Broncos Update Insider - 12/5

Since the Denver Broncos appear to be on their way to hosting a home game in January, they need to figure out how to start winning at home. The Broncos have been unpredictable most of the season, especially in their home and road results.

Denver has won three straight road games, including back-to-back road wins at Atlanta and the New York Jets.

That's impressive, and equally unimpressive is their home results. Denver is 3-3 at home this year, with three straight losses. Included in those losses is 4-8 Jacksonville and a baffling 21-point loss to 3-9 Oakland in the last home game.

Denver hosts Kansas City this week, and based on recent results, a loss can't be assumed. The Broncos know they have to play better at home.

"We've got to emphasize that point," defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. "We have a mentality on away games -- it's us against the world. We have to bring that mentality at home."

The beauty for the Broncos is their road wins and San Diego's problems have made up for the home disappointments. The Broncos are 7-5 and in control of the AFC West. The Chargers are 4-8 and fading. Denver can clinch the division this week with a San Diego loss to Oakland and a victory on Sunday against the Chiefs. If the Broncos win the AFC West, they will host a playoff game in January.

Despite the three-game lead with four to play, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan was careful not to take the division championship and a playoff game for granted.

"It's far from over," Shanahan said. "We've seen teams bounce back very quickly. The thing that we're going to do is hopefully concentrate on the job at hand. We've got Kansas City in our backyard. We've got to worry about our business.

When asked about San Diego being out of it in the AFC West, he chided the questioner.

"To assume something like that to me is a big mistake, for our football team, as well as the rest of the NFL," Shanahan said.

With a month to go in the regular season, Shanahan also wasn't ready to call the season a failure at Invesco Field at Mile High. The Broncos have had plenty of confusing losses at home, but Shanahan thought the team can play better in Denver.

"We'll see how we do at home in the remainder of our games," Shanahan said. "Hopefully we can play at the level we have in the past and do the things we're capable of doing."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Chiefs and Raiders have five wins combined. Two came against each other, and two came against the Broncos. The 2-10 Chiefs beat the Broncos in September, and 3-9 Oakland beat them two weeks ago. The Broncos get a rematch against the Chiefs on Sunday.

"I think we have learned our lesson on taking teams lightly, and I don't think that it will happen this week," quarterback Jay Cutler said.

--Although cornerback Champ Bailey has said he anticipates playing this week, the Broncos aren't quite sure yet. Bailey was limited in practice on Wednesday.

The Broncos are being very cautious with Bailey, who hasn't played since injuring his groin on Oct. 20.

"Anytime you're dealing with a groin injury it's always tough to say what's going to happen," Shanahan said.

--Broncos rookie Spencer Larsen will move back to fullback, Shanahan said. Larsen had spent three games at middle linebacker after Nate Webster went down with a knee injury. Webster is ready to return and the Broncos need Larsen on offense. Their ability to run two-back sets has been hindered because Larsen was on defense and Peyton Hillis moved from fullback to tailback.

The Broncos also have fullback Andrew Pinnock, a former Charger who signed last week and is rounding into playing shape.

"We've got two guys there," Shanahan said.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-18 -- The record of the Chiefs and Raiders in games not against themselves or the Broncos. Kansas City and Oakland are a combined 2-1 against Denver this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They are a much better football right now than they were when we played them." - Broncos coach Mike Shanahan on Kansas City.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The Broncos had to place defensive tackle Josh Shaw on injured reserve with an elbow injury, ending his season. Shaw had been playing a regular role in the Broncos' defensive line rotation before injuring his arm in the first half against the Jets.

The injury will probably mean playing time for Nic Clemons, who has been inactive the past few weeks. Clemons impressed the team in training camp with his interior pass rush ability.

PLAYER NOTES

--RB Peyton Hillis will be the starting tailback this week, Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. Selvin Young could return from a groin injury but Hillis has been very effective as a lead back.

--LB Mario Haggan could still see some time on defense this week. The Broncos don't know if Nate Webster can get through a full game in his return from a knee injury and Spencer Larsen will be playing offense, so Haggan will have to be ready.

--LB D.J. Williams has missed four games with a knee injury, yet still ranks second on the Broncos with 86 tackles. He trails team leader Jamie Winborn by two tackles.

--RB Tatum Bell could see his playing time cut when Selvin Young returns from a groin injury, which could be as soon as this week. Bell or P.J. Pope could be inactive to make room for Young once he proves he is 100 percent.

--WR Eddie Royal is first among the Broncos' non-kickers with 32 points. He has five touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Second on the team is Peyton Hillis, another rookie who has five touchdowns.



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