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Broncos vs Chiefs preview: Denver must get constant pressure on Mahomes

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For the Broncos to have a chance in Kansas City, they have to box in, pressure and hit Mahomes as often as possible.

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Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Lost in the distractions of the last 24 hours, John Elway called this is a “must-win” game.

That doesn’t leave room for much else as the Denver Broncos head east to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. We’ll find out whether what see saw in the desert last Thursday against the Arizona Cardinals was a mirage or really real.

At least the Broncos (3-4) head to Kansas City with a win, and one on the road, to give them a little bit of confidence for the Chiefs (6-1).

Offensive Rankings

Denver: Fourteenth in overall offense (376.4 yards), eighth in rushing (125.1), 19th in passing (251.3) and 19th in points (23.6).

Kansas City: Third in overall offense (437.4 yards), 10th in rushing (124.3), fifth in passing (313.1) and first in points (37.1).

Defense Rankings

Denver: Twenty-second in overall defense (378.0 yards), 31st in rushing (148.1), 10th in passing (229.9) and 13th in points (23.4).

Kansas City: Thirty-second in overall defense (435.4 yards), 23rd in rushing (118.9), 31st in passing (316.6) and 22nd in points (26.0).

Here are our keys to the game.

Orange Rush

The Broncos defense needs to box in, pressure and hit Patrick Mahomes. In the first game on Monday Night Football, the edge guys got too far up the field allowing Mahomes to play school-yard football. Box him in on both sides, keep him in the pocket and hit him — repeatedly. Denver’s defense is the only one to truly test Mahomes. Now with the Orange Rush building steam, ace the test with a second chance to take it. — Ian St. Clair

Discipline

Gap and eye discipline on defense, and executional discipline on offense. Against a team like the Chiefs, and the offense they run, Denver is going to need to be assignment sound on defense and not get caught in all the movement and motions they’ll throw at you.

On offense, you can’t afford drive-killing penalties, drops, or missed throws, all of which have hurt the Broncos in key moments so far this season. — Jeff Essary

Clean QB play

Case Keenum has to get his head on straight. To win, he needs his first zero-turnover game of the season while delivering the ball consistently and leading the team on long scoring drives. Give the defense time to rest. By the same token, Bill Musgrave needs to call a game that plays to Keenum’s strengths like he did against Arizona. — Taylor Kothe

Acceptance

We will have to realize and accept that the Broncos are a ways away and the Chiefs are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. As painful as both realities are, many of us fans will reach that critical acceptance phase after this game. The search for a franchise quarterback continues in 2019. — Tim Lynch

(Editor’s note:) Tim comes in like ...

Change the game

The Broncos can beat Kansas City. Denver might not be able to beat the Chiefs in a football game, but I’m quite certain it can find a game that it can beat them. For instance, if a game of basketball broke out. Maybe the Broncos should sit down and play UNO at midfield. Changing the game completely is a surefire way to beat a team that would not expect to have to play Monopoly.

That changing the game bit might be the most important aspect. Denver has to change things up and confuse the Chiefs. If the Broncos can come out and show different looks, run an up tempo offense, and confuse KC, they could come away with a win. Or they could just challenge them to a game of four-square. — Adam Malnati

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What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?