Happy Monday, friends. I'm on Lard duty today, and TJ is going to cover it tomorrow. Doug should be back on Wednesday, so the streak will live on. Of course, you'll have to live with my half-assedness today, but I'm hoping you can deal with it.
We're happy today, hopefully, because the Broncos won a shootout, and had to deal with some adversity. The losses of Chris Harris and Wesley Woodyard really hurt their ability to cover downfield, but the offense was able to overcome the struggles of the defense, with a timely assist from Shaun Phillips (2 sacks in the game) and Danny Trevathan on the Cowboys' final drive.
Once the Broncos got the ball back with the game tied at 48, they did the smart thing, and ran the clock down, and kicked the winning field goal. Mark Kiszla, who I ordinarily can't stand/don't read, has an interesting story amid his normal cliche-pocalypse.
So, before the snap, Manning turned to Moreno in the backfield and, swear to goodness, I could not make up what the Denver quarterback said to his running back.
"Go down. Don't score. Go down at the 1-yard line," Moreno told me in the Broncos locker room.
Say what? Gain 36 inches for first down, but not 72 inches for a touchdown? That went against every running back's instinct to fight for the touchdown.
"I was like: 'How?' " said Moreno, who waved his hands in frustration at his quarterback. "I was confused how to do it."
Manning barked back: "Just do it!"
Of course, the strategy was the one that all of us IAOFMers were talking about in our game chat, but it's funny to think of a RB not to know how to get 1 yard, but not 2. Moreno did the right thing, the Broncos ran the clock out, and the oft-vilified Matt Prater hit a chip shot to win the game.
The Broncos have demolished the prior 5-game scoring record (230 points against the 2000 Rams' total of 217) and they share first place with the Chiefs at 5-0, and people have already started to talk about a 9-0 game between the teams on November 17th. Who was the first person to talk about that, anyway? Oh, yeah. It was me.
The Broncos have been the most impressive team in the NFL this season, and while some defensive injuries have started to play a factor, it's nice to have the Jaguars come to Denver, and then to have Von Miller return to the fold the following week. That's a good way to get healthy.
The Broncos Rigamarole
Chris Wesseling at NFL.com ponders the state of Peyton Manning's game, and compares his fastball to that of Greg Maddux. I don't agree that Manning's arm is the weakest in the NFL, or that he throws many wounded ducks, but it's true that it's not what it used to be. I do like his contrasting of Manning and Cam Newton; one guy works maniacally at 37 years old, and the other guy seems to think he arrived before he even got to the NFL.
For some reason, LeSean McCoy wanted to trash-talk Knowshon Moreno on Twitter, after Knowshon had a really big day yesterday. Moreno responded appropriately, with a classy brush-off.
My pal Jeff Legwold had the character of the game spectacularly wrong, when he said on local Denver radio that the Cowboys would be able to play a smash-mouth run game, and make the Broncos slug it out, and keep the score down. In his articles after the game, there's no mea culpa for that, as usual. Jeff knows very well that we call him on his bullshit, and he may think that IAOFM isn't listening to him on the radio, but TJ does. You're not safe anywhere, bro. If you say dumb stuff, we will know, and we will hold you accountable for it.
Legwold does have a good tidbit about Peyton Manning not even telling anybody that he was going to keep the ball for his touchdown run. To El Pequeno - well done.
The Broncos are officially a 27.5 point favorite against the Jags on Sunday, which is an all-time record for an NFL game. I expect action on the Broncos to be heavy, even after they failed to cover today, and for that spread to only go up.
KSK appropriately makes fun of Jim "WASPs up, Others down" Nantz and Phil "Stupid and I know it" Simms.
The 5-0 Saints beat the 3-2 Bears 26-18, in a game in which Jay Cutler's stats looked solid on paper, but in which he came up small on the field. Does anybody still miss that guy?
