Game Plan and Matchups v. Kansas City

Defensively, if the Denver Broncos can stop Chiefs running back Larry Johnson, they can control the game. On offense, the Broncos need to find their passing game.

SERIES HISTORY: 93rd meeting. The Chiefs lead the series 51-41 over the Broncos. The Broncos beat Kansas City 9-6 in overtime earlier this season at Denver, which was the Chiefs' first game without quarterback Trent Green. The Broncos haven't swept the Chiefs since 2002.

GAME PLAN: Somehow, the Broncos need to find their passing game. Without it, moving the ball on offense becomes a tough chore and the running game isn't playing well enough to overcome that. Jake Plummer has to find the groove he was in last season, when he was a Pro Bowl alternate. Plummer isn't just making bad decisions, he is also off on many throws. If he can't make plays, defenses will load up the box to stop the running game.

Defensively, if Denver can stop Larry Johnson they can control the game. Trent Green looked a bit rusty in his return last week and the Broncos will take their chances of Green beating them if they can contain Johnson.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Broncos LT Erik Pears vs. Chiefs DE Jared Allen -- Pears replaced Matt Lepsis. He hasn't been exposed but there is a downgrade at the position. Allen is a disruptive player and the Broncos will have to devise a scheme to neutralize his presence.

Broncos S Curome Cox vs. Chiefs RB Larry Johnson -- The Chargers tried to get LaDainian Tomlinson isolated against safety Nick Ferguson last week. Ferguson is out for the season with a knee injury and the Chiefs are likely to try a similar tactic against Cox, Ferguson's replacement.

Broncos P/K Paul Ernster vs. Chiefs KOR/PR Dante Hall -- Ernster has had a solid season with a few bad kicks. He can't afford any bad kicks against Kansas City, especially with the way Denver's coverage teams are struggling.

INJURY IMPACT: RB Tatum Bell practiced on Tuesday. He is listed as questionable on the injury report with two injured big toes and the Broncos will evaluate him during the week to determine if he can play.

S Nick Ferguson is out for the season with a knee injury. He had surgery Tuesday and has a three-month recovery period.

DE Patrick Chukwurah practiced on Tuesday. He didn't play last week because of a hamstring injury but he could return to the lineup.

RB Mike Bell is questionable with a thigh injury, but he practiced and should be able to play.

G Cooper Carlisle didn't participate during the team portion of practice because of a back injury. The Broncos will evaluate his status later in the week.

WR Rod Smith has an ankle injury and didn't participate in the team portion of practice Tuesday. Smith admitted the injury has slowed him a bit, but he wants to play this week.

WR Brandon Marshall has an ankle injury and was held out of the team portion of practice Tuesday. He suffered the injury last Sunday but came back to play in that game, and should be ready this week.


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