December 29, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Denver Broncos head coach John Fox (left) talks to quarterback Peyton Manning (18) during the fourth quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 34-14. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
KUSA - Getting ready for a playoff game is never easy, even when you've faced your opponent 108 times.
The Denver Broncos returned to the practice field Wednesday installing their game plan for Sunday's game against the San Diego Chargers at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Even though the AFC West foes have played more than 100 regular-season games, Sunday's matchup will be their first time squaring off in the playoffs.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only other current divisional series that has more regular-season games without meeting in the postseason is Chicago-Detroit (125 regular-season games).
"They're playing with little more swagger and confidence," Broncos coach John Fox said Wednesday of the Chargers' defense. "They did a good job on us last time here."
The most recent Broncos-Chargers game is serving as motivation for the Broncos this week. San Diego won 27-20 on Dec. 20 in Denver. It came after the Broncos' 28-20 win at San Diego on Nov. 10.
What perhaps has helped the Chargers against Denver this season is coach Mike McCoy's knowledge of the Broncos. McCoy was Denver's offensive coordinator before getting hired by San Diego in the offseason.
"Certainly there is a lot of familiarity between both teams," Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said Wednesday. "There's a lot of knowledge between both teams. That kinds of evens out, and it comes down to who makes more plays on the field."
Manning is 3-1 in the past two seasons against the Chargers. Before that, San Diego had a four-game winning streak and had won nine-of-11 from 2006-11.
The Broncos won the AFC's top-seed for the seventh time and have been to the Super Bowl in four of the previous six seasons going in as No. 1 out of the AFC. They won the Super Bowl in 1998, but lost in 1977, '87 and '89.
Finding his inner Dorothy, Fox said being at home is great, but it doesn't guarantee anything in the playoffs.
"There's an old movie I saw - you guys might not have been alive - 'Wizard of Oz.' There's no place like home," Fox joked. "You sleep in your own bed; it's more comfortable. I think everybody would rather play at home, but you still have to play well."
The winner Sunday will play Jan. 19 in the AFC title game against the New England-Indianapolis winner. Should the Broncos advance, the conference championship game will be in Denver (1 p.m. kickoff).
Denver is 9-5 in the playoffs as the top seed, including last year's loss in the divisional round against Baltimore.
"I think we've used that throughout the season," Manning said of last year's playoff loss. "We talked about it in the month of April with our weightlifting and offseason training - using that to fuel you to do an extra set of sprints or an extra set of squats."
Manning is 9-11 in 12 postseasons with 32 touchdown passes and 21 interceptions. He said Wednesday getting to the playoffs is a privilege.
"There's nothing else I'd rather be doing than being in that opportunity," the 37-year-old Manning said. "Certainly the light is at end of tunnel for me, no question, so you enjoy these things a bit more than maybe you have in the past. ... I've always enjoyed it and felt fortunate to be in every opportunity."
Denver won its 13th AFC West title, and as the division champs in the playoffs, the Broncos are 14-10 with their only Super Bowl win coming in 1998.
The only player who did not practice Wednesday was Derek Wolfe (illness).
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