Amid a torrential downpour, the Bengals won a fierce defensive battle 13-6 against the Patriots. Tom Brady continues to look to me like his throwing ability has fallen off from his peak. The Bengals are loaded with talent, but Andy Dalton hasn't taken the 3rd year step that I'm sure the organization was hoping he'd take.
The Lions sorely missed Calvin Johnson, and the Packers beat them 22-9. From what I saw, it was a pretty boring game.
The Chiefs beat the Titans 26-17, finding small advantages in all three phases of the game, and having it add up to another win. Ryan Fitzpatrick was his normal self, making a number of good short throws, but throwing a couple ill-timed picks.
The Colts showed their mettle by turning back the Seahawks 34-28. They've really taken well to being a physical team, and I'm surprised to say that I think they're a legitimate contender to win an AFC Championship. The Seahawks are outstanding too, but they lost a tough road game to a good team.
The Rams toyed with getting beat by the Jaguars, but pulled away by a score of 34-20. Jags QB Blaine Gabbert left the game with a case of aggravated awfulness, but at least Maurice Jones-Drew had a decent showing. The Jags ought to sell him this week for whatever they can get.
The Ravens beat the Dolphins 26-23 in a back-and-forth game between good teams. Both are now 3-2. Ryan Tannehill continued to show promise for the Fins, but they're absolutely going to need to figure out how to protect him better. A late sack forced an unnecessarily long 57-yard Caleb Sturgis FG attempt, which was partially blocked.
The Eagles (2-3) beat the sorry-ass Giants (0-5) 36-21 in a pitiful NFC East game that somebody had to win. Nick Foles played very well in the second half for the Eagles, after Michael Vick left with a hamstring injury. Eli Manning threw three more picks, and now has twelve in five games. His teflon coating may wear off soon.
Cam Newton stunk up the joint, throwing 3 picks and taking a safety to help the Cardinals win 22-6 against the Panthers. Stat guys like Newton, but to me, he fails the eye test. He's like Nuke LaLoosh - a million dollar arm, and a 10 cent head. Of course, the Cardinals defense helped Newton suck so mightily, and has led the team to a 3-2 record.
The Niners stifled the Texans 34-3 in the Sunday night game. I learned two things: 1.) The Texans aren't legit as a Super Bowl contender. 2.) Colin Kaepernick has talent, but he's not a proficient NFL QB yet. Let's dial back on the praise of him for a while, until he can throw it against a good defense with a good game plan.
The Raiders continued to look like a competent NFL team, and beat the Chargers 27-17. Both teams now sit at 2-3, and maybe some of the luster starts coming off the Philip Rivers rejuvenation narrative, after he threw three picks, including a late killer by rookie first rounder D.J. Hayden.
Some Quick Thoughts
1. I think the Texans would have made for an ideal landing spot for Josh Freeman. I think that Matt Schaub has always been less talented than other QBs in the NFL, and I think he's declining in his physical ability to throw the ball. Freeman has all the tools, and the Texans may offer the ideal offense in the NFL to maximize his strengths (throwing deep, moving around), and minimize his weaknesses (full-field reads, a need for precise accuracy).
2. That said, his signing with the Vikings isn't a bad spot for him either. He's more talented than either Christian Ponder or Matt Cassel, both of whom I consider to be good backup types. The $3 million contract he got from the Vikings is on top of his termination pay from the Bucs.
3. Mike Florio sucks, and he doesn't belong on TV. "With an opportunity to set the single-game yardage record, [Romo] throws a critical interception..." Yeah, Florio, he was thinking about an individual record. Really, how did PFT get so big that NBC wanted to buy them? All they do is aggregate the work of others, and make snarky/nonsensical comments on it. Why does anybody care what this smarmy little wanker (and his band of lesser wankers) thinks about anything?
4. There was quite an opening to the Raiders-Chargers late-nighter. Eddie Royal basically quit on a deep route (he was double-covered), that ended up as a bad interception by Usama Young. On the next snap, Terrelle Pryor threw a perfect deep ball to Rod Streater for a 44-yard TD pass down the sideline.
