Good Morning, Broncos fans! Wesley Woodyard was listed as doubtful on Denver's last injury report for the week, but he did not travel to Oakland, and will not play tonight.
Brandon Stokley, who was limited in practice yesterday, says he's getting better, but will test his ailing hip tonight and be a game-time decision.
For Oakland, PR/CB Phillip Adams was cleared after having suffered a concussion against Cleveland; if he's unable to go, struggling WR Denarius Moore would return punts in his stead.
Safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell had been cleared from their concussions a day earlier, and both are expected to play; Dennis Allen returned to the team yesterday morning and oversaw practice.
Meanwhile, the Raiders issued a scathing statement as a denial of Hub Arkush's report that they were talking with Jon Gruden about a return to coaching.
PFF's Chris Benson says Oakland will need to contain Denver's wideouts and play better on both lines if they're to stand a chance, and he thinks the Broncos could try to focus on running the ball tonight.
Andrew Mason gets the same sense regarding the running game from Peyton Manning's comments, and he reminds everyone that the injury to Woodyard is a fine reminder of why the Broncos were wise not to ditch D.J. Williams.
Jeff Legwold gives Denver the edge in every facet of the game, goes over their keys to victory, and stubbornly insists it's important that they overcome their negative turnover differential. Now for reality - the Broncos were minus-6 through five games, and have been plus-3 in the seven games since. They've already turned things around, so it's useless to focus on the overal differential at this point.
While John Elway had praised the throw made by Manning on his first touchdown to Demaryius Thomas against Tampa Bay, Legwold details the excellent communication between the two players that led to their second score of the day.
Legwold also discusses the vast improvements shown by Rahim Moore in his second season, although Legwold's snap data shows much smaller numbers than does PFF, which has Moore listed as having played 846 defensive snaps. By PFF's accounting, eight Broncos defenders have seen at least 699 snaps, with Moore, Champ Bailey, and Mike Adams all above the 800-snap threshold.
Bucs rookie Mark Barron marveled at the in-game adjustments made by Peyton Manning last week:
It was amazing, almost like I thought he was cheating. I was just kind of in amazement that he was able to recognize some the things that we were doing. Most of it was new but he picked up on it and he recognized a lot of the things that we were doing.
The Chiefs attended a memorial service for Jovan Belcher yesterday; thanks to the new CBA, the orphaned daughter of Belcher and Kasandra Perkins will receive significant financial support from the NFL through college. Bob Costas is expanding upon his gun commentary, on both his own show and on Dan Patrick's; Robert Lipsyte and Will Leitch applaud Costas for taking a stand on an important issue, no matter the forum, and so do we.
Along those same lines, Jemele Hill appropriately writes that it's time we re-examine how domestic violence is handled in the world of American sports. Indeed, something is wrong when a player is suspended longer for using Adderall than he is for beating up his wife or girlfriend, if he's punished for that at all.
Ray Lewis returned to practice for Baltimore with the expectation he'll play next week against Denver, while Terrell Suggs says he's planning to suit up this week despite having suffered a torn biceps.
Sexy Rexy says he's sticking with Buttfumble as his starting QB at Jacksonville, where they've uncovered vacant seats for the return of the Ultimate Teammate™.
The latest group headed to IR includes Chargers LB Antwan Barnes, Bills DE Chris Kelsay, Titans G Steve Hutchinson, and Cowboys C Phil Costa, while Chargers WR Vincent Brown is not expected back from IR when eligible.
Cam Newton apparently made more enemies than friends at the last Pro Bowl, which prompted AFC defenders to turn up their games on the field against him.
On the topic of overinflated egos, Browns tackle Joe Thomas says having Peyton Hillis on his team last year was an endless soap opera, and that Hillis was all-consumed by his desire for a new contract.
Not that the NFL is planning to put a team at the Rose Bowl, but Pasadena residents are proactively protesting against such a possibility.
The idea that the successes of this year's rookie quarterbacks says anything about how next season's rookie passers will fare is a ludicrous one, and if NFL decision makers really think they can start X player in 2013 because Luck and RG3, then they're not long for their jobs. Let's remember that every starting rookie QB this season won their jobs in training camp, and pretty clearly. Also, there is no Luck or RG3 in the coming draft.
Data from across the league shows that indeed, it's all about passing the ball, which has resulted in teams handing it off more rarely than ever, but also at unprecedented rates of success.
While the guys over at the DP continue to incorrectly say the Broncos struggle running the ball and stopping the run, Chase Stuart more intelligently examines success rates, finding Willis McGahee as the second-most efficient back in the league, and both the run offense and defense among the league's better units. Stuart still expects Denver to win out and end up at 13-3.
Ben Muth breaks down a rather creative play-action pass from Tom Brady to Aaron Hernandez that must have been drawn up by Bill Belichick, and not Josh McDaniels, amirite?