KANSAS CITY — The Broncos enter their Week 6 matchup against the Chiefs in search of their first divisional win of the season, and they'll attempt to end a 15-game streak at the hands of Kansas City in the process.
And while tackle Mike McGlinchey acknowledged earlier in the week that the Broncos must "do our part to make it a rivalry again," Denver's first prime-time test of the season may be more about an internal focus on this singular game.
"The important thing is that we've got to create a new history," quarterback Wilson said after Tuesday's practice. "We have to be able to do that with one play at a time, one moment at a time, one game at a time. … Every game has a history of its own, and we've got to be focused on this one and go win this game."
Added Head Coach Sean Payton: "So often in this league, it's inward. When you're playing well, they become faceless opponents. I mean that with respect to whoever you're playing. It's about getting yourself and your team ready to play."
As Denver aims to snap a skid against Kansas City, here's a look at a question for the Broncos to answer, a matchup to watch and a stat to know.
ONE BIG QUESTION:
Can the Broncos close out a close one?
While the Broncos' streak against the Chiefs stretches back to 2015, there has been no shortage of close calls. Four of the Broncos' last five games against Kansas City have been one-score affairs, and the Broncos led entering the fourth quarter in last season's Week 17 meeting in Arrowhead.
"We're confident in the guys in this locker room and the group we have," Kareem Jackson said Tuesday. "It's all about us going and executing. One-score games, that means one or two plays here and there, it can go the other way, so we've got to find a way to make those plays."
The Broncos converted their chances in a Week 4 win against Chicago, and they fell just short on game-tying drive attempts vs. Washington and New York. Wilson, who has spoken about the importance of making game-altering plays, said the Broncos must be ready to capitalize on their chances.
"It's going to be a game that's going to go back and forth," Wilson said, "and we've got to be the ones who end up on top."
For the Broncos to do that, they'll aim to start fast and sustain a strong performance across an entire contest. Denver has led at halftime in three of its five losses and has currently lost 10 consecutive games in which it led at halftime.
"Putting four quarters together is obviously one of the things I made a note of this morning," Payton said Monday.
MATCHUP TO WATCH:
Travis Kelce vs. Denver's defense
Kansas City's All-Pro tight end is questionable for "Thursday Night Football," but he'll need to be one of Denver's main focuses if he is able to play in Week 6.
The Chiefs' lone loss this year came with Kelce on the sideline, and he leads the Chiefs with 27 catches, 222 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns since returning. He has posted at least 60 receiving yards in each of his last three games, and he's scored a touchdown in three of four games.
Kelce has been a consistent thorn in their side during this extended stretch. Since the start of 2016, Kelce has five 100-yard games against the Broncos and has posted six touchdown receptions. Denver has been better in recent matchups at containing Kelce — he's had fewer than 45 yards in three of the last four games vs. Denver — but the Broncos must find ways to avoid letting the talented player beat them.
If Kelce cannot play, wide receiver Justin Watson may be the Chiefs' next top target. he's averaged 21.9 yards per reception, which ranks second in the NFL among players with at least 10 receptions. Only Denver's Marvin Mims Jr. ranks higher in that category.
The Broncos, of course, must also be dedicated to stopping the run. Denver has allowed 187.6 rushing yards per game and permitted the Jets to rack up 150 second-half rushing yards in Week 5.
"it's going to be tough to win games if we can't stop the run defensively, and we have to get it cleaned up," Payton said Monday. "I'd start with [filling] the right gaps and then understanding, scheme-wise, what we're getting and how to restrict those holes. ... It's not communication, it's technique, but that has to get better."
STAT TO KNOW:
Despite the Chiefs' win streak, quarterback Patrick Mahomes has thrown eight interceptions against the Broncos during his career. That's the most the two-time MVP has thrown against any opponent, as he hasn't tossed more than five picks against another team. Safety Justin Simmons, cornerback Pat Surtain II and inside linebacker Josey Jewell all have multiple interceptions against Mahomes; only two other players across the league can stake the same claim. Jewell snagged a pair of picks to nearly spark a home comeback last season, and the Broncos will look to force takeaways to spring an upset on Thursday night.
The Broncos are 0-3 this season in games in which they've lost the turnover battle, and their lone win came when they earned a plus-two margin in Chicago. Denver may need to force Mahomes into mistakes and play clean football offensively to sneak out of Arrowhead with a win.
Denver must also find a way to play improved football across their defense. The Broncos rank at the bottom of the NFL in points per game and yards allowed, and they'll face the league's best third-down offense. Mahomes and Co., though, have yet to find their normal stride in other areas; they are currently scoring 25.6 points per game and averaging 1.6 giveaways per game, which would be their worst outputs of the Mahomes era. If Denver can play closer to the way it did in the first half of Week 5, the Broncos could find success.