Fat Pickins (and Probability) - Week 9

The picks may come and go, but the Tim Tebow story remains.

Tebow and the Broncos have about a 33% chance of winning today.

That's a whole heck of a lot higher than anyone in the Black Hole being sober by gametime.

Enjoy the game, and if you happen to be a Broncos fan attending the game today in Oakland, wear your bulletproof Tebow jersey.

And watch out for grown men giving good drag queens a bad name.

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Fat Off the Bone: Week 9 - Making Joe Mays go side to side

When the Broncos played the Raiders in Week 1, the Raiders gashed the Broncos for 190 rushing yards.

There were a lot of flaws in the Broncos' defense.  The big plays, however, had a consistent theme.

Joe Mays couldn't make a play.

The Raiders' strategy was simple enough--stretch the edges of the defense and make Joe Mays play to his weakness.

Mays, as we all know, is a thumper.  Facing him heads up inside the hole is a losing proposition for anyone.

The Raiders haven't been into losing for awhile.  So they simply made Mays go side to side.

Let's take a look at a few examples.

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The Daily Lard 11-5-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! You know how John Fox never says anything at all when he speaks? Well, either this Tebow thing is starting to really get to him, or Sam Farmer of the LA Times has some embarrassing photos of Fox - because the coach was pretty blunt in responding to the recent criticism of Denver's game plans and playcalling (emphasis mine):

As a coach or decision-maker in an NFL building, you don't care what round they're drafted in, you don't care who drafted them. You don't care if they're short, fat, whatever. You just care: Can they play? So all that other stuff is poppycock. The problem is, there's so much misinformation. For people that study it, you'd see that we've probably had more shotgun or spread offense than anybody in the league over the last two weeks. We're up 30% of what we were in the first four games. The goofy thing is, it's almost like if he doesn't have success it will be anybody's fault but his. It's almost that kind of polarizing thing. They'll say it could be his supporting cast, or the type of plays. At the end of the day, we are what we are. We're doing everything we can to win, and we're finding out about a young quarterback, good, bad or indifferent.

Sounds like a coach who's pretty much fed up, perhaps even one who didn't actually want to play Tebow - because wouldn't he be speaking in a more protective manner than he does here, especially after just two weeks with Tebow at QB? Here's Doug Farrar's reaction to these same statements.

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Digesting the Raiders

Happy Friday, friends.  Today, since the Broncos have already played the Raiders this season, we’re going to leverage the article I wrote before that game, and I’ll focus on where things have changed between then and now.  Then, we’ll talk about how the Broncos can work toward a better outcome this time than the 23-20 opening night loss they took at home.

We all hate the Raiders, and they hate us too, but it seems that they’ve built the sort of team that has been giving the Broncos trouble over the last couple seasons.  They’re big, physical and fast, and those are three good things to be as a football team. Luckily, they're still the Raiders, and they still make dumb trades, so we have that going for us.

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The Daily Lard 11-4-11

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Chris Benson previews Sunday's matchup in Oakland for PFF, and he writes that it's something of a must-win for both teams, as the loser will surely be faced with big questions about its QB in the aftermath. Will Denver stick with Tim Tebow if he doesn't show progress? Did the Raiders overpay for Carson Palmer? Benson also speculates that a loss for Denver could mean a shakeup in the starting lineup, and it's a fair point.

Benson says Oakland's fans likely won't be long on patience for their new QB given the ransom they gave up to acquire him, although he figures Palmer should do well against a pass defense that has struggled for almost the whole season. Unfortunately, Sunday has the potential to be another brutal day for Orlando Franklin, whose assignment will be to fend off yet another top pass rusher - this time LB Kamerion Wimbley, whom he was not able to contain in the opener (six hurries).

Finally, Benson theorizes that the reason for Tebow's success as a starter last year and apparent regression this season is partly a matter of opposing teams having a better idea of how to game plan him - playing him less like a passing threat and focusing more upon keeping him in the pocket. So, can the Broncos manage to run the ball efficiently if they're facing 8 or 9 men in the box? Will Tebow be able to make some throws against man coverage and soften up the Oakland defense? If not, it will be another long Sunday...

