ENGLEWOOD, Colo – The Chiefs come into Denver with the best record in the NFL thanks in large part to the efforts of their defensive unit so far this season.
The Chiefs have the best scoring defense in the league, giving up an average of just 12.3 points per game, and they have registered a league-best 36 sacks – an average of four per game. But the Chiefs have totaled just one sack in the past two contests.
Even though their sack production has decreased recently, Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase is still taking their pass rush very seriously.
"Every game plan for every defense is going to be a little bit different," Gase said. "It's all tailored to what personnel they're facing – if they blitzed a little less the last few games maybe they felt like that was their best thing to do for that game. What we're going to see, I have no idea.
"We just have to prepare for what we've seen on film and adjust as the game goes on."
Conversely, the Broncos' offensive line has been trending in the opposite direction. After allowing just five sacks in the first six games, the Broncos have allowed Peyton Manning to get sacked eight times in the last three weeks.
That's a trend that Gase wants to see end this Sunday and doing so will take a collective effort from the offensive unit, not just the line.
"It's a group effort all the way around," Gase said. "I know the O-Line gets a lot of blame but it's backs, it's receivers getting open, it's making sure that we're getting rid of the ball on time. It's a full group effort. Right now, we're one of the fewest sacked teams in the league. It's a little bit to do with the line, a little bit to do with the fact that our quarterback gets rid of the ball fairly quickly, but we have to get better as a group. If everyone does their job the right way, we'll get better in that area."
Limiting the Turnovers
Another major factor in the Chiefs' success has been their ability to limit their own turnovers while forcing their opponents into turnovers. Kansas City boasts the best turnover differential in the league at plus-15 – four clear of the second-best mark in the league.
So far this year the Broncos have a negative-two turnover differential. Limiting turnovers Sunday will go a long way towards a Broncos victory since it would keep the Chiefs offense off the field.
"We have to do everything we can to make it as hard as possible for these guys," Gase said. "The last thing we need to do is carelessly lay it on the ground. That's been a big point of emphasis, obviously every week it has. We just need to try to make sure we get to that zero turnovers in this game."
Manning has been picked off just six times this year but the Broncos have lost 12 fumbles, including one in the third quarter last week in San Diego.
Gase said that not only has protecting the ball been a point of emphasis this week, it has been since the offseason.
"I think we've emphasized it enough since the spring," he said. "The thing that we have to make sure that we do is that it can't be the unnecessary – free runner, fumbled exchange, if we're in the open field we can't put the ball on the ground."
Osweiler Running Practice
Wednesday, Manning sat out of practice giving backup Brock Osweiler a chance at reps with the first team. Osweiler has seen action in one game this season – Week 4 against the Eagles.
"Anytime Brock can get those live reps against out scout team and against our defense when we go our ones versus ones – those are huge for him," Gase said. "The only thing that could be better for him is if he's ever in a game and hopefully we can hold off that tenure for a while."
In the Eagles game, he connected on two of three pass attempts for 10 yards but his only other action in 2013 came in the preseason. Osweiler had a productive preseason as he completed 65.5 percent of his attempts for 368 yards.
As for this weekend, Manning is expected to play after he returned to practice – albeit in a limited capacity – Thursday.
"We want to get as much work with (Osweiler) when we can." Gase said. "And when Peyton gets back in there we're rolling like we always do."