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.
Coming tonight: we're moving our comments over to Disqus.
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
Happy Monday, friends. Even after a loss on Sunday, the Broncos are in very strong shape to make the playoffs as either the AFC West champion or as a Wild Card. Winning games in your division is of major importance, but winning ones in your conference ends up being very helpful to tiebreakers, as well. Let's examine the various paths the Broncos have into the postseason. The Broncos have earned their strong position by winning in the division, and by beating teams like Cincinnati and the Jets within the conference.
You can test these and other scenarios using ESPN's Playoff Machine, which is pretty cool.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, the magic came early and did not linger, as the Patriots thumped the mistake-prone Broncos 41-23 after Denver had jumped out to a 13-7 lead. On their first two possessions, the Broncos racked up 162 yards on 13 plays (11 runs, two passes) and it looked like Denver actually had a chance to blow the doors off New England early. But on their third possession, John Fox curiously chose (again) to kick a FG on fourth-and-one from the New England eight-yard line despite the dominance of the Broncos' running game. One could never deem the explosive Pats to be against the ropes, but another TD there would have been quite a blow.
Denver's momentum was gone, the Pats went 80 yards to get within two points, and then the Broncos put the ball on the ground three times (Lance Ball, Tim Tebow, Quan Cosby) in a span of 8.5 minutes, leading directly to 13 New England points. Starting with that third Patriots possession, New England outscored Denver by a score of 34-7 the rest of the way.
All winning streaks must come to an end.
We knew it wouldn't go on foreover. There's no shame in losing to a team like the Patriots.
Perhaps it's a blessing in disguise; this loss might just kick the Broncos back into reality.
They've got a little work to do. This season is ultimately about running, tackling, and not turning the ball over.
Let's hope the Broncos stop ignoring all of the press they've been getting the last six weeks; let's hope they cast aside terms like magic, destiny, and miracle; let's hope they replace them with some better form tackling and ball control.
It will probably take them further into the playoffs.
Enjoy the games, everyone! Here are the day's inactives.
The Broncos will be without Brian Dawkins, David Bruton, Mike Mohamed, Manny Ramirez, Tony Hills, Julius Thomas, and Derrick Harvey. New England's inactives are Patrick Chung, Shane Vereen, Brandon Spikes, Sebastian Vollmer, Deion Branch, Ryan Mallett and Nick McDonald.
According to Mike Klis, rookies Rahim Moore and Quinton Carter will start at safety for Denver. Uh oh.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! Unfortunately, it appears Denver's re-signing of Kyle McCarthy was prompted by the injury to Brian Dawkins, who sat out yesterday's walkthrough and is unlikely to play today, as is backup safety and special-teams ace David Bruton. Obviously, this could create a major problem for Denver's pass defense, especially as they face the triple threat of covering Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker. Did I say earlier today this game was going to be close?
The probabilities give the Broncos a 35.14% chance of winning today.
Enjoy the games, everyone.
Interesting matchup today, right? Have you ever seen so much talk about a regular-season game featuring an eight-point spread (the third-biggest one behind Packers/Chiefs and Saints/Vikings)? It's pretty bizarre, but that's the power of Tim Tebow. He's all anyone ever wants to talk or read about (just ask Skip Bayless about his show's ratings), except of course for when the author/commentator's viewpoint doesn't match that of the readers/viewers/listeners.
This is the animal we're dealing with. Anyway, big betting line or not, this is an exciting day to be a Broncos fan, because we get to see how our team measures up against NFL royalty (if not the far-from-perfect class of the conference). Let's see how the two teams match up.