Happy Monday, friends. Since tomorrow is Christmas, and I'll be busy celebrating the birth of the homie Jesus (or something), I've been slaving over a hot Game Rewind so I can break you off a little something for today. In honor of the Broncos retaking the NFL lead in team sacks, I decided to look at each one of their six from yesterday, to see what we can glean from them.
Interestingly, all six sacks occurred in the second half, and in general, there's a reason for that. When teams get down multiple scores in the second halves of games, they tend to forget about running the ball. That allows the defense to simply play the pass, and guys who would normally read run-to-pass are able to focus on either coverage or blitzing. Tactically, the stuff the Broncos did Sunday isn't seen too much outside of third-and-long, when the Broncos don't have a big lead. Let's look at those tactics to gain understanding of how each sack worked.
After the jump, we'll get screenshot-happy. Ready.... BEGIN!!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! For most of the season, Houston (12-3) has sported the best record in the AFC. Only three weeks ago, they were 11-1 and appeared to have an ironclad grip on the conference's top seed, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
But with their stunningly futile 23-6 home loss to Minnesota (9-6), the Texans have now dropped two of three, and fallen into a tie with YOUR Denver Broncos (12-3), who strolled past the Browns (5-10) in a 34-12 cinch of a win, their tenth consecutive victory (Gamebook, ANS box score).
Of course, Kubes & Co. own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Broncos, thanks to their Week 3 win at SAF@MH. Therefore, Denver will need the host Colts to knock off the Texans next week, and then take care of their own business at home against the Chiefs, in order to snatch away the number-one seed.
Santa Claus is real. I don't care what your parents told you.
How do I know?
Because I heard him on the roof, dropping gifts down your orange-and-blue chimney.
The first gift? A ten-game winning streak.
The second? A quarterback more accurate than Santa's naughty/nice list.
Well, that came from Santa's little helpers, the Minnesota Vikings. Because of their win, the Broncos just might get the #1 seed.
Enjoy the games, and Go Broncos, Vikings, and Jaguars!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been highly critical of John Elway & Co. for having made the strong-legged but inaccurate Matt Prater one of the league's highest paid kickers this season.
After using their franchise tag to retain the restricted free agent last off-season, Denver gave the sixth-year kicker $4.25M in guarantees as part of a four-year, $13M deal. Those guarantees amount to his 2012 compensation, and he's due salaries of $2.5M, $3M, and $3.25M over the next three seasons.
Has Prater lived up to the tag, or the contract? So far, he absolutely has not.
At 23/29 (79.3%) on the season, the UCF alum ranks 26th out of 31 kickers who have attempted at least 15 field goals.
Sam Monson previews the matchup. Enjoy the game!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver has gone four weeks without having lost a fumble. In most years, this probably wouldn't be particularly notable.
But in the case of these 2012 Broncos, it's quite a turnaround, given that they had lost at least one fumble in nine of their first ten games, for a total of 13 lost fumbles out of 16. As we had shown after nine games, much of this was a matter of luck, but the team's improved fortunes have not solely been about not losing fumbles - they've also been putting the ball on the ground much less often.
After those 16 fumbles in 10 games, Denver has just three fumbles in its past four games - a poor snap by Dan Koppen against Tampa Bay, a muffed punt by Trindon Holliday at Oakland, and a Holliday fumble on a kickoff last week. The former two were recovered by Denver, while the latter went out of bounds and stayed with the Broncos.
Rockin' around the Christmas tree, at the Christmas party slop.
I love the myth of the free market and the bootstrapping entrepreneur. Without it, our business schools wouldn't continue to surge with wide-eyed future (and underemployed) alumni donors. I also love it because the narrative is so simple. It's black and white, really--I did everything, all by myself. Despite the lessons from behavioral economics and history, the narrative's insistence on oversimplifying complex issues into laissez-faire dogma provides for some great comedic context.
Enter the humor of Bills owner Ralph Wilson. In 2011, Wilson gave an interview in which he gave this tidy little homespun answer to a question about how much he profits from his ownership of the Buffalo Bills:
I came into this game 50 years ago because I enjoyed the game of pro football. Not to make money. In those days, everybody was hoping to break even. We lost money for a number of years. I am really not into the game to make money, but I would like to break even or make a little.
Broncos starting right guard Chris Kuper again missed practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Cleveland; it would be the third consecutive game he's missed due to injury, and the ninth in total.
According to John Fox, Kuper continues to be hindered by scar tissue in his surgically-repaired ankle, and is also dealing with migraine problems. Manny Ramirez will again start in his place; Peyton Manning has taken just two sacks with Kuper in the lineup, but 19 with Ramirez starting.
Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Hey, so we're still all here, right?
In lieu of a full STDL column, let's take a quick look at the advanced metrics and where the Broncos and Browns stand:
Denver remains atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings (third on offense, second on defense), with an 81% probability of beating the Browns and an 86% chance of gaining a first-round bye. Cleveland is 23rd in overall efficiency (25th on offense, 13th on defense).
PFR's Simple Rating System ranks Denver fourth overall (offense second, defense fifth), and Cleveland 25th (28th, 17th (tie)).
The Broncos remain second to the Niners in PFF's grading, but they narrowed the gap a good deal last week. Denver grades out at third on offense, and first on defense, while Cleveland ranks 23rd on offense, 11th on defense, and 17th overall.