AFC West: 2013 Week 6 QB Watch AFC

QB Watch: Broncos' Peyton Manning

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly examination of the Denver Broncos' quarterback play.

Manning
Rewind: It is telling what kind of year Peyton Manning is having that when he finishes a game, a 16-point win no less, 28 of 42 passing for 295 yards and two touchdowns, as he did against the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday, people then spend some time asking him what went wrong. It was still a quality outing, but Manning did show some small hints of frustration against Jacksonville’s defensive plan, but not enough to keep him from chugging along at a record pace.

Fast-forward: The Broncos have been a decidedly chuck-it-around offense thus far, but this may be the week to go big and grind it out a bit. The Colts have shown some problems in their run defense, especially through the middle of the formation. The Chargers, with former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy now the team’s head coach, repeatedly used an inside zone run game to pound out the yardage. The Broncos are always going to throw it, but Manning could have opportunities to keep drives going if he keeps pounding the ball in the middle of the field.

Share the wealth: Manning has been remarkably efficient in his pass distribution this season and opposing defenses are consistently faced with difficult choices because of it. Defensive plans are routinely built on the idea of removing a quarterback’s favorite targets from the equation. But Manning has essentially treated his top four targets equally thus far. Eric Decker and Wes Welker have each been targeted 50 times in six games, Demaryius Thomas has been targeted 49 times and tight end Julius Thomas has been targeted 43 times.

Prediction: Colts coach Chuck Pagano, a longtime defensive assistant in the league, has long talked about keeping an offense’s “game-wreckers" from tipping the scales, but the Broncos' passing game will be his defense’s stiffest test of the season. The Chargers, No. 3 in the league in passing, are the only team the Colts have faced this season with a passing game ranked above 22nd. The Colts can bring the pressure at times -- they have 19 sacks this season -- but in looking at how the Colts have played so far, Manning should find some room to work with the Broncos' tight ends and running backs against Indianapolis linebackers.

QB Watch: Chiefs' Alex Smith

October, 16, 2013
10/16/13
9:00
AM ET
A weekly analysis of the Chiefs' quarterback play:

Smith
Rewind: Alex Smith had another statistically poor game against the Oakland Raiders, going 14-of-31 for 128 yards and, for the second straight week, no touchdowns. Smith was under consistent pressure, so the low completion percentage was not all his fault. But it continued a disturbing trend. Smith was just 20-of-39 in the previous week's game against Tennessee but at least then he was able to throw for 245 yards.

Fast-forward: The Houston Texans have allowed fewer passing yards than any other NFL team but that's misleading because opponents have attempted just 137 passes, far and away the lowest total in the league. However, Houston is 27th in yards allowed per pass attempt, so there should be some openings for Smith and the Chiefs to make some passing plays if the protection holds up. The Texans are capable of getting after Smith like the Titans and Raiders did, so that could be a problem for him again.

Not turning it over: Although the passing game has been sluggish at best, Smith isn't making the kind of mistakes that hurt the Chiefs. He has thrown only three interceptions in 216 attempts, and that 1.4 interception percentage is among the best in the league. Opponents have started only three possessions on Kansas City's side of the field, so Smith isn't putting the defense in bad positions.

Prediction: Given his recent struggles, it's not wise to expect a high-percentage passing day from Smith. That's particularly true against the Texans, who allow only 56.2 percent of opponent passes to be completed. Much rests on the ability of his blockers to afford Smith time. If he consistently has time to throw, Smith could respond with one of his better games. If not, look for more of the same.

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