It's clear that Rivers has benefited from a more QB-friendly scheme, but I'm not ready to buy that he's back to his 2008 form, not by a long shot. Pryor, though, continues to show some promise, now that he's been exposed to some quality NFL coaching. He's seeing the field like a pro QB, and that's impressive for such an inexperienced player.
5. Brandon Marshall is bitching about his role in the Bears offense. Who's surprised?
7. Retired for John Elway (TYJE).
8. After yesterday's game, I imagine a lot of superstitious Broncos fans must have choked down some queen-oh's to keep the streak going.
9. Speaking of streaks, the Broncos fell short of tying the all-time NFL record for consecutive regular season wins by 7+ points. Their streak ended at 15, and the record is still 16 games, as set by the 1941-42 Chicago Bears.
The Broncos have still won 15 regular season games in a row, and they're chasing the 2008-2009 Colts, who won 23 straight. The QB was some guy named Manning.
10. Eddie Royal had a rough game in the late-nighter. When he muffed a second quarter punt, he led Denver-area radio mouth-breather Brandon Spano to unleash the stupidest puns of the millenium on Twitter.
My following Spano on Twitter is like Eddie Murphy being at a disco with Deney Terrio in 1987. Don't ask me why, and shit.
Andy Benoit's wrap-up for the NY Times is good as usual. He makes the point that other teams won't be able to spread out the Broncos like Dallas did, once Von Miller is back on the field. Benoit also criticizes the stupid NFL rule that allows a blocked kick, which stays behind the line of scrimmage to be advanced by the kicking team. That apparently benefited San Diego last night, after I went to bed at halftime.
Bill Barnwell comes right out and says it, truth to power, on Grantland:
If you think Tony Romo cost Dallas that game yesterday, you're a fool.
Barnwell goes on to ponder the question of Dallas letting the Broncos score, and when they should have done so.
Peter King's article is long on words, and short on insight, as per usual. About the only non-obvious football thing he has to say is that he thinks the competition committee will consider longtime special teams coach Mike Westhoff's proposals to tweak kickoff rules. Westhoff would like to have more returns, while keeping concussions down, and he proposes to do that by reducing the running starts that a lot of players get.
King also talks to odious sleazebag Washington attorney/lobbyist Lanny Davis, who among his secretive client base counts civil rights violating dictators/nations, the most corrupt for-profit universities, polluters/climate change deniers, and the NFL franchise in Washington. Davis, who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, trots out the same tired polling numbers about the team's racist name, and PK credulously reports it.
John Clayton is doing his trend-spotting thing. He missed a memo, and thinks that Josh Freeman will sign with the Raiders on Monday. (Seriously.)
I checked FOX Sports, but nothing therre really qualified as a useful analysis or wrapup. They did have a report on the streaker at the Presidents' Cup. (Her lady parts are blurred out, because FOX is so family friendly.)
Similarly, NFL.com was short of content when I looked at 6:43 AM Arizona Time today. They just hired some reporter types like Mike Silver, and I'm confused as to where the timely content is.
At CBS, Will Brinson's recap includes the observation that all four primary Broncos receivers are on pace to finish with over 1,000 yards this season. Pete Prisco has his own observations, which (typically for him) are mostly obvious.
Being fair, I next went to NBC, and it seems they've entirely hitched their NFL wagon to PFT. Dumb.
After that, I went to Bleacher Report. OK, no I didn't; I get enough spam, and despite their apparent hiring of some good writers, every time I click on a B/R link, I still get the poorly written/awfully reasoned drivel from whatever random schmo feels like writing an article. And then i get a pop-up harassing me to sign up for a newsletter. Bleacher Report still sucks until they make it not suck anymore.
Dominic Raiola is still a jerk.
That's what I have for today, friends. Be excited for TJ's Lard tomorrow morning. He said he was going to try to have some fun with it, and that portends for lots of fun for readers everywhere.