Good Morning, Broncos fans! The official playoff scenarios haven't been released by the league yet (that's supposed to happen today), but it appears a Denver win at Buffalo combined with an Oakland loss or tie at KC would clinch the AFC West for the Broncos. And according to Stuart Zaas, the Broncos can also clinch a wild card spot on Saturday by beating the Bills, plus losses or ties by the Titans, Jets and Bengals.
The Niners beat the Steelers 20-3 last night in a game delayed twice by a power outage, and Ben Roethlisberger turned it over four times (three picks, one fumble). Big Ben played with a brace on his high ankle sprain (on his left/plant leg) but was apparently not hobbled. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers play Roethlisberger the next two weeks, although presumably they will since they still have a shot at both the AFC North title, the #1 or #2 seed and a first-round bye. The loss for Pittsburgh keeps Baltimore ahead of them in the standings (by virtue of sweeping the Steelers earlier in the season) and increases the likelihood that the Broncos would end up hosting the Steelers in the Wild Card round, should Denver win the AFC West.
So, if Big Ben plays the next two games but Baltimore hangs on for the division title, the Broncos would likely be facing a more faithful but less mobile Roethlisberger in the playoffs. Hmm. Before we get carried away, let's get to the links.
Bill Belichick accurately predicted John Fox would chicken out
Belichick plays to his opponent like no other coach in the league. If he was facing a gambler like a Mike Smith or a Sean Payton, there’s no way Belichick leaves a potential fourth-and-1 conversion, and potential 20-7 lead, for the taking. Instead, he seemed to anticipate that Fox would cave, kick the field goal and get away with a nine-point lead. No guts, no glory. Following the field goal, New England scored the next 27 points, en route to an easy 41-23 victory.
I think all of us here at IAOFM have written about this before, most recently in the Gut Reaction from Sunday.
John Fox, we repeat: grow a pair.
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It means having an IAOFM membership is no longer required to post here. An account at any major site (or Disqus, which I'll recommend) will be necessary.
Why change? Features, features, features.
Update after the jump
Pats’ Brady takes some air out of Tebow mania
Not long after New England’s 41-23 victory over the Broncos, a triumph which clinched the AFC East title for the Pats (11-3) and put them on track for a first-round playoff bye, I entered the visitors’ locker room and encountered Brady as he headed for the showers. Securing a white towel around his waist with his right hand and holding a shaving kit with his left, the future Hall of Famer stopped cold when I asked if he’d sensed, after Tebow’s late touchdown, that the game might be slipping away.
“I’ve been in a lot of big games, Mikey,” he said, looking me directly in the eye. “Games a lot bigger than this.”
In addition to reminding everyone that he gets texted by pro athletes, Mike Silver really wants you to know he's tight with Tom Brady.
We get it, Mikey. You're kind of a big deal.
All four AFC West teams in contention for division title
“We’ve got better odds than we had in 2008,” Rivers told The San Diego Union-Tribune after Sunday night’s 34-14 smashing of the Baltimore Ravens. “We’ve got a chance.” But that hinges on winning at Detroit—where the Lions will be looking to claim their first playoff berth since 1999—and getting help from elsewhere.
Sorry, Phil, you can only roll the dice so many seasons in a row. This time, you're going down--and your little dog, Norv Turner, too!
Patriots-Broncos helps CBS earn second-best preliminary NFL rating since 1998
The highly anticipated matchup between Tom Brady and Tim Tebow helped draw the second-best preliminary television rating for a regular-season NFL game on CBS since the network acquired the AFC package in 1998.
The New England Patriots’ 41-23 win over the Denver Broncos led to a 19.5 overnight rating and 36 share for CBS’s NFL coverage Sunday. Only the Nov. 4, 2007, games highlighted by a meeting of two undefeated teams, the Patriots and Colts, had a higher rating in the last 14 seasons on the network with a 22.5/39.
As far as I could tell on Sunday, Tebow’s main power seems to be to make football announcers abandon their critical faculties. When they weren’t hyping Tebow’s mere presence, the CBS team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were making excuses for his poor throws and his team’s mediocre play, while minimizing New England’s dominance. “It didn’t come out of Tebow’s hand clean, but it doesn’t matter,” Simms said after Tebow’s first completion of the day. When the Patriots took the lead for good in the second quarter, Simms said, “We sit here and I feel like it’s been all Denver up to the point.” At that moment, New England had possessed the ball for all but 12 of the game’s previous 478 seconds. CBS later showed side-by-side video of Tebow and Brady throwing, and Simms told us we were looking at “the exact same thing,” by which he must have meant a man throwing a football. When he finally admitted that Tebow had made a poor throw, Simms excused it—and, by extension, every other Tebow errancy—by claiming that his misses are due to an overabundance of caution. On the very next play, Tebow must have been feeling extremely cautious. Nantz reminded us that he’d have an entire offseason to get better.
In Case You Were Wondering, Yes, Sarah Palin Is A Tim Tebow Fan
“I am so pro Tebow…you know he is unashamed of his savior, Jesus of Nazareth. He knows that Jesus is gonna rock your world when you give it all over to him.”
Really, we can't make this stuff up.
I'm glad Palin clarified that she was talking about the Jesus from Nazareth, and not Jesús of Vegas, who hooked me up with some sweet Ray-Bans last summer. He definitely rocked my world. Keep on rockin' in the free world, Jesús...to that crazy casbah sound.
10 Things We Learned: Upsetting Week 15 edition
But Tebow played a heck of a good game against the Patriots, and his performance should be extremely encouraging to Broncos fans and management.
He’s shown huge improvement in just a half-season of play, going from a quarterback who couldn’t be trusted to make the simplest throws to a guy who had more than a few nice tosses against a willing New England defense. Assuming he can turn about 10 percent of his throws from errant to on-the-mark, he’s going to be a good one.
The debate over what the Broncos want to do next year should be moot. They hired John Fox to bring toughness and running to the organization, and with Tebow they’re in extremely good position to do that. If your QB has six turnovers in nine starts, in his first real action? You stick with that guy, period.