ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- With a whole month of games left in the season, the Broncos have already set themselves up for the postseason.
Sunday's 31-23 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers assured the team of a second consecutive AFC West crown, a spot in the playoffs and at least one extra home game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
But the club isn't ready to celebrate quite yet.
"It's one step," cornerback Champ Bailey said after the game. "It's not like we've done anything, really. We won our division. Next step is to just keep climbing in these playoffs. That's all we can concentrate on."
That mentality was echoed by Head Coach John Fox in his weekly press conference on Monday.
Just because the team is in the playoffs doesn't mean the next four games are irrelevant.
Quite the opposite.
"We always say people remember what you do in December," Fox said. "So that's what we have ahead of us. We've got a division game coming up. Hopefully Friday we get to 5-0 in the division so far. There's a lot to play for. We'll see where that leads us."
Fox indicated that going undefeated in the division is one of the "carrots" that the team has ahead of it to produce inspired football down the stretch.
Another is improving the club's turnover margin. Fox said that is an area the team is "not very good in right now," and harkened back to his 2003 Carolina Panthers squad, which lost the turnover battle in the regular season but turned it around in the playoffs, using a plus-9 ratio in the postseason to reach Super Bowl XXXVIII.
But there's more to it than just those goals.
Playoff seeding is important. The No. 1 seed, currently held by the Houston Texans, brings home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with it. The No. 2 seed -- currently a three-way tie between the Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots -- provides a first-round bye.
Denver is already assured one of the top four seeds as a division champ. Regardless of where they end up, Fox said the team needs to be playing its best football when the postseason tournament begins.
"If you look back, I don't know the exact history of it, but I don't know how many times the No. 1 seed has won in the last 10 years," Fox said.
To his point, a No. 1 seed has won the big game just three times in the past 10 years, the same number of times a wild-card team has taken the title during that span.
"People come from all over the map because they're playing their best ball during that time," he continued. "We want to start building for that and we want to start this week against Oakland."