The Denver Broncos keep winning, but so do their AFC West rivals.
Denver is 9-2 but can't feel safe about winning the division yet because Kansas City and San Diego are 7-4 and continue to keep pace with the Broncos. Denver won last Thursday at Dallas, but then watched the Chiefs and Chargers pick up big wins on Sunday.
Denver still has road games against each second-place team. The Broncos play at Kansas City on Sunday and then finish the regular season with a game at San Diego.
"There is no comfort zone whatsoever," Broncos fullback Kyle Johnson said. "I don't expect it to get comfortable. As long as we continue to do well I'm not worried about that, but it's not going to be comfortable. That's not the nature of this business."
Denver hasn't won a division title since 1998. But they have been in a playoff race just about every season since then, so they know that it's too early to worry about their AFC West rivals or how they stack up with the rest of the playoff contenders in the AFC, even though they are being touted as one of the few teams that can contend with Indianapolis.
"I think we'll be a Super Bowl-caliber team if we get to the Super Bowl," Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce said. "There's a lot of teams that are Super Bowl-caliber. Pittsburgh is a Super Bowl-caliber team, and so is Indianapolis. There's still five games left before the playoffs, so I'm looking at it with blinders on and saying, 'Who do we play next?'"
--QB Jake Plummer has had some nice runs in the past few games. He is often on the move with Denver's rollout plays and looks to be moving well. He had minor off-season knee injury that affected him a little bit in preseason.
--QB Bradlee Van Pelt didn't play against Dallas and hasn't played all season.
--RB Tatum Bell said he feels good about his chances of playing this week. He practiced before Denver's game against Dallas but the coaches wanted to make sure he was 100 percent. Ron Dayne did a great job filling in for Bell, but Bell's speed gives Denver's offense a much-needed home run threat.
--RB Ron Dayne might go back on the bench after his big Thanksgiving performance against Dallas, but the Broncos aren't worried about Dayne creating problems if he doesn't get a lot of playing time. Dayne has said and done all of the right things all season, even when he wasn't playing.
--WR Rod Smith hasn't had a 100-yard game since Oct. 16 against New England, his only one this season. But he usually does well against Kansas City. He had seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown in the Broncos' first meeting against the Chiefs.
--WR Ashley Lelie should be fine for this week's game. He left the Dallas game with a mild concussion. But Lelie usually doesn't play well at Kansas City. In his last two games at Arrowhead Stadium he had 36 and 37 yards.
--WR Charlie Adams had one catch for 7 yards against Dallas. Because the Broncos use second tight end Jeb Putzier so much in passing situations, Adams doesn't have as many opportunities as most third wide receivers.
--TE Jeb Putzier is Denver's third-leading receiver, even though he doesn't start. He had four catches for 69 yards against Dallas, and is becoming a bigger part of the passing game.
--K Jason Elam is over his early-season slump. He has hit his last six field goals, including an overtime winner against Dallas. He hasn't missed a field goal since Oct. 23 against the New York Giants.
--LB Keith Burns might not play this week because of a knee injury. He leads Denver in special-teams tackles, and he also is Al Wilson's primary backup at middle linebacker.
--LB D.J. Williams had a good game against Dallas, which ran the ball a lot. That allowed Williams, who doesn't play in the nickel package, to stay on the field. Williams could stay on the field a lot this week as well, to help against Kansas City's running game.
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