ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Every coach in the NFL knows at least once a season he will have to sell the idea that a game on a Thursday night isn't so bad after all.
And when it involves teams like the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts who have already seen their playoff hopes shattered into small pieces, that idea can be even a little more difficult to present. But give Vance Joseph and Chuck Pagano a nod for effort this week as the 4-9 Broncos and 3-10 Colts prepare for Thursday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“We signed up for 16 of these, right?" said Pagano, whose team has lost seven of its last eight games. “This is what professionals do. It’s about the name on the back of your jersey, the decal on the side of your helmet, about pride."
The Broncos have had a long run just to reach this point. Their Week 5 bye was among the earliest in the league, so they have had to plow through a nine-game stretch -- eight of those losses -- before reaching the short week.
“It’s been a long grind. We had an early bye," Broncos running back C.J. Anderson said. “But we look at it like we can do what we can to get right and we are coming off a win."
The Broncos’ 23-0 victory over the New York Jets, the win that enabled them to snap the franchise’s longest losing streak since 1967, didn’t come in time to save their playoff dreams. But it did help them this week to move through their abbreviated work schedule.
Joseph has reinforced his message of the potential for the Broncos to get two wins in five days and a shot at two consecutive wins for the first time since a 2-0 start to this troubled season.
“I’m OK with (Thursday night games)," Joseph said. “It’s a league deal; we all have to do it. We embrace it. For our football team, it’s a chance to win two games in five days. I get the players, they’re sore … In my opinion it’s an extra bye week; once you win the football game, you have Friday, Saturday, Sunday to recover."
Added Broncos defensive lineman Zach Kerr: “I think we’ve got everything set up to be successful. You know it’s there, you know it’s coming. But overall, I'm not a fan [of Thursday games]. But they pay the bills, but I'm not a fan of it."
In a season filled with struggles, some of the Broncos' biggest stumbles have come on the road. The Broncos are 0-6 in road games this season, and their last road win came over a calendar year ago -- Dec. 4, 2016 in Jacksonville, a 20-10 victory over the Jaguars.
Quarterback Trevor Siemian has had two three-interception games on the road this season. The Broncos' first shutout loss in a quarter century came on the road, and the Broncos have lost by at least 10 points in five of their six road games.
“I think we all just feel like a win just gets that feeling back that if we can play a clean game, we can get wins," linebacker Brandon Marshall said. “It’s hard to get your body ready to play a few days after a game and I don’t think it’s the best thing, but after you’ve gone as long as we have without a win and then you get one, you want to get back out there and try to put something together."
Joseph echoed that sentiment.
“We’re going to embrace this. Winning is important, winning is habit and we’re trying to win football games, first and foremost, no matter what day we play. We want to get wins."