Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Ditching his wife for Manning led Stokley back to Broncos

Brandon Stokley knows it's good to be Peyton Manning's friend
www.usatoday.com

Manning promised Stokley tickets to the Duke-North Carolina basketball game if Stokley would come to Durham, N.C., to play catch. Stokley, after promising Lana they would reschedule the anniversary trip, accepted, even if he didn’t feel like he had much to offer…

“I never thought I would be part of the deal. I really didn’t. I never asked him for that,” Stokley said.

“That’s not why I wanted him to come here, so that I could come back. I wanted him to come here because I love watching him play, and I wanted my son to go to games and watch Peyton Manning play. I tried to sell him on the organization and the city, let him know it’s a great place to play football and raise a family.”

Anyone think Lana Stokley would take a trip to New Orleans for their 11th anniversary as a makeup for their postponed 10-year celebration?

Ray Lewis to return Week 15 against Broncos

Source: Ray Lewis back Dec. 16
espn.go.com

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, sidelined with a torn triceps, is expected to return on Dec. 16 to face Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, a team source told ESPN.

Back when Lewis suffered this injury, the matchup in Baltimore may have looked like just another hurdle to Denver making the playoffs. Seven weeks later, the game instead looms as a showdown that could determine whether one of these teams lands a first-round bye, or even home-field advantage throughout.

Of course, each team has two more games in the interim which could altogether change the narrative yet again, so we'll see just how big Broncos/Ravens turns out to be. But without having to go very far out on a limb, our prediction is that it will be ginormous.

Benoit: Broncos might be NFL’s best

Film Room: Broncos-Buccaneers
www.footballoutsiders.com

It’s hard to pinpoint a single player in the league more valuable than Manning. Not only has he masterfully blended his fine-tuned system with offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s, he’s also quickly identified and maximized the strengths of every receiver he works with. It’s fun to see on film all the little things Manning does to make the game easy for his teammates. It’s no accident that every Broncos player has adapted so well to the new system and seems to be improving by the week.

Laudable as Denver’s offense has been, it’s the defense that has this team looking like Super Bowl favorites in the AFC. It’s almost fruitless trying to analyze this scheme, as John Fox and Jack Del Rio have sprinkled it with so many different flavors.

Benoit expects Peyton Manning to spend much of Sunday going after young Tampa Bay corners E.J. Biggers and Leonard Johnson, and to find loads of success there.

As for the defense, he sees several players operating at a Pro Bowl level in recent weeks, and he's bewildered that Tony Carter's elite coverage skills weren't discovered earlier.

A Super Bowl in Denver?

Denver mayor, Broncos pursue 2018 Super Bowl bid
www.denverpost.com

The Denver Broncos and Visit Denver in late August submitted an application to the National Football League’s Super Bowl Advisory Committee to bid to host the Super Bowl in 2018, 2019 or 2020…

...Already, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Indianapolis have said they are vying for 2018 — which would be announced at the NFL owners meeting in May 2014…

...“The New Jersey game is going to tell a good story on how that works in an outdoor venue,” Scharf said. “We have daily highs that are above Indianapolis and New York. We are 10-degree warmer than Indianapolis and 7 degrees warmer than New York in February. That is also our second driest month of the year. It is not totally out of the question.”

There are a lot of reasons bringing the Super Bowl to Denver is a good move (the rabid fans, the Rocky Mountain skyline, seeing how many out-of-towners get altitude sickness), but one reason stands above all others: we're way better than New Jersey.

Welcome home, Jake

Jake Plummer Rekindles His Love for the Game He Left
www.nytimes.com

Plummer said fans did double-takes when they saw him. But as the game continued, he reminisced with longtime security guards, talked with a young fan whose parents had told him not to bother Plummer, high-fived a mascot and was treated to a few beers by fans who said they remembered him fondly.

Plummer later slipped down to the sideline to watch Manning and Roethlisberger, who had each ruined his postseason hopes. But Plummer did not dwell on that. He cheered on the Broncos’ defense, the way he used to as a player, when he wanted to get back out onto the field as quickly as possible.

After the Broncos won, 31-19, Plummer sat on a patch of grass outside and watched jubilant fans exit the stadium.

