Open Thread: TNF Week 10 - Colts @ Jaguars

Bucky Brooks, Nathan JahnkeBrian McIntyre, and Benjamin Hoffman analyze the matchup; here are the inactives. Enjoy the game!

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STDL: Imperfect numbers continue to say Broncos are among NFL’s best

No matter their focus, whether on sports, politics, or anything else, statistical models have always been targets of intense criticism.

The number crunchers can test their methods all they want, and even show their work as they did for their high-school geometry midterms, yet ultimately, the old-schoolers will say there's no match for experience and intuition.

But by now, even those data-allergic folks have to admit the 2012 Broncos are pretty good, right?

With the squad sitting at 1-2 after three weeks, Brian Burke's data said the Broncos were the third-most efficient team in the league. Three games later, following the historic comeback in San Diego that evened Denver's record at 3-3, they had reached the top of Burke's rankings.

Updated 5:33pm ET

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Peyton Manning, reefer opportunist Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've been saying since before the season began that fullback Chris Gronkowski wouldn't be seeing many offensive snaps. Or at least, that he shouldn't be.

Not sure why Jeff Legwold & Co. believed otherwise, unless they were just willing to believe whatever sound bite John Fox and Mike McCoy provided them.

And now that Virgil Green is becoming more involved in the offense following his four-game suspension, he's taking some snaps at fullback. We'll disagree with Legwold's claim that Denver's large scoring deficits have been the reason for Gronk's limited play, especially since Chris has hardly played offense in the games when the Broncos didn't trail big, including Sunday.

The biggest factor is using the no-huddle offense and substituting less, which requires players be versatile pieces that can be moved around a formation. That's clearly not what Gronkowski is.

However, that doesn't mean Gronkowski has been a wasted acquisition; as Legwold notes, Gronkowski has been active in all eight of Denver's games, and is second on the team in number of special teams snaps to David Bruton.

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Revisiting the Manning offense

Happy Wednesday, friends.  Today, since we’re at the halfway point of the season, I want to revisit the series of articles I wrote in March and April about the Manning offense, and update them.  If they’re going to live on as strong reference material, they deserve an update. 

In advance, let me say that you shouldn’t take this as a victory lap, although I was right about a lot of stuff.  And don’t even get me started on how right I was about the results of the Presidential election.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

Here is a set of links to the whole series of articles:

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Broncos gain heaps of midseason props, FWIW Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! So much of the talk this season has been about Cam Newton's struggles.

But as several numbers-centric writers have noted recently, Cam's not been performing measurably worse in a lot of categories. Yes, he's passing and rushing for touchdowns at a lower rate this year, but that happens. His Y/A and NY/A numbers are actually better than they were in 2011, while his AY/A and ANY/A trail last year's figures by a tiny margin.

He even has a higher YPA on the ground than last year, albeit with fewer touchdowns and a lot more fumbles.

Point is, Cam Newton has not suddenly been figured out, nor turned into a crappy QB. He's still a serious threat, and five of his team's six losses have been by six points or less.

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Kuper injury not disastrous Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! As feared, a severe ankle sprain will keep right guard Chris Kuper out for as long as a month.

While the credit is not all his, the team's streak of three wins and three games without Peyton Manning having taken a sack, does coincide with the return of Kuper from the forearm injury he suffered during training camp. Denver also had (by far) its most productive game running the ball with Kuper, totaling 225 yards on the ground against New Orleans.

In 175 snaps played over three games, Kuper has graded out at an excellent +3.5; backup Manny Ramirez has a -2.4 grade in 387 snaps.

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Open Thread: MNF Week 9 - Eagles @ Saints

Here are the game's inactivesAndy Benoit, Doug Farrar, and Steve Palazzolo analyze the matchup; Drew Brees claims the ass-kicking delivered to New Orleans by the Broncos last week has served as a sort of wakeup call. Enjoy the game!

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No trap games with PMFM at helm Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The trap game. It's been a while since the Broncos were good enough to actually have one, but the memories are still painfully fresh.

There was the 2006 playoff-costing finale against San Francisco, the 2008 duds against Kansas City, Miami, and Buffalo, and any number of recent losses to Oakland.

But instead of laying an egg in Cincinnati yesterday, Denver overcame a few big mistakes and left town with a 31-23 victory (Gamebook, ANS box score) over the Bengals.

Of course, there are some whopping differences between those middling squads and the 2012 Broncos - namely, Peyton Manning and Von Miller.

With the demanding perfectionist Manning leading the way, it's hard to picture this team having a letdown. Sure, it can lose - but probably not for having overlooked an opponent.

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Gut Reaction: Week 9 - Broncos @ Bengals

Today's game was the sort of contest previous Broncos teams would have lost.

There they were--on the road, starting early, serving up two critical interceptions, and running the ball as sluggishly as they have all year.

Instead, they were ahead by two scores with a few minutes remaining.  I guess having Christopher Walken Peyton Manning at quarterback has something to do with it.

That's an effort you'd expect from a top-flight team and a division champion.

Perhaps a championship team?

We'll see.  Suffice to say, things are beginning to feel a lot different in Denver this year.

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Open Thread: Sunday Week 9

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