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STDL: Week 9 - Broncos at Raiders

Welcome to the Al Davis Memorial Edition of the Stats That Don't Lie. Being that this Sunday will mark the first matchup between the Broncos and their fiercest rivals* since the passing of The Crypt Keeper, I thought it appropriate to honor some of Big Al's finest personnel moves with today's STDL.

As for the game, this is not much of a rematch from the MNF opener, as both teams have new QBs (neither of whom has played as well as the guy they replaced, although it's early) and the Raiders will likely be without their best offensive player, RB Darren McFadden. DMC has 510 yards from scrimmage in the teams' last three matchups, helping turn both 2010 meetings into blowouts. Hopefully the absence of McFadden and the newness of Carson Palmer to Oakland helps narrow the gap between these two teams:

* If you think it's the Chargers, ask your dad or older brother

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Defending Tebow (just a little)

I find myself in a strange place today. I'm going to speak in defense of Tim Tebow.

It's an interesting time in Broncos history. I can't remember a time when a Broncos player--in a matter of one week--has gone from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. Tim Tebow was a polarizing figure to begin with, but his performance against the Lions last week seemed to give every Tebow critic the opportunity to jump into the arena.

As an OG of Tebow critics, my personal space was being violated. Every analyst in the entire world, outside of Mike Lombardi, said Tebow regressed from the week before in Miami. John Elway's assessment was only slightly better. He said Tebow simply hadn't improved.

It was suddenly safe to come out of the closet; declaring oneself openly anti-Tebow was cool.

The worst of these criticisms went something like this: Tim Tebow is the dumbest quarterback in the league and reads a defense like a high-school quarterback.

This sort of criticism seems particularly brutal; it strikes me as piling on.  I also believe it's wrong.

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The Daily Lard 11-3-11

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Quinton Carter, Virgil Green and Cassius Vaughn did not practice yesterday, while Willis McGahee and Orlando Franklin were limited. John Fox says McGahee will only play Sunday if he's able to use both of his hands effectively.

Out in Oakland, RB Darren McFadden is still on crutches and in a walking boot, so don't expect him to play Sunday; rather, Denver can figure upon seeing a steady diet of Michael Bush, a RB many Broncos fans had hoped the team would acquire via FA. Also not practicing were LB Rolando McClain, K Sebastian Janikowski, and CBs Chris Johnson and Chimdi Chekwa. Janikowski is expected to play, and his replacement against KC, Dave Rayner, is no longer on the team's roster.

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Tebow hatred spawns comedy gold

Tebowing was fun for about zero five minutes. There's a new, more creative and at all more entertaining Tebow meme, and it's taking place over at ESPN.com in the comments section of Bill Williamson's post-Tebow column from Sunday night. You see, the media lovefest for Tebow was bound to create a massive backlash, and here it is, in the form of the equation X > Tebow, where X = wherever your funny bone wants to take it. (h/t Deadspin) A few gems:

Gigli > Tebow
sharting > Tebow
Leonard Nimoy's scrotum > Tebow
planking > Tebow

Fattening Up on Chris Kuper

Nothing like getting millions of viewers sure that your roster is thinner than Karen Carpenter, is there? That was a full team effort on Sunday - nearly everyone played a role in how badly it went. That said, let’s start with a fun fact or two:

Going into the game against the Lions, none of Denver’s TEs had dropped a pass so far this year. Daniel Fells had been targeted 18 times, but only 11 of those were considered catchable, and Fells had caught all 11. That’s being consistent:  Fells is looking more and more like a serious find. Add Julius Thomas’ pass catching to the mix (and keeping him healthy, although he had a drop against Detroit to break the TEs' streak) and you’ve got a very good starting two. Virgil Green has gone from a seventh-round afterthought to a key player late in the Miami game and may be that much needed third TE - I hope his injury isn’t severe, because he has been the better blocking TE. The TEs as a group have now caught 19 passes with just the one drop. That says a lot of good things about consistency and the talent of the squad. Denver has some good young talent, of which Fells in just his fourth season out of UC-Davis and Dante Rosario in his fifth year out of Oregon are the 'old men' of the group.

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