Good Morning, Broncos fans! As feared, a severe ankle sprain will keep right guard Chris Kuper out for as long as a month.
While the credit is not all his, the team's streak of three wins and three games without Peyton Manning having taken a sack, does coincide with the return of Kuper from the forearm injury he suffered during training camp. Denver also had (by far) its most productive game running the ball with Kuper, totaling 225 yards on the ground against New Orleans.
In 175 snaps played over three games, Kuper has graded out at an excellent +3.5; backup Manny Ramirez has a -2.4 grade in 387 snaps.
That's not to say Manny has been terrible; rather, he's had an up-and-down year standing in for Kuper, and has played very well at times. He struggled mightily against Atlanta and Houston, but graded out extremely well against Pittsburgh and Oakland, and had a neutral grade at New England.
PFF charges Ramirez with having allowed three sacks and four hurries - one hurry against the Steelers, and everything else versus the Falcons and Texans.
In his two most recent starts, against Oakland and New England, Manny graded out at a combined +3.5 in pass blocking, but -1.7 in run blocking.
So, all's not lost, and perhaps the most important thing for Kuper and the Broncos will be for him not to come back so soon that the risk of reaggravating his injury will be too great.
Oddly, Fox calls Jacob Tamme's injury a hip bruise - treating it with a full arm sleeve during the game is an interesting tact. Fox says Demaryius Thomas suffered a knee bruise, but that both players are fine.
As he wonders if the Denver defense will hold up for the rest of the season, it sure is funny to see Mike Klis write that the Saints and Bengals aren't very good, what with his recent prediction that the Broncos absoutely would not beat New Orleans, Cincy, and Carolina.
Jeff Legwold notes the growing contributions of Keith Brooking, Jim Leonhard, and Trindon Holliday, and says the Broncos are of course used to practicing against the read-option they'll see on Sunday.
Legwold hits up the Rolodex to find that Denver's special teams are pretty good, and that opponents want to negate some of Holliday's electric speed by making him change direction. He also learns via the Rolodex that Jack Del Rio has been using many different personnel packages and has been creative in his formations and calls.
Carolina is banged up at kick returner, but expect to get #2 wideout Brandon LaFell back from injury.
Yikes. The NFL admits its officials screwed up during a touchdown run by DeAngelo Williams, as an inadvertant whistle should have wiped it out.
Cole Schultz reviews the game for PFF, crediting QB Cam Newton and DE Charles Johnson, while noting the Panthers defense missed a whopping 16 tackles.
The resurgence of Carolina's defense has oddly coincided with the injury losses of two veteran starters in Jon Beason and Chris Gamble.
Jeff Darlington says that despite having emerged victorious on Sunday, the Panthers didn't quite present a winning attitude.
Saints CB Patrick Robinson opened the scoring with a 99-yard pick-six off a tipped pass in New Orleans's 28-13 victory over the visiting Eagles; Drew Brees added two TD passes, and both teams are now 3-5. The Eagles bungled what would have been a KR touchdown by lateraling the ball forward instead of backward.
Sean Payton and the Saints are reportedly allowed to negotiate a new contract during his suspension.
Anyone surprised to learn that Paul Tagliabue won't be recusing himself from the bounty suspension appeals? Didn't think so.
Titans owner Bud Adams is raving mad after his team's beatdown at the hands of the Bears, and says everyone is basically on notice. Meanwhile, Jerry Jones was apparently locked out and furiously pounding on the Cowboys' locker room door following the team's loss in Atlanta.
Too many popular favorites from Sunday, including the Broncos, covered their spreads, and Vegas took an unprecedented beating.
Les Carpenter thinks Shanny underestimated the amount of work that stood in front of him when he took the head coaching job in Washington.
In the stats and on tape, Mike Tanier sees plenty from Andrew Luck thus far to be highly impressed by.
Bucky Brooks checks in on some prospect performances from Saturday, including Oregon RB Kenjon Barner's annihilation of the USC defense.
Go vote, everyone. You know who I'm voting for - I'll be doing so with the rights and health of my wife, mother, sister, and nieces in mind.