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With key defenders back, Broncos rejuvenated for final six-game push

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And that begins with a huge AFC West game Sunday night.

Denver Broncos v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Broncos got back to work today after a week off, looking especially rejuvenated for the upcoming prime-time game against the Chiefs on Sunday.

"You can see that they’re really fresh," coach Gary Kubiak said Monday, noting that the team looked "mentally fresh more than anything" after getting away from football. "[We had] a lot of enthusiasm out here today with guys bouncing around. We’ll get back in our routine on Wednesday. They were very fresh. You could tell."

Safety T.J. Ward told The Afternoon Drive that he definitely got a physical and emotional boost from the bye week as he tries to heal his ailing hamstring. But the safety didn’t get away from football completely, admitting he was a big Buccaneers fan on Sunday.

"I talk to the TV, and I talk to players while they’re playing like they can hear me," Ward laughed, while also admitting that the Chiefs’ loss on Sunday was perhaps even more important than the Broncos having a much-needed bye week.

And yesterday No. 43 was a gigantic Brock Osweiler fan.

[*apparently Les and Eric didn’t want to remind Ward that Brent didn’t actually get to play in the playoffs ;) ].

Even though Ward's cheers for the Texans were not enough to overcome the refs as the Raiders moved ahead in the AFC West, he knows the most important thing is for the Broncos to take care of business from here on out. And now that the defense is getting Aqib Talib and Derek Wolfe back in the starting line-up, the defense is getting a big lift.

"When you get in that huddle and see the original starters, it’s a great feeling," Ward said. "Same situation as last year...guys were in and out...but everyone came together for that last run, and it was a beautiful thing. We’re all here now ready for this run and it kind of feels like that again."

Chris Harris Jr. also noted how important it will be to have Talib and Wolfe back.

"It’s good to have those guys back. It was definitely hard playing without them, but we were able to hold strong and still get a couple of wins while they were out," Harris Jr. said.

Talib said he is feeling especially good and that can only mean one thing - a total nightmare for the Chiefs.

"I feel great like I’m going to finish great," Tabib said Monday. "I got a three-week break so my legs feel extra fresh. I just feel super-fresh right now."

But the Broncos know Kansas City has a good running game and makes a lot of plays to their tight ends, so the heavy defensive load for the Broncos will likely fall on the linebackers and defensive line.

"It’s going to test the outside linebackers and inside linebackers to cover those guys," Barrett said of Chiefs’ running back Spencer Ware and tight end Travis Kelce. "In the run game, we’ve had trouble with that so far this year. We got better against it two weeks ago, so we’re going to try to build on that and keep it going."

The Broncos will also aim to build on their own running game progress from two weeks ago and try to get it really going against the Chiefs, which are ranked 27th against the run.

Perhaps the best news on the offensive front is that Andy Janovich no longer has his cast, and he’s been catching passes.

Kubiak also reminded his team moving forward to focus on their play more than anything else for the remaining games.

"There are a lot of good teams in our division and a lot of wins in our division," Kubiak said. "You look around this league and it’s going to be so competitive these last six weeks. A lot of football teams are in races and we all play each other. It’ll come down to how we play, that’s what I tell the guys. It won’t come down to anything else. It’ll come down to how we play, so we’re trying to stay focused on that."