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Sean Payton isn’t focused on the playoff picture right now

The Denver Broncos head coach breaks down his ‘one game at a time’ mentality.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Denver Broncos Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Following a win (and scorigami) on Sunday afternoon, the Denver Broncos are now 6-5. They have a winning record, coupled with a five-game victory streak. It almost feels unreal for Broncos Country.

This drastic turnaround wasn’t foreseen by many. Not even Sean Payton himself planned on a five-win streak specifically; but the team kept their heads up while working to change the narrative of who the 2023 Denver Broncos are.

“I think at 1-5 it’s not, ‘Well, we can get to 6-5.’ It’s getting the second win, and then maybe draw on some examples of what we have to do to begin to [win],” the head coach shared regarding the shift in performance, adding, “I don’t think you’re looking that far ahead.”

Payton was certain about one thing, and that was the team’s ability to lean on one another to make each win happen. “You’re relying on your leadership and guys rolling up their sleeves and getting ready to go to work. That’s the only way that I know how to dig out. You credit the team for doing that.”

Despite some silver linings starting to poke through the clouds, Payton is not yet interested in giving his full focus to the playoff picture. Asked about it, he said, “You guys will handle that for me. I know you will. I’m just focused on what do we have to do to win this game. I say that because it’s that time of the year, and rightfully so, where there’s a list of other teams.”

Continuing, he explained that while it makes sense for the media to make predictions on all possible teams this time of year, the Broncos’ target has to be the game immediately in front of them. “We put ourselves in a position where each of these games becomes more and more important, but the focus has to be strictly on this one. I think it kind of is what it is.”

Basically, it’s the ‘one game at a time’ mentality, and the team is behind it. “I know it’s cliché, one game at a time,” Payton admitted, “But my point is—I think it’s so important to just immerse yourself in the things you can control. The things you can’t control—man, let’s not waste a new battery life on those things.”

By expending energy only on things he and the team can control, it allows them to carefully prioritize the right variables instead of treating every single piece with looming importance. “Here are the facts about who we’re playing, then alright, what do we have to do to play well in this game, and then kind of go from there.”

It makes sense why they’re choosing to buckle down and take it one game at a time: each game coming up is crucial, given that the team started with a losing record.

“These games are important,” Payton emphasized, “When you dig yourself in a hole at the start of the season, then there’s a little less wiggle room down the stretch.”

On December 3rd, the 6-5 Broncos will come face to face with the 6-5 Houston Texans in a showdown that will inevitably affect the AFC Wildcard contenders. It’s my hope that the team will be able to keep their focus on the game at hand and only that, as it seems to be working for them. In the meantime, we have place to celebrate another victory.