Good Morning, Broncos fans! The official playoff scenarios haven't been released by the league yet (that's supposed to happen today), but it appears a Denver win at Buffalo combined with an Oakland loss or tie at KC would clinch the AFC West for the Broncos. And according to Stuart Zaas, the Broncos can also clinch a wild card spot on Saturday by beating the Bills, plus losses or ties by the Titans, Jets and Bengals.
The Niners beat the Steelers 20-3 last night in a game delayed twice by a power outage, and Ben Roethlisberger turned it over four times (three picks, one fumble). Big Ben played with a brace on his high ankle sprain (on his left/plant leg) but was apparently not hobbled. It will be interesting to see if the Steelers play Roethlisberger the next two weeks, although presumably they will since they still have a shot at both the AFC North title, the #1 or #2 seed and a first-round bye. The loss for Pittsburgh keeps Baltimore ahead of them in the standings (by virtue of sweeping the Steelers earlier in the season) and increases the likelihood that the Broncos would end up hosting the Steelers in the Wild Card round, should Denver win the AFC West.
So, if Big Ben plays the next two games but Baltimore hangs on for the division title, the Broncos would likely be facing a more faithful but less mobile Roethlisberger in the playoffs. Hmm. Before we get carried away, let's get to the links.
Charles Pierce finds it ridiculous that folks claim it's inappropriate to question or criticize Tim Tebow's vocal piety, especially when he has willingly aligned himself with a bigotry-promoting hate group. He also points out that the sect of Christianity that Tebow belongs to clashes quite strongly with the rest of Christianity.
In his latest mailbag, Mike Klis lays out a couple of ideas for going with Tebow next year and backing him up, plus he thinks Kyle Orton may have earned himself a big payday by beating the Pack.
So last week the story was that the Denver receivers suck, and now it's that Demaryius Thomas has the most receiving yards of any receiver in the league over the past three weeks (18 catches, 338 yards). Hilarious.
Magic Sam is hopeful that at least now everyone can ease up on the Tebow talk.
Lindsay Jones on the playoff possibilities.
Jeff Legwold says the Broncos have struggled mightily in defending the run with their nickel package. Plus, he says Denver was outclassed on Sunday and he looks forward to their matchup with the Bills.
No surprise here, but Broncos/Pats was a television ratings bonanza.
Here's a transcript of Tebow's postgame presser via the DP.
Buffalo had off yesterday and will return to practice today.
Jerry Sullivan says Ryan Fitzpatrick has resembled an overpaid backup since getting his big contract. Typical Ivy Leaguer just playing well for the big contract...
Bucky Gleason figures WR Stevie Johnson will be heading elsewhere via free agency.
Kevin Fishbain on the Bills' dichotomous season.
Notes on the Bills from LJ.
The injury to Pats DE Andre Carter on Sunday ended his season. Meanwhile, Green Bay lost T Derek Sherrod for the year with a broken leg, and T Bryan Bulaga sprained a knee and is unlikely to play this week. Bears WR Johnny Knox and Bucs CB Aqib Talib are also done.
Jason La Canfora says the jobs of Steve Spagnuolo and Raheem Morris are safe for at least this week.
Mike Freeman is hearing that De Smith could end up leaving the NFLPA should they not pay him a bonus he thinks he's due.
Incredibly, the Eagles still have a chance at the NFC East title.
Now that they've almost locked up a playoff spot, Bucky Brooks says the Lions will be fearsome come January.
Keith Goldner breaks down Romeo Crennel's fourth-down calls from Sunday in KC's win.
Jason Whitlock thinks the American economic system should mirror that of the NFL.
Mark Cuban thinks there will be an openly gay NBA player within the next few years, and he thinks the league's players would handle it well. How would the NFL react to the same? In case you see this as a religious issue, please head back to that Charles Pierce article for a refresher.