The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

Broncos need to run table Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, we probably should have seen this one coming.

Entering last night's game, New England's three losses were by a combined four points, with five of their nine wins coming by more than three touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Texans had been blown out by Green Bay in their one loss, and in November had barely squeaked by the Bears, Jaguars, and Lions. Houston had won four blowouts, but none since Week 7.

We're admittedly using hindsight here, but what happened last night doesn't seem so shocking when framed by those facts - especially considering that the game took place in Foxboro, in the cold.

New England (10-3) jumped all over Houston (11-2) with three touchdowns on their first three drives, and things never got closer in a 42-14 rout which made the Texans look like frauds, and the Patriots like prohibitive SB favorites.

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Bring on the Ravens Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Denver's upcoming trip to Baltimore has loomed as a big game since the moment the 2012 schedule was released, but the showdown has become more crucial by the day.

Although the matchup will likely go a long way to determining who the AFC's number-two seed is, things have suddenly gotten desperate for the Ravens (9-4), who remain stuck on nine wins after yesterday's 31-28 loss to Washington (7-6). It was Baltimore's second consecutive loss, and things won't get any easier for them; after the Broncos, they'll host the Giants and then head to Cincinnati to close out the regular season.

Adding to the pain of having lost two straight nailbiters, the already banged-up Ravens lost two more of their best players to injury yesterday - an ankle sprain left Baltimore guard Marshal Yanda on crutches after the game, and Jeff Legwold says it could be a season-ending injury for the Pro Bowler. LB Jameel McClain suffered a neck injury that had him in serious pain, although X-rays were negative.

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Outside Denver, AFCW is Nepotism Central Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Many Broncos fans are disappointed that Chargers owner Dean Spanos has reportedly decided to can A.J. Smith and Norv Turner once this season's done with.

This is an understandable sentiment, what with the team's recent descent to and below mediocrity, and Smith's construction of one of the worst offensive lines you'll see.

Who wouldn't want Smith and his legendary hubris to continue running things? The presence in the division of Peyton Manning, whose family Smith openly despises (also understandably, what with Archie and Eli's Elway-like power move of 2004), only figured to cloud A.J.'s judgment even more.

But here's the thing - do you know who Spanos has been grooming to run his team's football operations for several years?

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It really is all about Peyton Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Ten wins doesn't sound like that much. Broncos fans are rather accustomed to their team reaching that plateau, as they've now done so 18 times since 1977, the year of Denver's first SB team.

But since the last double-digit campaign of 2005, there had been five seasons of mediocrity, and one of pure ineptitude.

This time, it's only taken 13 games to reach that mark.

After a 2-3 start.

As expected, the Broncos (10-3) dispatched the host Raiders (3-10) with relative ease last night in a 26-13 road win (Game Book, ANS box score) that places them one half-game ahead of New England and Baltimore, and alone as the AFC's #2 seed, pending those team's Week 14 games.

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PMFM so good it’s like he’s cheating Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Wesley Woodyard was listed as doubtful on Denver's last injury report for the week, but he did not travel to Oakland, and will not play tonight.

Brandon Stokley, who was limited in practice yesterday, says he's getting better, but will test his ailing hip tonight and be a game-time decision.

For Oakland, PR/CB Phillip Adams was cleared after having suffered a concussion against Cleveland; if he's unable to go, struggling WR Denarius Moore would return punts in his stead.

Safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell had been cleared from their concussions a day earlier, and both are expected to play; Dennis Allen returned to the team yesterday morning and oversaw practice.

Meanwhile, the Raiders issued a scathing statement as a denial of Hub Arkush's report that they were talking with Jon Gruden about a return to coaching.

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Raiders Week not quite the same Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Raiders Week has something of a different feel this time around, at least to us.

For one, the time between games is only half what it normally is - so there's hardly time to get frothed up about the classic rivalry. And of course, it's also softened by the Raiders not being a very good team.

But there's also the matter of feeling sympathy on multiple levels for Oakland's head coach.

Dennis Allen was Denver's DC for only a season, but the job he did in helping turn the Broncos defense around, his intelligence, and well-spokenness all combine to make us root for the man on some level, even if he's leading the Silver and Black.

Sadly, Dennis lost his 66-year-old father Grady this week, and for that, our thoughts go out to him and his family. Of course, John Fox and Champ Bailey offered the same on the part of the Broncos.

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Ex-boy band stars not welcome at Qualcomm Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Here we are, two days after the team nailed down a big win and the AFCW title, and they have to head out on the road and play again in two days from now.

Welcome to the NFL in 2012.

It's a brutal request of these players, to put their bodies through the punishment of two regular-season games within the span of five days. Two games in seven or eight days is difficult enough - to recover from the first game's physical and emotional toll, to prepare for the coming matchup, to travel, and suit up again. For his part, John Fox says he won't be putting his guys in full pads this week.

But at least it's the Raiders, and the bright side is the Broncos will afterward have ten days to heal and get ready for the biggest matchup left on their schedule - a road trip to Baltimore and a fight for what is likely at best the AFC's #2 seed.

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These Broncos are for real Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! The 2011 Broncos needed 16 games, three tiebreakers, smoke, and mirrors, to win the AFCW, and did so while topping the 30-point mark just two times, and being outscored by 81 points.

Peyton Manning's Broncos (9-3) require no gimmicks or common opponent calculations, and have already clinched the division outright after just 12 games, thanks to their 31-23 victory (Gamebook, ANS box score) over the visiting Bucs (6-6). Through the regular season's first three quarters, Denver has already scored 30 or more points eight times, and have outscored their opponents by 105 in total.

It took Manning only 12 games to set a new Broncos single-season standard for touchdown passes, with one to Mitch Unrein (ZOMG) and two to Demaryius Thomas (what else is new?) giving him 29 on the season. The old Denver record had been 27, shared by John Elway (1997) and Jake Plummer (2004).

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KC horrors prompt endless questions Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. The Chiefs and Panthers will play their game today as scheduled, some 28 hours after their starting middle linebacker unfathomably killed the mother of his three-month-old daughter, before taking his own life at Chiefs headquarters.

It doesn't feel like continuing with the game today is the right thing to do, yet the league left it up to the Chiefs, whose head coach (who witnessed Jovan Belcher's suicide) and captains voted unanimously to play.

Could they really be equipped to make such a decision? That's doubtful, considering what they are dealing with. Kansas City - the team, and the fans - will go through the habitual motions of a football Sunday, but will anyone really be thinking about football? It's hard to believe they will. Then again, would playing the game tomorrow instead of today make any positive difference? Not necessarily.

Belcher's high school coach and agent wonder what went wrong for a young man they describe as intelligent, hard-working, generous, and caring - a person most of us knew little or nothing about prior to yesterday.

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Tragedy at Arrowhead Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans. There's some horrifying news coming out of Kansas City today.

Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher reportedly killed his girlfriend at a residence this morning, before going to Arrowhead, where he committed suicide in the parking lot, apparently in the presence of Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel and GM Scott Pioli.

Belcher was a fourth-year linebacker who joined Kansas City after going undrafted out of Maine in 2009; he was born and raised on Long Island, in New York.

Our thoughts go out to the families involved, and the Chiefs organization, players, and fans.

The team is scheduled to host the Panthers tomorrow, and the league has not yet decided whether to go ahead with the game.

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