ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – In the first matchup of the season between the Broncos and Raiders, Denver turned in one of its best performances of the year.
The 37-6 victory marked the club's widest margin of victory, and the Broncos also set season-bests in both points scored and allowed.
"We started figuring out what we were good at," cornerback Champ Bailey said. "We made some plays in that game and one thing I do remember, we got after the quarterback pretty good and I know they know that and they're going to find ways to protect (quarterback) Carson Palmer a lot better this time around."
In Week 4, the Broncos turned a 10-6 game at halftime into a blowout as the offense exploded for 21 third-quarter points. By the game's conclusion, Denver's dominance was as evident on the stat sheet as the scoreboard, as the Broncos picked up 26 first downs to just 12 for Oakland, with the offense moving the chains so efficiently that punter Britton Colquitt was never called upon.
"Obviously offensively we'd love to clone that last performance we had against the Raiders," tight end Joel Dreessen said. "I don't think we punted a single time. If we could do that, we'll be doing just fine."
Nothing that happened back in September, however, means the second time around against Oakland will play out the same way.
"We know better," defensive end Derek Wolfe said. "Definitely, like you said, we know better than to sleep on any team. Especially in Oakland, on Thursday night primetime, those guys are going to be fired up so we have to come out and match their intensity."
Another factor the Broncos will be ignoring is the Raiders' record. When the game kicks off, the fact that Denver is 9-3 and Oakland is 3-9 will be irrelevant.
"(Head) Coach (John) Fox says it all the time, records and stats, all that stuff gets thrown out the window because teams every week are fighting for something," Dreessen said. "They're fighting for their jobs, they're fighting for a playoff spot, they're fighting for playoff positioning. Every team has something to prove when they take the field."
One benefit for Denver will be team's familiarity with the opponent. Taking on a division rival they see twice a year and have seen once already in 2012 will ease the task of preparing, which is convenient due to the short turnaround between Sunday's win over Tampa Bay and Thursday night's game.
"It definitely makes it a little easier because we've played against these guys and we're a little bit more comfortable with going against them," cornerback Chris Harris said. "More familiar with what they do and we still have to prepare like it's another great week, another great team, another good opponent. We just have to continue to get better."
The Broncos will have no shortage of motivation going into Thursday's game. They have a chance to improve their AFC West record to 5-0. A win would also extend Denver's winning streak to eight games. And more importantly, the team needs to win to keep alive its hopes for a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs.
"We're just trying to make it, since we're in the playoffs now, just trying to make it a little bit easier for us going into the playoffs," Harris said. "It's going to be tough to get that first-round bye with other teams doing pretty well and us sitting in the 4-seed right now. But the only thing we can do is control what we're trying to do and that's win out."