2014 DRAFT GUIDE
Broncos stay bland but focused

    2012-12-27 03:02

(Eds: Updates. With AP Photos.)
By EDDIE PELLS
AP National Writer

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) - They are 16-point favorites against a team tied for the worst record in the league. With each and every victory over the span of a 10-game winning streak, their once-narrow path to the Super Bowl has grown as wide as an eight-lane highway.

But think you'll catch the Denver Broncos looking past the Kansas City Chiefs this week? Don't bet on it.

If the Broncos have taken even a moment to think ``big picture'' this season - or think about anything beyond their next opponent - they've done a great job hiding it.

``As soon as you start thinking about the Super Bowl, you get beat so fast and you're going to be back at home before you know it,'' free safety Rahim Moore said.

From the free safety to the head coach to Peyton Manning to the 53rd man on the roster, this has been the theme all year - think about next Sunday, think about getting better every week, and let the future take care of itself.

Boring? Yes.

Predictable? Absolutely.

Effective? You bet.

And nobody has stuck to the script better in 2012 than the Denver Broncos.

``We're focused on trying to get better,'' Manning said. ``I think we've done a good job with that all season, just taking it one week at a time. I know it's a boring cliche, but I think coach (John) Fox has preached it. I think our team has bought into it, and I feel like we'll do the same this week.''

Whether they acknowledge it or not, the playoff picture has been looking prettier every week for the Broncos (12-3). By topping Kansas City and extending their winning streak to 11, which would be the second longest in franchise history, they would wrap up a first-round bye. If they win and the Houston Texans lose to Indianapolis, the Broncos would be the top-seeded team in the AFC.

The experts in Las Vegas aren't even waiting for Sunday's game to express their feelings.

The Broncos, at 4-1, are now the favorite to win the Super Bowl, followed by New England at 5-1 and Green Bay at 6-1.

They have come by that status honestly, winning their last 10 games by an average score of 31-17 and making most of those wins as predictable as the well-worn quotes about taking things one game at a time that they serve up on a daily basis.

``I grew up around San Diego and went to the horse track a lot,'' Fox said. ``There were a lot of favorites and it didn't work out that way a lot of times. You've got to earn this between the lines and it won't affect our attitude or mindset moving forward.''

Now, just because they don't get ahead of themselves this isn't to say the Broncos are completely devoid of personality.

Manning has a wry sense of humor and, when he's up to it, can be introspective; last Sunday he spoke in depth about his comeback road this season, insisting that despite the year he's having, he is not the same as he was in his prime.

Von Miller likes to dance after his sacks - all 17 1/2 of them.

Champ Bailey is almost always as thoughtful during an interview as he is good in one-on-one coverage.

Maybe it's because of well-respected, focused leaders such as Manning and Bailey that there are no troublemakers in the locker room, nobody serving up bulletin-board material and, for the most part, no complainers, save cornerback Tracy Porter, whose tweets about lack of playing time earlier this month were quickly and quietly tamped down by the team.

All of which keeps the focus on football, and the Broncos are perfecting the art of the easy win.

Home or road, tough opponent or not, Denver's wins have looked very similar week after week: They take a two- or three-touchdown lead and coast to a relatively easy win, yet still sprinkle in enough mistakes to keep the day-after film session interesting.

Bugaboos from last week's 34-12 win over Cleveland: Penalties. The Broncos committed 11 of them, a season high. Ball security. Broncos punt returners Trindon Holliday and Jim Leonhard bobbled one ball apiece but didn't lose either. Interceptions. Bad communication between Manning and Knowshon Moreno caused a second-quarter turnover against Cleveland - Denver's first inside the opponent's 10-yard line this season.

``You get concerned with everything,'' Fox said. ``The bottom line, as I mentioned yesterday, it's all about winning. You strive for perfection but they're never perfect.''

Even while he's having what will, statistically, wind up as one of his top three seasons as a pro - 103.7 passer rating, 34 touchdown passes and 4,355 yards - Manning never walks off the field satisfied. That sets the tone for the entire team.

``I think we've made some strides each week,'' he said. ``I still have to admit that it's not going to be an offense that's been together for five years. It's not going to look like that because we haven't. We've only been together for however many weeks, so we've tried to improve each week, but a lot of things just take time. We're trying to do the best we can in this limited amount of time.''

So far, that's been very good.

Lest the Broncos get complacent, especially with what looks like an overmatched opponent coming into Denver on Sunday, Fox can always pull out a number of well-worn bromides to keep his players' attention.

-''On any given Sunday.'' (Yes, he really says that.)

-''The other team gets paid, too.'' (A ready-made answer for any of Denver's shortcomings, which were more pronounced when the Broncos were 2-3 earlier this season.)

-''We don't look at the record, we look at the tape.'' (An easy one this week, because Kansas City's 2-13 record looks much less impressive than its toughly fought 17-9 loss to Denver did last month.)

``Does that translate to wins?'' Fox said of his way of keeping the players focused on the task at hand. ``Well, it has for us lately, and we'll see next week.''

