ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – To advance to the AFC Championship game, the Broncos will have to get through the Baltimore Ravens.
It's something the team has already proved it could do once. In Week 15, Denver traveled to Baltimore and left with a 34-17 victory. It was a dominant performance in many ways for the Broncos, who led 31-3 after the third quarter and finished the game with 21 first downs to just 12 for the Ravens.
But the regular-season success doesn't guarantee a similar outcome in the AFC Divisional Round rematch.
"What we did before doesn't matter," defensive end Derek Wolfe said. "That's just a chip on their shoulder. We have to come out and play even better than we did (in Week 15)."
Beating a team twice in one season is no easy task. Even within the division, the Broncos have only gone undefeated against AFC West opponents twice in franchise history. One of those times was this season, however, as Denver defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders twice.
"You can say it's like a division game," safety Mike Adams said of the team's fourth rematch of the year. "When you play them the first time, and you win, the second time around you think you know the team. You're like, 'Oh, I got 'em now. I got 'em.' And that's the mentality they're coming in with: 'They got us one time, we're not going to let it happen again.' We have the same mentality, that's why it's going to be great game."
Defensive tackle Justin Bannan believes that what happened in Week 15 will be irrelevant when Saturday's Divisional Round game kicks off.
"Each game's different, even if we play a team twice, it doesn't matter," Bannan said. "We've just got to come out ready to go."
Against both the Raiders and the Chargers, the Broncos won the second matchup by a narrower margin than the first. So the Broncos are aware it will be a difficult task to beat the Ravens the second time around, but the club is confident in its abilities.
"It's definitely a challenge beating a team twice," cornerback Chris Harris said. "This team that we have, we're pretty good, solid, overall pretty balanced. We know if we go out there and play our game, try to eliminate the turnovers and force turnovers, we think we should be fine."
After defeating Baltimore 34-17 in Week 15, the team's main priority is to duplicate the effort it produced in December. Because Denver got the outcome it was looking for, it's possible that the Ravens will make plenty of game-plan changes, as they will be looking to turn the tables. With that in mind, Wolfe doesn't expect to see many of the same looks he saw in December.
"It's extremely difficult, because they are the ones to make the changes," Wolfe said. "What changes do we make? What we did last time worked. We just have to adjust to what they do when the game starts."
In addition to the changes the Ravens will likely incorporate into their game plan, the Broncos will be facing a team determined not to lose to the same opponent twice, which means they will need to be at their best in preparation for Saturday.
"It's all difficult," Head Coach John Fox said. "It's not easy. You've got a lot of competitive people. It's a competitive business. Beating anybody once is hard, so we'll just focus on what it's going to take for us to play well."