The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

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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Broncos win would clinch AFCW and NFCS Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Adderall has become a hot topic in the NFL this season.

A slew of players have been suspended this season for apparent abuse of the ADHD med, including Broncos tight end Virgil Green. Most players have challenged their bans, with varying levels of success. Excuses for positive tests by players have ranged from needing to stay awake during long drives, to incorrectly filed paperwork with the league, to urine sample switcheroos.

Outside theories on the rise in positive tests have included players needing a boost to trudge through their lengthy playbooks, or seeking an awareness edge during games, or covering for a more sinister substance (ie steroids) by citing the more societally acceptable Adderall.

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2012 Broncos have outscored 2011 Broncos Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Brandon Stokley (hip, wrist) and Manny Ramirez (back) were limited in practice yesterday, while Robert Ayers was the only player absent.

Ayers is back east mourning the unexpected loss of his father, the funeral service for whom will be held on Saturday in Virginia. It would appear unlikely that Ayers would play Sunday against Tampa Bay after having missed the entire week of practice, and rookie Malik Jackson has been prepping to fill in Ayers's spot backing up Elvis Dumervil at RDE.

Tampa Bay is also in relatively good shape, with defensive tackle Roy Miller the only player to miss practice Wednesday, and starting center Ted Larsen a limited participant (both due to illness). Their biggest issue is apparently offensive line depth, and they re-signed guard Derek Hardman to help them there.

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RIP, Marvin Miller Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! American professional sports lost a great, influential man on Tuesday, with the passing of Marvin Miller at the age of 95.

Miller, the legendary former head of the MLB players union, helped athletes across America find their individual and collective power.

Under his watch, MLB players won free agency, the right to have their grievances arbitrated, more substantial pensions, and the ability to hire their own agents. Eventually, these improvements reached the NFL and other major sports, and we all have reason to be thankful in that regard.

The power of the individual athlete manifested in John Elway forcing his way out of Baltimore and into Denver, and that move is obviously having positive repercussions on the Broncos franchise to this day. Free agency has, of course, brought many important players to Denver, most recently Peyton Manning.

So, thank you, Marvin Miller, and RIP.

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Jay Cutler is a doting father figure Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! With Peyton Manning having been sacked twice and administered a concussion test on Sunday, Jeff Legwold thinks it's suddenly time for Denver to bring out some heavier personnel groupings.

We're not buying it, for even a second.

Obviously, Denver's chances go down the tubes if Peyton gets hurt - but that has been the case since Day 1, and is also true for most NFL teams - especially those with great quarterbacks.

As Ted has been telling us since March, the Manning offense puts 11 personnel (one back, one end, three wideouts) on the field and likes to keep them out there, preferably in a slow no-huddle fashion. It is Manning and Denver's most effective grouping, and a couple of sacks is not a reason to change course there.

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Thank You, Romeo Crennel Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've spent the past eight months and six days thanking John Elway, for having turned our Broncos - by virtue of one pair of deft transactions - from self-promoting circus to legit contender characterized by intense professionalism.

Today, our heartfelt gratitude goes out to Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel, who gift-wrapped yesterday's 17-9 game (GamebookANS box score) in a roll of Foxball-like (and then some) paper.

Not only did KC have Peyton Hillis attempt a pass to Brady Quinn on third-and-three of their game-opening, Bronco-mauling opening drive, but Romeo doubled down on the stupidity by going for the field goal when the ill-conceived throw failed. It was early four-down territory for the Chiefs, but in a game where Crennel and his players were never, ever thinking ahead, Denver escaped what seemed sure to be a 7-0 deficit.

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Crennel has had Peyton’s number Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! We've all read countless chronicles of Peyton Manning's comeback from injury, and his rehabilitation at Duke with David Cutcliffe.

But each time, there are some new nuggets to keep our attention.

The latest such column is from Sam Farmer of the LA Times, who speaks with all of the usual characters, plus the original Fat Man, in doing his research.

Manning finally comes out and tells Farmer that he simply cannot throw the ball as far as he used to, even calling his new style of play as the normally dreaded "dinking and dunking." John Fox says he appreciates that Peyton takes copious notes from Fox's meetings with the team, and that his own leadership talking points are repeated by the QB later on each week.

It's a lot of the same old stuff, but there's enough new information to make it a worthwhile read. (via Dan Pompei)

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Thx for the turkey, Chiefs. You still suck, tho Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Poor Brady Quinn.

Dude's finally getting another crack at the Chiefs' top QB gig, four weeks after having suffered a concussion one quarter into his start against the Raiders. But at least he'll be playing behind a decent offensive line that's been around league-average in terms of allowing sacks, right?

Not so much.

Kansas City will most likely be without starting left tackle Branden Albert for tomorrow's game, in which case third-round rookie Donald Stephenson would start in his place. Ryan Lilja and Jon Asamoah are questionable, but it sounds like they'll play.

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