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Keeping Their Heads Down

Posted Nov 28, 2012

The Broncos aren't concerned with a chance at clinching an AFC West title this Sunday. Instead, they're keeping all their focus on the task at hand -- a battle with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- A second consecutive AFC West title is in Denver's grasp.

But that's the last thing the team is focused on with a streaking Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad heading to Sports Authority Field at Mile High this Sunday.

“I think we’ve got to keep our heads down and take it one day at a time," defensive tackle Justin Bannan said. "No sense on fantasizing about anything unless you get the work done. We’ve got a lot of work left. We’ve got a long road ahead of us and really we’ve just got to be focused on this Sunday.”

That's been the mantra all week in the Denver locker room.

The Broncos can clinch the division crown -- and therefore a spot in the postseason -- with a win, a San Diego loss or a tie by both clubs.

But players and coaches have maintained that it's never a good idea to scoreboard watch.

“It’s great to be in that position, but we can’t look too far," running back Lance Ball said. "We’ve got to look at what’s ahead of us and take it day by day, game by game. One game at a time. It sounds so cliché, but it’s true.”

The Broncos have taken that attitude throughout their current six-game win streak, something quarterback Peyton Manning said has directly contributed to the winning.

If the team stays focused on the next opponent on the schedule, it can build off each game and continue to mount momentum down the stretch.

“Certainly when you win, I think it does help," Manning said. "I think you have better practices but you still want to try to improve. The coaches challenge us to improve and I think we have the right kind of players that challenge each other to improve and get better. You’re always trying to play that perfect game. Whether you can or you can’t, but you still strive for that. We still feel like we can improve as a team and we need to improve.”

"You want to be playing your best football, hopefully, here in the month of December.”

With a defense that has been stout against the run -- allowing only 81.5 yards per game -- and opportunistic in the secondary -- snaring 16 interceptions already this season -- the Buccaneers give the Denver offense plenty to think about.

On the other side of the ball, weapons the likes of quarterback Josh Freeman, running back Doug Martin and wide receiver Vincent Jackson have helped the Bucs -- winners of four of their last five -- average more than 28.2 points per game, just behind the Broncos in the league rankings.

That type of challenge makes it easy for Denver to keep its eyes on the task at hand.

“All our focus right now is on Tampa Bay," Head Coach John Fox said, adding that playoff-clinching scenarios are better left for the media to discuss. "We’re just, right now, locked and loaded on preparation for the Tampa Bay Bucs.”