O’Brien the first domino to fall

Happy New Year, Broncos fans! It appears the first head coaching hiring will be Bill O'Brien by Houston.

It's being reported that the Texans have reached agreement on a contract with the PSU coach, and the deal is expected to be announced within the next few days.

O'Brien would be walking into a plum job - a loaded defense, playmakers Arian Foster, Andre Johnson, and DeAndre Hopkins, and the first-overall pick with which to select a franchise quarterback, presumably Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville.

The departure of O'Brien from PSU after just two seasons has apparently prompted bitter reactions from Nittany Lions fans, but if anyone should be aware that college sports isn't the bastion of purity, loyalty, and amateurism it's made out to be, it's them.

Besides, where is the line drawn as far as his tenure having been long enough?

Broncos

Video: Champ Bailey was mic'd up for Sunday's game at Oakland; Jacob Tamme visited with CBS4 and Vic Lombardi.

Zane Beadles thinks the offensive line has improved its play as the season has gone on.

In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis considers the interesting possibility of shifting Chris Clark over to right tackle and kicking Orlando Franklin inside next season.

Jeff Legwold hits up the Rolodex to praise Denver's downfield blocking on offense and analyzes the growing roles of Michael Huff and Robert Ayers on defense.

Andrew Mason discusses Peyton Manning's record-breaking touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas.

Peter Bukowski argues that Peyton Manning's 2013 isn't the greatest season by a QB, since it's not even the best of his career. I agree, but it doesn't require such a longwinded explanation - a quick look at TD %, NY/A, and ANY/A tells a very clear story. 2013 is the better story, given all he's overcome, but 2004 was clearly the better season.

Coaching Carousel

New England has granted permission for Josh McDaniels to interview in Cleveland, where Norv Turner and the rest of Rob Chudzinski's assistants reportedly - and appropriately - feel like they've had the rug pulled from under their feet.

Detroit is expected to interview Lovie Smith and Jim Caldwell, and may be interested in violent thug Tom Cable, but Jason La Canfora thinks Ken Whisenhunt will end up with the job.

Washington GM Bruce Allen will now control personnel decisions with Shanny gone, and he hopes to interview Carolina DC Sean McDermott, Seattle OC Darrell Bevell, and Cincy coordinators Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer.

Kevin Sumlin says he's staying at A&M with his lucrative new deal.

News

Two-time SB champ Neil Smith has joined the lawsuit by ex-Chiefs players against the team for its handling of head injuries, while the mother of the late Jovan Belcher has filed a wrongful death suit against the team.

Up in Green Bay, Clay Matthews has been ruled out for Sunday's game against San Francisco, for which thousands of tickets remain unsold, and Aaron Rodgers is fighting off rumors that he's gay.

Analysis

All-22: Doug Farrar previews the Wild Card matchups; Bucky Brooks thinks the Packers could threaten with the return of Rodgers; Sam Monson discusses DPOY candidates.

Farrar's All-Pro team includes Peyton Manning and Wes Welker, plus Julius Thomas, Louis Vasquez, and Chris Harris as alternates, while PFF's team for December includes Manning, Decker, and an honorable mention for Terrance Knighton.

Robert Mays and PFT Commenter dish out year-end awards.

The Broncos have done quite well in avoiding game-ending turnovers over the past decade; Scott Kacsmar recaps Sunday's comeback attempts.

Bucky Brooks thinks Johnny Manziel's future is as a franchise quarterback in the NFL.

KSK meme-ifies Week 17 and provides a stellar GIFtastic look at 2013.

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

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