Broncos haven't lost AFC West road game since 2010

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Demaryius Thomas stood silently at his locker, stumped.

He just couldn't recall the last time the Denver Broncos lost a road game in the AFC West.

''Nope,'' he said finally. ''It wasn't with Peyton.''

That much he knew.

The Broncos have found rarified air away from the Mile High City. Their last defeat in the division at an opponent's stadium came on Dec. 19, 2010, when they lost to Oakland 39-23 in Tim Tebow's first career start.

''That was a long time ago,'' Thomas said.

On Sunday, the Broncos (10-3) will go for their NFL record-tying 12th straight divisional road win when they visit the San Diego Chargers (8-5).

Since the merger, the San Francisco 49ers from 1987-90 are the only ones who have won 12 in a row away from home in their division.

''That's huge,'' cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said. ''I didn't even know that.''

For good reason: coach John Fox, whose Carolina Panthers won 10 consecutive divisional road games from 2004-07, has his team dialed in on Philip Rivers, not any records.

''We're still in our journey and right now all our focus is on the San Diego Chargers,'' Fox said. ''What that brings is kind of what it brings.''

A victory Sunday would bring the Broncos their fourth straight AFC West title and also keep the heat on the New England Patriots for home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders admitted he's not just focused on the Chargers but also on the Patriots.

''I would be lying to you guys to say, `Yeah, we're only worried about ourselves right now,' which we are. But obviously we want home-field advantage and I know the whole league is watching it also,'' Sanders said.

What makes the Broncos' streak noteworthy is that it's encompassed both the offense run by Tebow in 2011 and the one engineered by Peyton Manning since 2012.

OK, the Raiders haven't had a winning record since 2002. But the Chargers and Chiefs crashed the playoff party last year as wild cards and both are in the postseason hunt again.

''Our division's always tough every year,'' Harris said. ''It's getting better, too. With Derek Carr, the Raiders are only going to get better.''

The Broncos are hoping to get two sidelined playmakers back for Sunday's showdown. Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who's had two separate left leg fractures, is eligible to return from IR, and tight end Julius Thomas said he's optimistic he'll return from a sprained left ankle that's kept him out almost a month.

Without the matchup nightmare that Thomas presents for defenses, Manning has been a mere mortal as the Broncos focused on getting their ground game going. They went from passing the ball 64 percent of the time through the first 10 games to throwing it only 45 percent over the last three weeks.

Manning's touchdown streak ended at 51 games last weekend, leading football fans and fantasy owners to worry that age is catching up to the 38-year-old QB.

''It's comical to me,'' offensive coordinator Adam Gase said. ''We heard the same thing about (Tom) Brady (in September) and he's been ripping the league apart since then. You never doubt players of this caliber, I know that. I'm pretty sure every defensive coordinator is not thinking that.''

Notes: Sanders was blasted on back-to-back plays Sunday by Bills safeties Duke Williams and Aaron Williams, who went for the big hit rather than the ball. Sanders said one of them - he thinks it was Aaron Williams - even admitted to him that they were trying to knock him from the game. ''But that's not that big of a deal, I hear it all the time,'' Sanders said, adding, ''I enjoy it on Sundays but during the week it's kind of painful.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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