DENVER — The Broncos have little choice but to take their games as they come — especially for a 15-day stretch of autumn that, as a whole, represents what Robert Frost would have called the point where “two roads diverge in a yellow wood.”

The Broncos would prefer the smooth trail. But the 49ers, Chargers and Patriots offer the potential for a bumpy ride. And if the Broncos look ahead, they set themselves up for failure. The rival Chargers co-leaders visit just 96 hours after the 49ers take the field, but the Broncos can’t get caught with even a passing glance at the AFC West co-leaders.

“They’re going to have all our focus and when it’s time to focus on San Diego, we’ll focus on them and when it’s time to focus on New England, we’ll focus on them,” said defensive tackle . “For right now, we’re focused on San Francisco.”

A demanding stretch of games is nothing new to the Broncos, who opened with the Colts, Chiefs, Seahawks and Cardinals. That quartet finished a collective 45-19 last year, and all remain viable playoff contenders this season.

But cornerback Chris Harris Jr. insists that what looms now is is different from that quartet of games, in which the Broncos went 3-1.

“No, I don’t think we’ve been through the gauntlet yet,” Harris said. “I think this stretch right here is the gauntlet — especially because we’ve got two games in a short period of time. And then you’ve got to go to the road to New England. I would say this stretch right here is the ‘gauntlet stretch.'”

Surviving the first third of the gauntlet could rest on success in the three keys.


The Broncos’ basic strategy will be two-fold use their defensive line to put the 49ers’ …read more