Following a season during which he faced the unenviable task of blocking for a player who used the entire 160-foot width of the field as his pocket, Ryan Clady received the ultimate gift in the form of Peyton Manning last March.
By choosing not to accept the reported $28M in guarantees offered him by Denver over the summer, he set himself up for an even bigger prize.
At the least, Clady figures to receive the Broncos' franchise tag, which will provide him with $9.66M in guaranteed salary, which is more than a $6M bump up from his 2012 salary of $3.5M.
Thanks to their having clinched the AFCN on Sunday, the Ravens will have the misfortune of seeing the Broncos again next year, and even worse (for them), they'll be traveling to Denver for the rematch.
In addition to the AFCW teams, Denver will host Jacksonville, Tennessee, Philly, Washington, and Baltimore. They'll head to the road for matchups with the G-Men, Cowboys, Texans, Colts, and Patriots.
Broncos starting right guard Chris Kuper again missed practice Friday and is listed as doubtful for Sunday's game against Cleveland; it would be the third consecutive game he's missed due to injury, and the ninth in total.
According to John Fox, Kuper continues to be hindered by scar tissue in his surgically-repaired ankle, and is also dealing with migraine problems. Manny Ramirez will again start in his place; Peyton Manning has taken just two sacks with Kuper in the lineup, but 19 with Ramirez starting.
Nine straight wins, all by a touchdown or more. Nine games scoring at least 30 points. Six weekly player honors.
Make that seven.
Knowshon Moreno has been named the AFC's Offensive POW for his 24-touch, 126-yard, one-touchdown effort at Baltimore, which came on the heels of a more prolific 36-touch, 167-yard, one-score performance at Oakland.
Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has affirmed the league's findings regarding the Saints bounty scandal, but has vacated all player suspensions. Makes total sense, right?
Tagliabue's statement, via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello:
Unlike Saints' broad organizational misconduct, player appeals involve sharply focused issues of alleged individual player misconduct in several different aspects. My affirmation of Commissioner Goodell's findings could certainly justify the issuance of fines. However, this entire case has been contaminated by the coaches and others in the Saints' organization.
Having reviewed the testimony very carefully, including documentary evidence that is at the center of the conflict, and having assessed the credibility of the four central witnesses on these matters, I find there is more than enough evidence to support Commissioner Goodell's findings that Mr. Vilma offered such a bounty (on Brett Favre).
The Broncos have added tackle Paul Cornick to their practice squad; he replaces Darrion Weems, who had been signed to Dallas's active roster five days ago.
Cornick had signed with the LOLJets as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota State, where he was named an All-American following his senior season.
LB Wesley Woodyard is listed as doubtful for tomorrow's game at Oakland, and is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by D.J. Williams. WR Brandon Stokley is questionable, while five other Broncos are probable.
Woodyard suffered an ankle sprain last week, which forced Williams and Danny Trevathan (21 snaps each) into increased action. The absence of Stokley resulted in more targets for Jacob Tamme, who caught a season-high nine passes against Tampa Bay.
Week 13 saw three teams (Denver, New England, Atlanta) clinch their divisions, with Houston also sealing a playoff spot.
This marks the earliest point at which any NFL season has seen either three division races end, or four playoff tickets punched, and two of them happened concurrently - as soon as Greg Schiano was done fanning his tail feathers (the Tampa Bay loss clinched the NFCS for Atlanta).
That the Broncos and Pats clinched their divisions ensures that Manning/Brady 14 (or 15, if they meet in this year's playoffs) will take place next season at Foxboro, barring injury or retirement for either.
Former Broncos Steve Atwater, Terrell Davis, John Lynch, and Karl Mecklenburg are among 27 semifinalists who will be considered for enshrinement in the 2013 HOF class, it was announced Friday.
The list of 27 former players, coaches, and executives will be pared to 15 finalists (plus the two Senior Committee candidates) in January, and the Class of 2013 will be chosen on Saturday, February 2, the day preceding SB 46 in New Orleans.