DEFENSE GAINING STEAM
Chris Harris Jr. noted on Monday that the defense's performance against the Chiefs -- in which they allowed 151 yards and forced three turnovers -- was a good indicator of the chemistry that's developing on that side of the ball.
"I feel like we came together as a whole for the first time all season," Harris said. "It looked like guys were having fun and really love playing with each other and that's something that we needed. That's something that I've seen from other teams that are doing well right now—that enthusiasm they have playing with each other. I think last night was the first time we really showed that as a team."
The intensity and energy the team brought against Alex Smith and the Chiefs matched what Jack Del Rio expects from his unit at all times.
"The urgency that we want to play with, that's something that I am going to demand every day that I'm in this position," Del Rio said Thursday. "It's something I believe in, there's a mentality you have to play with. You're playing together, you need to do it urgently, you need to do it together."
The defensive coordinator said that now, he just wants to see that sort of performance on a week-to-week basis.
"You start doing that and you build some of that momentum and some of that feel, and I saw it for the most part throughout the game last week and that was good," he said. "That just means this week we've got to go back and start over with the preparation, get yourself geared up mentally, physically, emotionally to do it again. And that's the challenge each week for everybody that plays in this league."
That tenacity paid dividends with the turnovers, as the Broncos had three takeaways for only the second time this season. Del Rio noted that he can't "give a weekly update" on what new predator-prey videos the team is watching each Thursday. Two weeks ago, it was sharks and seals.
"It was very good this week though," Del Rio said. "Last week was very good as well. We got a few [turnovers] going last week, we know we'll get them. Turnovers come in bunches and we have "Turnover Thursday" every week, and it was a very good presentation by [defensive assistant] Chris Beake, so hopefully it generates the turnovers we're looking for."
Take a look at the Broncos' defense hunting for takeaways at Thursday's practice.
ANDERSON HANDLING WORKLOAD**
C.J. Anderson set a career high in carries in each of the last two weeks, with 27 against the Dolphins and then 32 in Kansas City. But he isn't exactly any worse for the wear, despite the heavy workload.
"He's a big guy," Adam Gase said Thursday. "He finds a way to not take that direct shot, in the last two games especially. With the amount of carries he's had, he's probably only taken one shot where he didn't see it and that was the one [Chiefs LB] Tamba [Hali] got him on. We missed that block and I don't think he saw him off the edge, but for the most part he does a great job of putting himself in a great position of not taking that direct hit."
The more extensive work certainly hasn't led to diminished efficiency -- the second-year back averaged 6.2 yards per carry versus Miami and 5.3 against the Chiefs, right around his season average of 5.5 per carry. If anything, he might be getting in a better rhythm. After picking up 59 of his 167 (35.3 percent) yards after contact and forcing six missed tackles against the Dolphins, Anderson gained 106 of 168 (64.3 percent) yards after contact in KC, forcing 13 missed tackles in the process. Still, how much he gets used this weekend against Buffalo remains to be seen.
"Any game is different," Gase said. "We will see how it goes. We have success and we feel good about the guys that are behind him as well to be able to throw them in there and mix it up."
BILLS' DANGEROUS FRONT FOUR**
After facing a slew of disruptive D-lines through 12 weeks, it won't get any easier for the Broncos' offense on Sunday.
"The schedule-makers don't like us," Gase said with a laugh. "Every week it seems like the front gets better. This group is really good. Three guys with double-digit sacks—you don't see that very often. Their pass rushers are about as good as what we've played against this year."
Making the Bills' unit more challenging is that their interior rushers are about as dangerous as Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes on the edge. Defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus combined for 18 sacks last year and already have 15 as a duo in 2014, to go with 14 additional QB hits.
"That is what gives them a big advantage," Gase said. "[With] four guys that can rush the passer and stop the run the way they do, you have to make a decision on each play and somebody's going to have to hold up one-on-one. I know our guys are up for the challenge and they just know that these guys are a good front."
The offensive line rose to the challenge against the talented front sevens of the Dolphins and Chiefs in recent weeks, making way for Anderson and allowing just two sacks of Peyton Manning. Gase said that the interior O-line in particular -- left guard Orlando Franklin, center Will Montgomery and right guard Manny Ramirez -- will have to execute well on Sunday. "It's going to be a challenge for those three guys," Gase said. "The good thing is I like the size of our two guards and then what Will brings to the table as far as his ability to laterally get to that second level, I really like our matchups. It's tough. Kyle Williams, he doesn't get a lot of credit but he is tough. I was around him when we were at LSU a long time ago and the guy's been the same for a long time. He's that [defender] nobody really accounts for. He causes a lot of problems."