It’s hard to argue against the importance of every divisional game, and that importance is exemplified to the nth degree when the division is as neck-and-neck as the AFC West is right now.
The Denver Broncos understand this as well as anybody. Following Sunday’s exciting and refreshing 28-13 victory over the LA Chargers, safety Justin Simmons shed some light on what those pre-game locker conversations looked like, and they sounded more honest than overtly optimistic.
“We know the winning tradition and culture that has been set here for years beyond even when I was born,” Simmons said, “All we want to do, contrary to belief, is go out there and win football games. We want to go out there, we want to win, and we want to play our best ball.”
Simmons stated that as a team, they set out to make Broncos Country proud - from the fans in the stands of their games, to the ones watching on tv and supporting them from far away.
“We have the best fans in the state and the country and the NFL,” he insisted.
He described the locker room conversation on Sunday, and the message was “This is it. This is the season’...you hate to think about it like that but if we don’t win today, our season is on the line.”
And win they did. The finish line isn’t crossed yet, though. Denver needed that game, for sure, and they now have to look ahead to one that will determine their true place in the AFC West: December 5th vs the Kansas City Chiefs.
“We can’t have a ‘Dallas Week,’” The safety said, “We had a good game against Dallas, and we came back the next week and kind of laid an egg against ‘Philly - they played well too.”
Simmons is not quiet about his 1-0 mentality: when a game is over and celebrated (or lamented), it’s left in the past. The focus must always be on moving forward to the next one.
“For us, it means a lot going into next week,” He added, “It’s going to be a really good game. Another statement game. No matter what happens, we have to find a way to leave Arrowhead with a win.”
Buckling down is no joke when remembering that the Broncos have lost to the Chiefs eleven times straight. Asked if the rivalry was personal, Simmons confessed that it has to be.
“Yeah. It’s extremely personal,” No matter what I say up here — no matter how good it sounds, bad it sounds.”
Simmons added that they would celebrate their victory over LA on Sunday, look at the positives of the game, the negatives of the game, and be “all in” on next week.
“We will enjoy this win tonight and really get ready to go up to Arrowhead and find a way to carry this formula over to leave with a win,” he said, “That’s all that matters.”