“I used to play a big part of that,” Plummer said. “Sending people out of the stadium ecstatic and full of energy.”

Nothing was ever right about how the Snake left the Broncos, or Denver - it's a pleasure to learn he's back in town, and again a part of the Broncos family.

Rule which cost Lions may be overturned before season’s end

After Detroit debacle, NFL could change red-flag rule during season
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

NFL executive V.P. of football operations Ray Anderson told Mike Florio on the Dan Patrick Show that the league could review the rule that says the referee will not review a scoring play if a coach throws his challenge flag. Anderson said it’s even possible that the rule could be changed during the season, instead of waiting until after the season.

This cannot happen soon enough. The damage done to Detroit's playoff hopes and to the Broncos' #1-seed aspirations is irreversible, but better late than never.

Chiefs fan goes postal

Man charged in Lee's Summit shooting sparked by Chiefs game
www.kshb.com

A 65-year-old Lee’s Summit man is charged with shooting a man after an insult-filled afternoon of watching the Chiefs football game. Ronald L. Hall is charged in Jackson County Court with assault and armed criminal action.

Court documents state Hall, his son and several other men gathered at a Lee’s Summit house on Sunday to watch the football game. Hall’s son told police everyone at the gathering had been drinking and trading insults as they watched the game. He also told police his father was ill-tempered and mean and his disposition had gotten worse in the last year, according to court documents…

...The victim suffered critical injuries, including a stroke.

Kids, listen up to your ol' friend TJ: mixing firearms, alcohol, and Chiefs games is rarely a good idea.

It's One to Grow On...

[Deadspin]

IAOFM wants PFT to know there’s more to rushing the passer than just sacks

Aldon Smith wants Von Miller to know who leads the league in sacks
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

Miller is a phenomenal player who was last year’s defensive rookie of the year, but Smith is making a strong case that he’s the premier pass rusher from last year’s draft. Smith had 14 sacks last year to Miller’s 11.5, and Smith’s total of 29 sacks in his first 26 NFL games are the most any player has ever had in the first 26 games of his career.

Whether Smith or Miller is the better player may boil down to a matter of personal preference. Suffice to say, both the 49ers and the Broncos are very pleased with their first-round draft picks from last year.

Personal preference - or a willingness to look beyond the simple comfort of a traditional stat - as we were just discussing with our friends Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera.

By PFF's accounting, Von has 61 pressures (13 sacks, 11 hits, 37 hurries) in 663 snaps (9.2%), while Smith has 43 pressures (15 sacks, 9 hits, 19 hurries) in 618 snaps 7.0%). It's not exactly a close call. The site's grades say the same thing - they have Von at +60.1, and Smith at +14.6.

According to Brian Burke, Von also beats Smith in WPA (1.10 to 0.70), EPA (48.0 to 34.5), and Success Count (44 to 37).

So, sure. Miller versus Smith is a matter of personal preference. Or, of thinking versus not thinking.

John Elway to Tebow fans: Go f$#@ yourselves

Elway still on a Rocky Mountain high
www.usatoday.com

Elway said he believes moving on from Tebow to a more traditional quarterback was the right move.

“I believe that there are Tebow fans, and there are Broncos fans,” he said. “My responsibility is to the Broncos fans, and my responsibility is to (owner) Pat Bowlen and what he wants to do, and that’s win championships. “

Thank you, John Elway.

If, for some reason, you don't go to heaven, we'd be happy to join you in your blue and orange hell.

Football endangering Roethlisberger’s life

Ben Roethlisberger has rare, dangerous rib injury
www.nfl.com

Roethlisberger told reporters on Wednesday that the injury could kill him by pressing against his aorta and puncturing his lung. So that’s not good.

His rib is partially dislocated. Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com and NFL Network passes along word from Roethlisberger that his pain level is at a 9 on a scale of 1-10. He’s only sleeping four hours a night. Ed Bouchette of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette doesn’t expect Roethlisberger to play for a while.

This morning I got a paper cut that I would describe as a 6, so one only imagines what would make Roethlisberger dole out a 9.

Some things are more important than football.  A man's aorta (along with his testicles) happens to be one of those.

The Steelers can wait--even if they have to wait until next year.