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Broncos’ offense needs to come out on fire to beat the Chiefs

As DT said, they’ve had 10 weeks and a bye to figure it out. Now it’s time to get real.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Kansas City Chiefs John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

Things are about to get real.

The Broncos’ 7-3 record can easily be 13-3/12-4 in six weeks (we’ll allow one loss as long as it’s not to the Raiders), or it could just as likely be 10-6 or – gah! – even 7-9.

OK, 7-9 is just not going to happen, but the upcoming game against the Chiefs is a big one for a lot more than just the AFC West standings, playoff implications and/or our rivalry in general.

It’s big because this game can really set the tone for the home stretch, which includes the Chiefs twice, Raiders, Titans and the Patriots.

So it’s time for the Broncos offense to quit "figuring things out" each game and start hammering down the field with some consistency. Whatever growing pains this young offense has endured, it needs to grow up quick because the playoffs start Sunday night when Kansas City comes to town.

OK, not the playoffs playoffs, but the playoffs. The games where one miscommunication on the line could be the difference in playing in January and starting the offseason after Christmas.

Gary Kubiak and his offense are aware of this – especially Demaryius Thomas who laid down some truth after practice Wednesday.

{psst, DT, actually we do know what happens when this offense is clicking. What we’re trying to understand is why it can’t click every game? This is what we’re hoping you figured out over the last 12 weeks!}

But the truth is, Thomas does know how to approach this game – like it’s the last; losers go home.

"We have to [win]. I’m acting like its playoffs," Thomas said. "We’re in a situation where anything can happen. We’re in third place right now, so we have to try to win out, take one game at a time and play like it’s the playoffs."

Kubiak said he hopes his team is coming out "on fire" after the bye week because he knows the offense is going to need to be in order to beat a very tough Kansas City defense.

"We’re going to have to be [on fire]. We’re playing a really good team. We know that. Our energy was good today. One thing about football, when you get away from it for a few days, you have to get back into it. The throwing, the catching and the hitting. That’s why we put our pads on today and tried to be a little more competitive."

That environment was made more competitive by Kubiak’s announcement a few days ago that Ty Sambrailo would be competing with Donald Stephenson for the starting job on the offensive line.

"They’re both going to play. Like I told you all and like I told them, be the guy that plays in a way that you don’t come off the field," Kubiak said.

The one constant in the O-line this season (and last) has been Matt Paradis who controls the line and takes over much of the play-calling for Trevor Siemian. Paradis, who has been sitting out some weekly practices to nurse a hip injury and get some rest, is a must-go for game day, even if he isn’t taking snaps in practice.

The coach acknowledged it can be tough to develop the necessary consistency on the line if Paradis isn’t practicing, but it’s more important for No. 61 to be there on Sunday than Thursday.

"He does a lot of work at the line of scrimmage," Kubiak pointed out. "The further we get along here, Trevor is doing more, too. We’re going to be asking more of Trevor here down the stretch. That will be important. Matt is a leader in what we do."

Kubiak is also hoping that the recent reacquisition of wide receiver Marlon Brown will add some important elements to the offense and special teams – including competition.

"We think Marlon is a really good player. The time he was here he did a hell of a job," Kubiak said. "We just think we’re adding a good player. Obviously that’s a lot of active wide receivers. It’s a very competitive position for us. We’ve been suiting six guys, so we think he can add to the mix."

A healthy Andy Janovich in the mix should also boost the offense.

"It means a lot," Kubiak said of the fullback getting his cast off. Now that he can use his hands to block and catch makes him a true threat. "That’s something Andy does well. It’s good to see him back out here using his hands. Hopefully he can stay healthy the rest of the way."

Janovich’s greater presence this weekend will do wonders for the running game, an area Kubiak spent a lot of focus during the break – especially with helping the young guys, Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs, recognize that they have to make big plays happen on their own occasionally.

"Things aren’t always nice in this league. Those holes are clogged up, you’re going to get hit and people are going to be there," Kubiak said. "We’re trying to really show them times where we would say that we went down too easy, too many arm tackles. We’re trying to challenge them as players. If we block something for three or four, they need to go get five or six. That’s the nature of being a good back in this league."

Sunday will be a big test for the running backs as Kansas City’s pass rush and defensive line are among the best the Broncos have faced so far. Between Justin Houston and Tamba Hali on the outside, Dontari Poe at the line, Derrick Johnson inside and Marcus Peters starting a mini-No Fly Zone in KC, the Broncos offense is going to have to play up a few notches from its previous performances.

"Everything is contested with them. There is no 10-12-yard cushion or you’re throwing it to wide open guys," Siemian said. "Everything’s contested and then when they do get their hands on the ball, they’re getting it. They’re not dropping many balls back there. It’s a good challenge for us."

Some might even say huge.

But sitting at 7-3 in a conference with three viable playoff teams and hosting one of them at home in primetime after a bye week, is about as good as it gets for motivation to play on fire for the remaining six games.

"We’ve won seven games, and we know we can get better," said Siemian. "I don’t think there are too many teams that can say that and be in this position."

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