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Chris Harris Jr. calls Chiefs’ matchup a ‘season-changing’ game

The cornerback believes a win at Arrowhead is not impossible and could mean a huge turnaround for the Broncos’ season.

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Denver Broncos Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Broncos Country!

What Halloween party, you say? Exactly, says Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr.

There’s a game to play on Sunday and the two vets know where their minds need to be.

On football.

Make that on really good football by the visiting team.

“I’m done talking about the party,” said Chris Harris Jr. “I’ve been focusing on the Chiefs since Friday...If you [didn’t] study all weekend and get a jump on these boys, then you’re not trying to win.”

If Von Miller used his “we’re going to kick their asses” comment to the media last week as a subtle message to his teammates, perhaps Harris Jr. had the same idea in mind with his comments.

“I’ve been studying and focusing on them the whole time. This is a big game—this is a season changing game,” he said. “If you’re not focusing on that, all of this other bull-crap that’s going, you’re missing the big point of this game. This is a big game to change our season and get us back rolling.”

Sanders and several other teammates took it to heart.

“It is,” Sanders said about Sunday being a “season-changing” game. “Think about it - go to Arrowhead, beat these guys—a team that’s at the top of our division right now—coming off a big-time game in Arizona. This is a game where we sit back and say, ‘OK, was Arizona a fluke or are we really good?’ That’s what I’m looking forward to seeing.”

Aren’t we all - and that’s going to mean stopping Patrick Mahomes but also scoring a lot of points.

On that second point, Sanders is all in.

“For sure. ...Offensively, we’ve definitely got to go and put up points,” he said. “That’s the goal.”

With the Patriots being the only team to defeat the Chiefs so far - and needing 40 points to do it - the Broncos’ offense knows it can’t waste opportunities.

Hopefully Case Keenum doesn’t just understand this but is capable of orchestrating it too.

“We have to put up enough. Put up more than they do,” Keenum said, pulling out the oldest cliché in the book (besides that one!) “For us offensively, we’re trying to score every time we get the ball. I think if we do that, I think we’re going to come away happy.”

But even Sanders and Keenum admit the Broncos defense is going to need to help them out when trying to “put up more points” than the most prolific quarterback in the NFL this season and a likely NFL MVP.

“Obviously, they’re a great offense, but I have a lot of trust and a lot of faith in our defense,” Keenum said. “I think they have a great plan and a scheme, great players. They can match up well with those guys.”

Sanders added that since head coach Vance Joseph changed the scheme back to focusing on what the defense does well, the defense has played better.

“We know what they’re going to do offensively, but that’s not saying that I don’t believe in our defense - especially with how we played last week, going back and being ourselves,” Sanders said, highlighting an earlier comment about adjustments to the defense against Arizona.

“I like what Coach Joseph did when he made that adjustment going back and playing our style of football. That’s man-high, let Von Miller rush, let Bradley Chubb go loose, and Chris Harris and Bradley Roby, ‘You guys get up there and press these guys,’” Sanders added. “In doing that, the quarterback’s got to make the perfect throw because if he doesn’t it’s going to be an interception. You saw that in Arizona. Hopefully, we’re able to continue that and continue to make those plays on defense and create turnovers so offensively we can be way more aggressive.”

Harris Jr. and his fellow defenders are all for it.

“I’m approaching it like a championship game again,” Harris Jr. said. “You’re going to Arrowhead, a hostile environment. Everybody expects - they need - me, ‘25,’ to come out here and make plays, have an all-star game, an All-Pro game.”

The cornerback is also planning to be more physically prepared after having to get extra I.V.s during the first contest.

“Yeah, I’ll definitely load up on some I.V.s or whatever for the game, as much as I can,” he laughed, adding that he’s already begun extra hydration in preparation for a long, tough game. “Just getting my body ready, knowing that there’s going to be times where we’re going to have to get out and cover for five seconds. It’s going to happen. We’re working on keeping this guy caged in. Make him throw from the pocket, but he’s that good in the pocket to where he can get out and scramble.”

No. 25 also isn’t shy about saying the team is relying on him to be on the field the entire time.

“I’ve got to have my mind ready, be in shape,” he said. “We need me on the field this whole game, I can’t come out like I did last time.”

One of the big takeaways Harris Jr. pulled from film study this week is how most teams “play scared” against Mahomes.

He doesn’t plan on the Broncos’ defense adding to the list as one of those teams this weekend.

“Mahomes, he can make all of the throws. I think with him you just try to pick and choose whether you can make your plays,” he said. “Everybody else playing these guys are [playing] scared. They’re not challenging them. No. 10 (Tyreek Hill) is just running around free. That’s not how we play. When we play them, we get up, we challenge them, put hands on them and that’s how we come to play. We’re not coming to be scared and let guys run for free all day.”

Fellow defensive back Justin Simmons feels exactly the same way.

“If anyone can beat the Chiefs and do it in a defensive fashion, it’s us,” said the safety. “No one else is built defensively like we are to be able to beat the Chiefs, especially at home at their place. ...It’s a tall task, but one that this defense is looking forward to, especially coming off a big win like we had last week. We’re just going to use that momentum to ride into Kansas City and come out with a win. Whatever it takes.”

Harris Jr. has one more piece of advice for his teammates:

“Everybody is going to have to have a great level of mental toughness, championship mindset and don’t be scared. Like I said last time before we played them, ‘If you’re scared, go to church.’ You’ve got to be able to challenge these boys.”

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