NOTES: KR Holliday (ankle), CB Porter and OL Chris Kuper (ankle, headaches) all missed practice Wednesday. ... Fox is going for his 100th win as a head coach in what will be his 500th overall game as a college and NFL coach. ... RB Knowshon Moreno is averaging 3.9 yards a carry on 124 carries this season and the Broncos are ranked 25th in the league in average yards per rushing attempt.

Fantasy Football Player Notes RSS FeedPLAYER NOTES

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 07:42p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) has done conditioning work and will be evaluated again Friday, Nov. 21.

Eric KushNov 20 07:03p

The Kansas City Chiefs have declared WR A.J. Jenkins, QB Aaron Murray, CB Christopher Owens, WR Donnie Avery, C Eric Kush, CB Jamell Fleming, OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif inactive for Week 12.

Matt McGloinNov 20 07:03p

The Oakland Raiders have declared CB Carlos Rogers, TE David Ausberry, OG Gabe Jackson, SS Jonathan Dowling, QB Matt McGloin, OG Tony Bergstrom, CB Travis Carrie inactive for Week 12.

Charles ClayNov 20 06:42p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Tauren PooleNov 20 06:42p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Tauren Poole Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jordan CameronNov 20 06:12p

Cleveland Browns TE Jordan Cameron (concussion) did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Arian FosterNov 20 05:52p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) did not practice Thursday, Nov. 20, after being limited the previous day.

Pierre ThomasNov 20 05:42p

New Orleans Saints RB Pierre Thomas (rib, shoulder) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20. Thomas has missed the last four games, but he said there's a chance that [ More ]

Jerick McKinnonNov 20 05:32p

Minnesota Vikings RB Jerick McKinnon (back) was limited in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Jimmy SmithNov 20 04:32p

Baltimore Ravens CB Jimmy Smith (foot) said Thursday, Nov. 20, that a Lisfranc injury is the reason he is out for the rest of the season.

Montee BallNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Ronnie HillmanNov 20 04:22p

Denver Broncos RBs Montee Ball (groin) and Ronnie Hillman (foot) both did not practice for the second straight day Thursday, Nov. 20.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 20 04:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) is optimistic he'll be able to play Sunday, Nov. 23. He went through rehabilitation Wednesday, Nov. 19 and Thursday, Nov. 20.

James AndersonNov 20 04:02p

The Atlanta Falcons signed LB James Anderson (Titans) Thursday, Nov. 20. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Josh GordonNov 20 04:02p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon was amped up and excited to take part in his first practice with the team this year Wednesday, Nov. 19, but QB Brian Hoyer [ More ]

Charles ClayNov 20 03:02p

Miami Dolphins TE Charles Clay (knee) is expected to be a game-time decision for Week 12 because of a knee injury.

Dwayne AllenNov 20 02:32p

Indianapolis Colts TE Dwayne Allen (ankle) missed his second straight day of practice Thursday, Nov. 20, and The Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer would bet on Allen sitting out this weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Larry FitzgeraldNov 20 02:12p

Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald (knee) was not participating during the media-access portion of practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Julius ThomasNov 20 01:32p

Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas (ankle) is not participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Emmanuel SandersNov 20 01:22p

Denver Broncos WR Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) is not participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Giovani BernardNov 20 01:12p

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (clavicle, hip) is participating in practice Thursday, Nov. 20.

Reggie BushNov 20 01:02p

Detroit Lions RB Reggie Bush (ankle) said he is on track to play against the New England Patriots in Week 12. He was not able to play in Week 11 because of the injury.

Josh GordonNov 20 12:32p

Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon is expected to be limited in Week 12 because it will be his first game of the season, and the team does not want [ More ]

Adrian PetersonNov 20 11:52a

Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson has officially appealed his suspension, according to a source. The NFL Players Association is looking for a neutral arbitrator to hear the case, but [ More ]

Arian FosterNov 20 09:13a

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) is likely share carries with RB Alfred Blue if he plays in Week 12.

LeGarrette BlountNov 20 08:32a

The New England Patriots signed free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount (Steelers) to a two-year deal for the veteran's minimum plus incentives Thursday, Nov. 20.

Giovani BernardNov 20 01:13a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Giovani Bernard (clavicle, hip) will be eased back into the lineup, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Wednesday, Nov. 19. 'I think we've got to work him [ More ]

Jeremy HillNov 20 01:13a

Cincinnati Bengals RB Jeremy Hill is likely to get a bulk of the carries in Week 12 against the Houston Texans, according to beat writer Geoff Hobson, despite the [ More ]

LeGarrette BlountNov 19 09:33p

Free-agent RB LeGarrette Blount (Steelers) went unclaimed on waivers Wednesday, Nov. 19, and is now an unrestricted free agent available to sign with any club.

Brian LeonardNov 19 09:33p

The New Orleans Saints released RB Brian Leonard Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Jalen SaundersNov 19 09:33p

The New Orleans Saints signed WR Jalen Saunders off the practice squad of the Seattle Seahawks Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Arian FosterNov 19 06:33p

Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (groin) was limited in practice Wednesday, Nov. 19.

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