It wasn't the result Denver hoped for, but there's a silver lining to New England's 23-14 win at San Diego on Sunday night.
The Patriots (10-3) remain ahead of Denver (10-3) in the race for the AFC's #1 seed thanks to their head-to-head tiebreaker. But the Broncos now have a two-game lead over the Chargers (8-5), and can clinch the AFCW with a win or tie at San Diego next Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Orton outplayed Peyton Manning.
As strange as that sentence seems, what’s stranger is that it doesn’t matter if it’s true.
These Broncos are winning old school. Hey, Denver—1987 called. It wants its passing game back.
Call it Foxball. Call it a commitment to the run. Call it a preference for girls with auburn hair.
Whatever it is, Dan Reeves would be damn proud.
C.J. Anderson scored three rushing touchdowns for Denver, while Peyton Manning and Kyle Orton each threw two ugly interceptions.
If you care about this sort of thing, Manning's streak of games with at least one touchdown pass ended at 51, one shy of Tom Brady and three short of Drew Brees's all-time record. His 20 attempts were by far the fewest he's posted as a Bronco; he'd attempted as few as 26 passes three times with Denver.
Inactives: Broncos - Ronnie Hillman, Montee Ball, Kayvon Webster, Cody Latimer, Quinton Carter, Michael Schofield, Chris Clark
Bills - WR Mike Williams, DE Jarius Wynn, TE Chris Gragg, S Bacarri Rambo, FB Frank Summers, OL Cyrus Kouandjio, LB Randell Johnson
Enjoy the game, and Go Chargers (those words are incredibly hard to write)!
Good Morning, Broncos fans! With a win today against Buffalo, Denver (9-3) can substantially improve its playoff position, one way or another.
San Diego (8-4) hosts New England (9-3) in the night game, in a matchup that obviously contains major AFC implications. Obviously, we'll all be rooting for the Chargers, as uncomfortable a concept that may be.
Wins by Denver and San Diego would give the Broncos a leg up in the race for the #1 seed and homefield advantage.
When Orlando Franklin learned that he was being moved to left guard last offseason, he issued a very negative tweet on the subject. He quickly took it down, and got on board with the idea. The development of the offensive line as a whole has followed a similar path.
There were some tenacious problems that developed early in the season. They were dealt with, one after another. No player is starting where he did last season for the Broncos. Yet Denver has a revitalized line.
"When I first heard about it, you get disappointed, because you're moving positions," Franklin said. "But at the end of the day, as long as I'm on the field and as long as I'm one of the best five, I'm happy with that."
The Broncos have indeed promoted kicker Brandon McManus from their practice squad to handle kickoffs, waiving punt returner Isaiah Burse to make room for him.
As noted by Mike Klis, Connor Barth has the worst touchback percentage (6.7%) among 47 kickers with at least 100 kickoffs since he entered the NFL in 2008.
Good Morning, Broncos fans! According to Irv Moss, the Broncos are considering activating Brandon McManus to handle kickoffs as soon as tomorrow against Buffalo.
Prior to Barth's signing, I'd suggested that using two roster spots on kickers would be a waste, as the kickoff specialist would take the place of someone who can tackle, block, catch, carry, and/or run.
But you know what? There are only four games left in the season, and once the playoffs come, the bottom couple roster spots don't figure to matter so much on game days.
Aqib Talib (hamstring) practiced in full all week and is also probable; Julius Thomas (ankle), Terrance Knighton (elbow), Jacob Tamme (rib), Quinton Carter (knee), and Quanterus Smith (ribs) were limited, and are listed as questionable.