RIP, Jeff Lewis Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! In just a few hours' time, we'll be learning which subpar playoff team (between Indianapolis and Baltimore) will be visiting the rarified air on Saturday afternoon to take on your top-seeded Broncos.

By edging the middling Bengals and their scattershot quarterback (who Mike Klis pronounced earlier in the year would meet Cam Newton "in a future SB or three") by a 19-13 margin, the Texans earned a return trip to New England and a chance to avenge the 42-14 thrashing they suffered there four weeks ago.

Houston will need to bring with them the defense that showed up last night, and find the confident Matt Schaub who threw 21 touchdowns in the first 12 games of the season - not the milquetoast one who's thrown just one in the past five.

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Open Thread: Wild Card Saturday

Following Houston's win, they'll head to New England to face the Patriots on Sunday afternoon; the Broncos will host the winner of Colts/Ravens on Saturday.

Christian Ponder's elbow injury will prevent him from suiting up tonight for Minnesota; Joe Webb will start in his place. Here are the rest of the inactives.

Enjoy the games!

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Broncos favorites to win Super Bowl 47

The people who put their money where their mouths are have spoken: going into Wild Card Weekend, the Denver Broncos are the favorites to win Super Bowl 47.

It might be easy to dismiss betting lines as something conjured up by Vegas (or whomever), but to guarantee a win for a game, the sportsbooks need to get a 50/50 split in bets, letting the house take in the even split plus the vig. That means the odds shift as people bet, accurately reflecting popular (gambler) opinion. When it comes to the Super Bowl, the pool of gamblers is large and easily reflects popular opinion.

Futures don't shift exactly the same way (there's no 50/50), but they do shift as bets are placed and news (namely wins and injuries) happen.

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McGahee on track for return Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Although Chip Kelly is likely to become the next coach of the Browns, he still met with the Bills last night and will interview with the Eagles today.

It was a busy day for Buffalo's front office, who also interviewed former Bears coach Lovie Smith and Doug Marrone of Syracuse, and will interview Broncos OC Mike McCoy today in the Denver area.

With Kelly probably ending up in Cleveland, Philly has expanded its search to include Colts OC Bruce Arians and Seahawks DC Gus Bradley; they'll meet with McCoy tomorrow.

Arizona, the other team McCoy will sit down with today, is apparently still waiting to hear whether Handshake Haley will take their interview request, as he reportedly doesn't want to jeopardize his standing Pittsburgh.

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Browns nearing deal with Chip Kelly

The Browns are expected to hire Oregon's Chip Kelly as their new head coach; he'll be replacing Pat Shurmur, who may be joining Andy Reid's new staff in Kansas City.

Kelly's Ducks defeated Kansas State Thursday night 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl.

The 49-year-old had also been a candidate for the Buffalo and Philadelphia jobs, both of which Denver's Mike McCoy will interviewing for this weekend. McCoy is scheduled to meet with the Cards and Bills tomorrow, and the Eagles and Bears on Sunday.

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The real reason Bill O’Brien is staying at Penn State

Earlier today, Doug lauded Bill O'Brien's stated dedication to all that is good and right about college athletics, apple pie, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but me, being me, I'm going to have to take a moment to suggest that it had a wee bit to do with his $18.4 million buyout with Penn State.

You see, even if some crazy owner wanted to pay that buyout on O'Brien's behalf (which would be absolutely insane), the story wouldn't be over.  Since they'd be paying O'Brien's debt to Penn State, that would be ordinary income for him, and he'd have tax liability for it, even though it passed through his bank account instantaneously (if at all).

If somebody pays you $18.4 million, and you never see a dollar of that in cash, it gets to be hard to come up with the $7.3 million (39.6%) you'll owe Uncle Sam.  Of course, last week/year, the bill only would have been $6.4 million (35%).  So fans who really wanted O'Brien can blame Barack Obama if they want.  In any case, there's no way O'Brien could even pay the tax on the buyout, even if a team was willing to drop all that cash, which is extremely unlikely.

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New/old meme: Peyton Manning “hasn’t been great in the playoffs”

Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco among top playoff QBs

Manning’s terrific, and it’s hard to bet against him, but he just hasn’t been great in the playoffs, that one Super Bowl win notwithstanding. I don’t know the reason for that; maybe part of it is that he feasts on lesser teams during the regular season.

Oh, Gil. So much is wrong with this:

  1. That "one SB" that Brandt cites was just the twelfth best of Peyton's playoff career, whether by QB rating or AY/A. Incidentally, when the Colts won their title, Peyton had one of his worst postseasons, throwing three touchdowns against seven picks.
  2. Did you know Peyton's QB rating in the playoffs (88.4) is better than Tom Brady's (87.8)? Neither did I, and it's likely safe to say Gil doesn't either.
  3. It's true that Manning struggled early in his playoff career. But those problems are ancient history, and should no longer be the definition of him as a postseason player.

Gut Reaction: Chiefs hire Andy Reid

Happy Friday, friends.  I have some thoughts about the hiring of Andy Reid by the Kansas City Chiefs.  The more I think about it, the more deeply ambivalent I become about the move.  It affects us directly as Broncos fans, though, so let’s give it a think.

First off, the talent pool in Kansas City is atrocious, and it’s poorly fitted to the kinds of schematic approaches that Reid has historically favored.  

In terms of the offensive skill positions, the only players that Kansas City can even consider to be real keepers are Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki, and Moeaki is overrated.  Dexter McCluster is a useful guy as a matchup problem, and he’ll be in his last year of his rookie deal.  Jonathan Baldwin looks like a giant bust, not that I am surprised.

The Chiefs have no QB and no speed at WR, and Reid likes to go deep with speed guys as much as any coach in the NFL.  There are a few guys with some promise on the offensive line, but as a group, today, they’re not good.  If Juan Castillo becomes the OL coach, I see a couple of them (Rodney Hudson, Donald Stephenson) not being great scheme fits, because Castillo has tended to favor larger players, and asked them to do a lot more drive blocking than zone blocking.

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Happy Anniversary, John Elway

h/t Matt Connolly

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Chiefs dump Pioli

Chiefs, Pioli Part Ways

The Kansas City Chiefs announced on Friday that the club and General Manager Scott Pioli have mutually agreed to part ways.

“After several productive conversations, we made the difficult decision to part ways with Scott Pioli and allow him to pursue other opportunities,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. “Scott has been an invaluable member of the Chiefs family since joining us in 2009, and we sincerely appreciate his tremendous contributions over the last four years.

Invaluable? More like unvaluable, amirite?

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