ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In all but one game during the Broncos' 10-game winning streak, they have led by double-digits at some point during the fourth quarter.
Though late scores by San Diego in Week 11 and Tampa Bay in Week 13 resulted in one-possession margins of victory, those games lacked the drama that the final scores might indicate.
The only team to stay within striking distance of Denver for four quarters during the current winning streak was Kansas City, which had three fourth-quarter possessions that started with the Chiefs trailing by just five points. The Broncos didn't seal the victory in Kansas City until a 12-play, six-minute drive resulted in a short field goal and an eight-point lead with just 14 seconds to play.
The memory of the fight the Chiefs put up in Week 12 is still fresh in the Broncos locker room.
"It's a great test for us going against this defense," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "(Kansas City) held us to 17 points last time and there's some things they did well, some things that we can do better, and it's a great test from that standpoint. That's what we're going to try to use this week as -- a chance to try to improve."
One of the biggest reasons Denver was unable to pull away from Kansas City in the previous meeting was the play of Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles, who picked up 107 yards rushing on 23 carries. Charles is one of just three opposing rushers to top the 100-yard mark against the Broncos this season. Preventing him from having another big day on the ground is one of the top priorities for the Broncos defense, which is ranked third in the NFL against the run.
"That's the task in front of us," Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio said. "They're very good at it. They've got a big, physical line. They've got a bunch of talented backs, including a Pro Bowler who's had a sensational year coming back from injury. That's the challenge. They've run it on everybody. They ran it like crazy last week, and they ran it pretty good last time (in Week 12). We've just got to man up, get off blocks and tackle, and get them off the field."
Charles enters Week 17 third in the NFL in rushing with 1,456 yards and an impressive average of 5.4 yards per carry. In seven career games against the Broncos, Johnson has averaged 5.8 yards per carry and gained 599 yards rushing.
"It's going to be a good challenge," defensive end Elvis Dumervil said. "He had 100 (yards) against us the first week, the first time we played them, so we've got our work cut out for us. We've got to make sure we stop a really good running back."
With runs of 80, 86 and 91 yards, Charles' combination of straight-line speed and cutback ability gives the Kansas City offense a home run threat that has the full attention of the Denver defense.
"He reads the holes and reads his blocks better than most in the league," safety Rahim Moore said. "Once he puts his foot in the ground and gets a crease, he is gone. There is no catching him. He has been doing that since he came into the league. He is having a fantastic season. He is a big-time competitor so we're looking forward to it."