The Daily Lard 12-22-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Interesting post yesterday from Brian Burke on the silly reliance upon gross rushing yards to measure a running back's effectiveness. Funny thing is, he's not just talking about fans here - Burke is studying salaries and how players are valued by the NFL. Running backs apparently get paid for their rushing yards rather than their total contributions to their teams, which is how guys like DeAngelo Williams get $21M in guarantees to comprise just one half of a RB tandem. Burke's best line is his clincher:

"Football people" want to tell you that they ignore stats and just look at the game. They want us to believe they have a near mystical sense of how to recognize good play. The fact is they do rely on stats, just the wrong ones.

Remember this next time you hear/read someone say how much they hate stats and then later cite some as proof of a player's worth. "I hate stats" usually translates to "I hate advanced (or rate) stats that I haven't taken the time to understand, and instead I prefer the traditional ones I've heard about my whole life."

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The Daily Lard 12-21-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Don Banks is loving the storylines of the AFC West right now, and who can blame him? There sure is a lot of wackiness going on here, and there could be no more interesting regular season finale than Tim Tebow versus Kyle Orton for the division title. And as Banks highlights, the Chargers are the only team in the division whose W-L record underachieves their point differential.

In fact, if the teams' records matched what would be expected from their point differentials (Pythagorean Wins or PW), San Diego would be the lone 8-6 team, Denver and Oakland would each be two games back at 6-8, and Kansas City would be 3-11 rather than the 6-8 mark they currently sport (You can see PW on each team profile over at PFR as "Expected W-L"). Sure, it's the actual games that really count and ultimately a team is judged by its record. But as we've seen over a zillion times, your team isn't really that good until it posts some decisive (on the scoreboard) victories.

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Chewing the Fat: Week 15 - Broncos vs Patriots

The IAOFM staff discuss the Denver Broncos' 41-23 Week 15 loss to the New England Patriots

Ted: Happy Weird Football Sunday, gents

Doug: Hey, the band's back together! Good to see you Doc

Ted: Howdy Em

Doc: Hey, Ted, Doug. Great to be back! And, Weird is right!

Ted: The Packers insisted on attacking KC's strength all day, rather than hitting their weakness.  They might have gotten away with it, if not for bad drops and penalties. Plus, the Packers defense was bad all day. Except for the red zone

Doug: Maybe they just believe in Kyle Orton

Ted: Could be.  I'd damn sure believe in him more than Tyler Palko

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The Daily Lard 12-20-11

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.

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New commenting and a membership tweak

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

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Open Thread - MNF Week 15

Enjoy the game, everyone! Mike Tanier, Matt Bowen and Joe Fortenbaugh analyzes the matchup.

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Playoffs?!?! The Broncos have several ways in

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.

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The Daily Lard 12-19-11

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.

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Gut Reaction: Week 15 - Broncos vs Patriots

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.

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Open Thread - Sunday Week 15

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.

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