Five of Denver's final eight games are on the road and all of them are capable opponents: Oakland, Dallas, Kansas City, Buffalo and San Diego. The Broncos have a one-game lead over Kansas City in the AFC West over the Chiefs and will have to win a couple of tough road games to win the division title. Denver's first game after the bye is this week at Oakland.
The Broncos shouldn't have a tough time getting ready for the Raiders, a longtime rival which upset Denver at Invesco Field at Mile High last season.
"I try not to look at it too far ahead," safety John Lynch said. "I look at the schedule and see the Raiders. But it is important if you want to be a special team, a championship team, I think you have to play on the road as well. We have that challenge ahead of us."
The Broncos have a good formula to go on the road and win. They run the ball well and rarely turn the ball over. Denver has chalked up a season-opening loss to Miami as an aberration; the Broncos dominated a game at Jacksonville and lost a road game against the New York Giants in the final seconds.
The Broncos know that to make a run at the division title and perhaps a first-round bye in the playoffs, they'll need to play very well down the stretch against a tough schedule.
"As all the players know, true teams are made in the second half," defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban. "November and December will be our truest tests to tell where we are."
NOTES, QUOTES --Broncos CB Champ Bailey will practice at full speed on Wednesday, coach Mike Shanahan said. Bailey, who didn't practice Monday when the Broncos returned from their bye, has been limited in most of the practices since he hurt his hamstring in Denver's third game.
"We'll wait and see and see how he does and don't get too optimistic until he actually practices and goes through full speed work," Shanahan said.
--Denver's decision to put cornerback Lenny Walls on injured reserve, which paves the way for his release when he has recovered from a minor groin injury, shows the Broncos were willing to let an unhappy player go. Walls wasn't pleased when he lost his starting spot early in the season.
Even though Walls and Champ Bailey were the only players with more than two years experience at cornerback, and Bailey is banged up with a hamstring injury, the Broncos decided they'd rather let their rookies play instead of a displeased Walls.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--CB Domonique Foxworth would start if Champ Bailey doesn't play
this week. Foxworth has played very well this season, but would have a
tough assignment against Oakland's physical receivers.
--TE Stephen Alexander came into the league with a reputation for being a good receiver. This season he has been more of a factor blocking in the run game. Alexander has started every game, but has only 83 yards receiving.
--WR Todd Devoe should continue to be active. He helps on special teams and showed his ability to make a play at receiver with a 44-yard touchdown against Philadelphia.
--RB Ron Dayne hasn't gotten a carry in a few weeks, but the Broncos haven't written him off yet. They know that if Mike Anderson gets hurt, Dayne has a similar running style and could step into his role.
--WR Charlie Adams has taken some punt and kickoff returns to keep Darrent Williams fresh for his role at cornerback, but Adams hasn't broken any long plays yet. He is averaging a respectable 7.3 yards per punt return.
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