Open Thread: Broncos @ Raiders, plus Norv & A.J. on their way out

Denver's inactives are RG Chris Kuper, LB Wesley Woodyard, CB Tracy Porter, TE Julius Thomas, FB Jacob Hester, DT Sealver Siliga, and QB Caleb Hanie. Manny Ramirez and D.J. Williams figure to start in place of Kuper and Woodyard, respectively, with C.J. Davis as Ramirez's backup.

Brandon Stokley, who had been a game-time decision, will dress - as will Andre Caldwell and Matthew Willis - so Denver will have five wideouts suited up, even while the punditry suggested the Broncos would focus on a run-heavy approach tonight. Tracy Porter, who did not appear on the week's injury report, is a healthy scratch.

Not dressing for Oakland are DE Jack Crawford, DT Richard Seymour, RB Jeremy Stewart, WR Derek Hagan, T Willie Smith, OL Lucas Nix, and RB/FB Jamize Olawale.

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STDL: Broncos checking off goals by the week

Division title? Check.

Home playoff game? Got that.

First-round bye? That's what remains for the Broncos as far as regular-season ambitions go. Home field throughout would be a nice bonus, but it's an outside possibility at this point, and of course, going undefeated within the AFCW would also be nice.

Denver can get another step closer to attaining those goals tonight at Oakland, with what would be their eighth consecutive win, on a short turnaround for both teams.

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PMFM so good it’s like he’s cheating Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Wesley Woodyard was listed as doubtful on Denver's last injury report for the week, but he did not travel to Oakland, and will not play tonight.

Brandon Stokley, who was limited in practice yesterday, says he's getting better, but will test his ailing hip tonight and be a game-time decision.

For Oakland, PR/CB Phillip Adams was cleared after having suffered a concussion against Cleveland; if he's unable to go, struggling WR Denarius Moore would return punts in his stead.

Safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell had been cleared from their concussions a day earlier, and both are expected to play; Dennis Allen returned to the team yesterday morning and oversaw practice.

Meanwhile, the Raiders issued a scathing statement as a denial of Hub Arkush's report that they were talking with Jon Gruden about a return to coaching.

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Injury Report: Woodyard doubtful; Seymour out

LB Wesley Woodyard is listed as doubtful for tomorrow's game at Oakland, and is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by D.J. Williams. WR Brandon Stokley is questionable, while five other Broncos are probable.

Woodyard suffered an ankle sprain last week, which forced Williams and Danny Trevathan (21 snaps each) into increased action. The absence of Stokley resulted in more targets for Jacob Tamme, who caught a season-high nine passes against Tampa Bay.

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You Got Served: Get ready for the return of head coach Josh McDaniels

Happy Wednesday, friends.  Yesterday, a decent brouhaha erupted in my former stomping grounds of Cleveland, Ohio.  It’s pretty widely assumed that, with the change in ownership, head coach Pat Shurmur and general manager Tom Heckert will be let go at season’s end.

New owners like to do their own thing, and when Jimmy Haslam hired Joe Banner to be team president, he brought in a guy who is going to certainly change the structure of the organization.

Banner was very successful in Philadelphia as the guy who ran the business end of things, and who oversaw contracts, financial, and cap strategy.  I would expect that will be his role in Cleveland as well, and I'm interested to see how he comes out on Shurmur and Heckert, both of whom he knew from Philadelphia.  If the Philly rumor mill is to be believed, the organization wasn't all that sad to see Heckert leave for Cleveland when he did, and that would seem to match the color of the smoke that's now coming out of the chimney.

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Raiders Week not quite the same Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Raiders Week has something of a different feel this time around, at least to us.

For one, the time between games is only half what it normally is - so there's hardly time to get frothed up about the classic rivalry. And of course, it's also softened by the Raiders not being a very good team.

But there's also the matter of feeling sympathy on multiple levels for Oakland's head coach.

Dennis Allen was Denver's DC for only a season, but the job he did in helping turn the Broncos defense around, his intelligence, and well-spokenness all combine to make us root for the man on some level, even if he's leading the Silver and Black.

Sadly, Dennis lost his 66-year-old father Grady this week, and for that, our thoughts go out to him and his family. Of course, John Fox and Champ Bailey offered the same on the part of the Broncos.

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Broncos’ 2013 opponents nearly set

Week 13 saw three teams (Denver, New England, Atlanta) clinch their divisions, with Houston also sealing a playoff spot.

This marks the earliest point at which any NFL season has seen either three division races end, or four playoff tickets punched, and two of them happened concurrently - as soon as Greg Schiano was done fanning his tail feathers (the Tampa Bay loss clinched the NFCS for Atlanta).

That the Broncos and Pats clinched their divisions ensures that Manning/Brady 14 (or 15, if they meet in this year's playoffs) will take place next season at Foxboro, barring injury or retirement for either.

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Ex-boy band stars not welcome at Qualcomm Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we are, two days after the team nailed down a big win and the AFCW title, and they have to head out on the road and play again in two days from now.

Welcome to the NFL in 2012.

It's a brutal request of these players, to put their bodies through the punishment of two regular-season games within the span of five days. Two games in seven or eight days is difficult enough - to recover from the first game's physical and emotional toll, to prepare for the coming matchup, to travel, and suit up again. For his part, John Fox says he won't be putting his guys in full pads this week.

But at least it's the Raiders, and the bright side is the Broncos will afterward have ten days to heal and get ready for the biggest matchup left on their schedule - a road trip to Baltimore and a fight for what is likely at best the AFC's #2 seed.

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Open Thread: MNF Week 13 - Giants @ Washington

Andy BenoitDoug Farrar, Sam Monson, and Benjamin Hoffman preview the matchup; here are the inactive lists. Enjoy the game!

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Cracking the Zombie code

I love freedom.  I’m not going to cry about it like Glenn Beck, but I am feeling a little verklempt today, after reading a breathtakingly stupid comment on TJ’s Tebow post, and it has stirred up my patriotism for American freedom.  I know what some of you right-wingers are thinking – liberals don’t like freedom, and they aren’t patriotic.

You’re free to believe that stupidity if you want to.  (I’d like to see you serve four years in the military.)  The commenter on TJ’s post is free to call us religious bigots if (s)he wants to.  If (s)he’d gone further over the line, we’d feel free to delete their comment and ban them.  Freedom is a good thing; nobody is going to throw any of us in jail for doing any of those things.

This is not going to be much about football.  I’m free to write an article about another topic, and you’re free not to like it.  Incidentally, I couldn’t care less whether you do or don’t, so spare me the whining about it.

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