GAME PLAN: The Broncos have gotten off to fast starts the last three games, scoring on the opening drive each time. But after the initial "feeling out" phase and adjustments made, Denver has played uninspired -- save for a late, unsuccessful fourth-quarter comeback vs. St. Louis. Denver has to be able to run the ball effectively to set up play action at the very least. Long-distance situations created mainly by penalties have prevented that as well as the team's 2-for-21 mark on third down over the last two games. Denver ran for a season-best 153 yards three weeks ago against Kansas City and that balance will go a long way towards being successful, especially playing in a loud Arrowhead environment that makes executing the cadence difficult.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Chiefs ROLB Tamba Hali vs. Broncos LT Ryan Clady: Hali has not registered a sack in three straight weeks. But the Broncos have seen Orton go down 16 times in the last five weeks. Clady has shown flashes of his All-Pro form but has been inconsistent. And Hali's speed could give Denver problems, as it has in the past. The key for the Broncos is being able to maintain balance offensively and not let Hali just run to the quarterback without the threat of a rush.
Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson vs. Broncos RB Knowshon Moreno: Johnson already has over 100 tackles and while Moreno remains a threat running the ball, Johnson's task will be equally important shadowing Moreno as a target out of the backfield. As Moreno has regained his health after months with balky hamstrings, Denver has targeted him more and more as an outlet receiver as teams try to protect against the deep pass. Moreno has 13 of his 28 receptions over the last two weeks, gaining 124 yards in the process.
INJURY IMPACT: The absence of WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle) will give more offensive snaps to fellow rookie Eric Decker, who nearly scored off a 38-yard reception vs. the Rams. Decker may spell Eddie Royal as a slot receiver in three wides but mainly will take part in four-wide formations as a dual slot with Royal.
CB Perrish Cox will start in Goodman's place and has been picked on by opposing quarterbacks. But if McBath is unavailable, it will trickle down to the rest of Denver's nickel and dime packages, meaning more snaps for David Bruton and rookie Syd'Quan Thompson.
Got something to say - Voice your opinion on any one of our
Broncos Update Community Forums