes would sit out the 2017 season, but a showdown with the Broncos showed that the kid had promise. The Chiefs would go on to capture their second AFC West title at 10-6 in 2017, a down year for the division. This season would end similarly for both teams, the Chiefs would lose an agonizing playoff game, and the Broncos would finish at the division’s bottom.
Beginning of the Mahomes Era
The Chiefs then chose to go all-in on Patrick Mahomes, trading Alex Smith for CB Kendall Fuller. There was a lot of anticipation entering the 2018 season for the Chiefs. On the other side of the aisle, the Broncos were in a clear rebuild. They had signed bridge QB Case Keenum to handle the offense. Week One rolls around, and the Chiefs offense explodes. The Broncos did not experience this, but they still played the Chiefs closer than most teams that year. In both of the matchups, they lost by a combined ten points. This would push the Chiefs’ win streak to seven straight, tying for third-best between the two teams.
The Chiefs lose the AFC Championship to the eventual champion New England Patriots. The Broncos would fail to make the playoffs again. Then 2019 rolls around, and the Chiefs are 4-2 entering a matchup with the Broncos in Denver. The Chiefs would take the lead, but their superstar QB would injure his knee, forcing him out of the game.
With the streak in jeopardy, Matt Moore would finish the game off with a W. Patrick Mahomes would return before their Week 15 game and win convincingly. Good for nine straight victories as the Chiefs capture their second title in franchise history.
In 2020, the Chiefs were defending champions, and the Broncos were still finding their way through their rebuild. The Chiefs would dominate the NFL, the Broncos included, and finish at 14-2. In their two games against Denver, they would outscore the Broncos 65 to 38 and extend their streak to 11 games. This would tie the Chiefs record for longest win streak in Chiefs-Broncos history, dating back to their streak from ’64-’69.
The Chiefs would win the AFC and lose Super Bowl LVI to end the 2020 season. The Broncos would finish near the bottom of the AFC West while the Chiefs snag their fifth straight title, tying the ’72-’76 Raiders and the ’11-’15 Broncos. In 2021, the Broncos made their trip to Arrowhead to lose their record 12th straight game against the Chiefs, 22-9. The Chiefs have also clinched their record sixth consecutive AFC West Championship as we head into the Chiefs & Broncos Week 18 matchup.
Such a rich history here, from the Chiefs’ 60’s dominance, the Orange Crush Defense, Elway, Derrick Thomas, Early-00’s battles, and so much more. They may not be the oldest of rivals, but it would be hard to find two franchises that combine for more exciting moments in their history. The Chiefs currently hold a 68-55 advantage all-time, a winning advantage they currently hold against all of their division-mates.
I am sure many are, but I am looking forward to the high-stakes matchup the Chiefs face this week. While the Broncos have missed another shot at the playoffs, they boast a tough defense and will not make it easy on the guys in the red helmets. With the one seed on the line, the Broncos will do all they can to snap their streak and keep them from getting that bye. Best of luck, Broncos!