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Denver Controls Destiny, Remains Focused

Posted Dec 17, 2012

The Broncos can cement a first-round bye by winning out. But Denver is focused solely on this week's opponent.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- When it comes to playoff seeding, the Broncos control their own fate.

With New England's loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night, Denver moved into the No. 2 spot in the AFC's postseason bracket.

Each of the top two seeds earn a first-round playoff bye. If Denver wins out, it will hold onto that bye. If the Houston Texans also lose out against the Minnesota Vikings and Indianapolis Colts, the Broncos would grab the No. 1 overall seed.

"Everybody understands the situation we’re in," wide receiver Brandon Stokley said. "We haven’t accomplished anything yet. It’s all about playing your best football in January. You want to feel good about what you do at the end of the regular season.”

Head Coach John Fox acknowledged on Monday that the team understands it controls its own destiny, but that's not the club's concern.

"If we don’t play our best game against Cleveland this week, that will be all for naught," Fox said. "So all our focus will be on the Cleveland Browns, a team that’s won three out of four games."

The talk of one-game-at-a-time doesn't ring hollow inside Dove Valley. The Broncos have prided themselves on giving each team they've played equal attention, and that attitude has brought nine consecutive wins with it.

It's a mantra that has been repeated again and again in the locker room, and it hasn't changed as the team prepares to take on the Browns at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday.

"Cleveland is a very good team," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "They beat Pittsburgh, they beat Cincinnati -- two playoff-contending teams. They’ve got a great running game, and their defense is stout. Our focus isn’t on whether we get a bye or not. It’s on beating (Cleveland) and taking care of this week.”

Decker noted that if the Broncos take care of their own business in the next two weeks, "everything else will take care of itself." So there's no reason to scoreboard-watch or get too far ahead of the task at hand.

Fox doesn't anticipate that will be a problem.

"You get what you emphasize," he said. "We emphasize getting better every week and diving into the preparation. The old adage that you play like you practice has been the best measuring stick that I know of. At this point in the season, an old track coach told me way back — when I was more svelte and faster — you never look at the finish. You stay focused and you look straight ahead."

"That’ll be our mindset."