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.

Houston still maintains a one-game lead over New England and Denver in the AFC standings, and a two-game advantage over Indy in the AFCS, but the rest of their schedule could easily drop them out of both positions. They host the upstart Colts on Sunday, the Vikings a week later, and then head to the House Peyton Built to close out their regular season. Indy now has multiple paths to the AFCS title, and now has a chance to take it outright, as unlikely as that may seem.

The Broncos now have to hope the Niners can knock off the Pats on Sunday night, but how do you like the chances of a team led by a QB making his fifth career start against Bill Belichick & Co. in Foxboro? Once New England dispatches San Francisco, a trip to Jacksonville and a home game against the Dolphins will be cakewalks.

Indeed, the AFC path to the Super Bowl now appears headed through New England, unless the Texans can somehow manage to win out.

This makes it all the more imperative that Denver gain the number-two seed and a first-round bye, so that they can put off a return trip to Foxboro until the AFC title game, and give someone else a crack at taking out the Patriots in the divisional round.

It's been apparent for some time now that the Broncos needed to run the table in order to gain a bye, and it's now become imperative. Thirteen is their magic number, because at twelve wins, they could potentially lose tiebreakers to everyone and end up as the AFC's four seed. Unlikely, but a win Sunday would ensure they're at least the three.

Thankfully, they're heading to Baltimore under the most favorable circumstances they'll ever have faced there, with the Ravens defense devastated by injuries, and the offense in flux with the firing of Cam Cameron.

Broncos/Ravens

Wesley Woodyard, who hosted his annual toy drive yesterday, agrees it was wise to leave him home for the Oakland trip so his injured ankle could heal up.

The players don't want to talk about playoff seeding, which is fine by us - we'll do more than enough of that to spread around over the coming weeks.

D.J. Williams says he's enjoying playing in the defense of Jack Del Rio, whom he figured would "weed (D.J.) in" as long as he was in shape. In a related note, personal marijuana use is now legal in Colorado, unless you're an NFLer.

Even Bill Romanowski has to admit now that dumping the UT™ for PMFM was the correct way to go, and he says that he, like the rest of us, can't take his eyes off Von Miller during Broncos games.

Nobody here is surprised to see how much the Broncos have used three-wide packages this season, right?

Baltimore no longer fields a dominant run defense, but they certainly have some offensive weapons which could match up well with Denver's defense.

Although Cameron is credited with having guided QB Joe Flacco's early development, the relationship between the two has been strained for more than two years, with Flacco publicly lobbying to play more no-huddle. Along those lines, Mike Tanier says Cameron's offense had gone stale over the last few years, and that this was as good a time as any to make the change.

It's presumed that having Jim Caldwell take over the offense means Baltimore will indeed employ more of a hurry-up look, which Caldwell is of course quite familiar with from his time in Indy with Peyton Manning.

News

An eyewitness says Jerry Brown called out for help following the accident that killed him, but that she had to convince Josh Brent to aid the friend he claims to have cared so deeply for.

Here are the updated playoff-clinching scenarios for Week 15, and can you believe it's already Week 15?

As they currently stand, the Chiefs would be picking first in the 2013 Draft, with the Jags second, and Raiders third, although KC travels to Oakland this week for a game which could alter that order.

There's a sense in Oakland that punter Shane Lechler may not be back after his contract runs out this year, what with the team's newfound fiscal sensibility - which would seem to preclude paying a punter $4M, no matter how great he may be.

The LOLJets are so desperate for offensive talent that they're reportedly considering bringing back Braylon Edwards, who only last week referred to their brass as a bunch of "idiots."

Jags coach Mark Mike Mularkey was briefly hospitalized yesterday but is said to be fine.

Matt Bowen breaks down the Colts pick-six by old friend Cassius Vaughn against Jake Locker, and he thinks the read option may be a keeper, thanks to the skill sets of Cam Newton, RG3, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson.

Were you surprised by the outcome of last night's Pats/Texans showdown?

Doug is IAOFM’s resident newsman and spelling czar. Follow him on Twitter @IAOFM

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