Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Hey, so we're still all here, right?
In lieu of a full STDL column, let's take a quick look at the advanced metrics and where the Broncos and Browns stand:
Denver remains atop Brian Burke's efficiency rankings (third on offense, second on defense), with an 81% probability of beating the Browns and an 86% chance of gaining a first-round bye. Cleveland is 23rd in overall efficiency (25th on offense, 13th on defense).
PFR's Simple Rating System ranks Denver fourth overall (offense second, defense fifth), and Cleveland 25th (28th, 17th (tie)).
The Broncos remain second to the Niners in PFF's grading, but they narrowed the gap a good deal last week. Denver grades out at third on offense, and first on defense, while Cleveland ranks 23rd on offense, 11th on defense, and 17th overall.
Chris Kuper again missed practice yesterday, and is not expected to play Sunday; Kevin Vickerson Chris Gronkowski were limited.
As he prepares to face off against Brandon Weeden, Manning says his own successes owe a lot to the failures and experiences of having gotten to start as a rookie.
Mike McCoy offered the tease that he "could stay [in Denver] a long time," and we can only hope that's the case.
Jack Del Rio's defense has topped the NFL in rushing yards allowed per attempt and per game during the team's nine-game winning streak.
Jeff Legwold thinks Robert Ayers's progress was delayed by Denver's constant turnover at DC, and he figures Brock Osweiler could finally throw a pass in the finale, if the Broncos have sewn up their playoff seed and a win over the Chiefs.
As Pete Prisco shows in his film study, the Falcons defense has confused not just Peyton Manning, but also his brother Eli, and their pal Drew Brees, with 10 picks against the trio this season. Worth noting, however, is that all three matchups took place in the noisy Georgia Dome.
Zane Beadles has been named the Broncos' Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community.
Despite the denials out of Tuscaloosa, Jason Cole is hearing that Nick Saban is already interviewing candidates to join his staff up in Cleveland, where he'd apparently be hired by Mike Lombardi a day after the BCS title game and following a sham minority interview.
Cleveland is likely to be without TE Jordan Cameron on Sunday due to a concussion he may have suffered in their last game.
Obviously, the Browns are well aware that they face a monumental task in trying to block Von Miller.
Tommy Tomlinson finds it hard to believe that Saban would leave his peerless Alabama gig and its trappings for the NFL and the Browns.
Word out of New Jersey is that Tim Tebow won't have to ask his way out of town, as the LOLJets plan to trade (LOL) or cut him. Through the prism of the LOLJets' quarterback woes, Gwen Knapp sees an incredibly fortunate Ben Roethlisberger, for having landed with the Steelers, rather than Sticks Johnson's franchise.
Here are announcer pairings and broadcast maps for Sunday; Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will call Broncos/Browns.
Week 16 previews: Mike Tanier expects a Denver blowout, for a baseball game to break out at LOLJets/Chargers, and laughs about a potential Josh McDaniels sighting in Cleveland; Benjamin Hoffman predicts a Broncos win; Matt Bowen focuses on a few matchups, including BMarsh vs. Patrick Peterson; Drew Magary obliterates TMQ, makes us aware of Chargers Bloody Mary Mix, and takes the Broncos as a suicide pick.
Bill Barnwell thinks the Steelers could be a tough playoff matchup for the Broncos, and sees the Bengals as a potential foil for the Patriots.
Denver's big comeback in San Diego is among Don Banks's favorite stories of the 2012 season.
Neil Paine looks at QB data to find that old frenemies Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers haven't performed much better than your typical backup passer this season.
Here are the draft prospects Bucky Brooks will be watching for over the next week's worth of bowl games.
Update: 9:31am ET - the "stay here a long" quote that we'd originally attributed to Jack Del Rio actually came from Mike McCoy