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Raiders News

Defensive inconsistency hurting the Raiders when it comes to interceptions. posted by Raiders News

An interception is more than just a take away or a change of possession. It’s a huge momentum changer and one pic can bring a team from being out of the game to a roaring comeback.

However, the 0-8 Raiders don’t know much about momentum changes as they rank dead last in the league in defensive interceptions with only 3 so far on the season and 23 over the past 3 years.

Sure, the game has changed considerably. With greater concerns for player safety, hard nosed defense isn’t what it used to be. The NFL is becoming more and more a flag football league where completions and record high passing games the norm, but that shouldn’t stop a team from having an aggressive defensive mindset.

The greatest reason why the Raiders rank last in INTs is the lack of consistency in the secondary. The Raiders have had a different set of starting cornerbacks in each of the past three seasons.

That lack of continuity causes a defense to play more cautious, not knowing the ebb and flow of their teammates so they can read off each other and know when one is going for the receiver and one is free to try and snatch the ball out of the air from the receiver without worry that he’ll miss and give up 6 points.

So how does a team build that mindset without getting burned on each and every play? Practice. Practicing a more aggressive, interception friendly defense during practice is the only way the Raiders will ever climb out of the bottom of the Interceptions ranking. Because game time is too late for on the field experiments, especially with All-Pro Peyton Manning and the Broncos coming to town on Sunday.

Continue reading "Defensive inconsistency hurting the ..."

Broncos Fan

Wes Welker Injury Update and what does it mean for the future of the Broncos star wide out? posted by Broncos Fan

It hasn’t been easy for Bronco’s star wide out Wes Welker. He started off the 2014 campaign with a concussion during a preseason contest which would have sidelined him for at least one regular season game, but to compound the issue, he was suspended an additional 4 games as he tested positive for amphetamines.

Depsite the general public ridicule that came with his drug testing results, the league reinstated Welker only two weeks later instead of serving his original 4 game suspension.

Things may have seemed to be looking up for Welker until last Sunday when he left the game with a back injury. Another snag for the All-Pro receiver to an otherwise dismal year.

Is this the end for Welker? Probably not, but it’s not too far off. He is nowhere near his Pro-Bowl numbers and his output was the lowest he had since back in 2006. His role on the team is diminishing as the Broncos are looking to the next man in who is healthy and can stay healthy.

With a quarterback like Peyton, you don’t need to be reliant on a specific receiver to generate your offense. Peyton will make an offense click with just about anybody, and the Broncos are far from just having ‘anybody’.

Demaryius Thomas is one of the best wide receivers in the league. At 26 years old, he's at the peak of his powers and has a long, bright future ahead of him. Add in the teams best Red Zone target, Julius Thomas, and it’s clear that the Broncos can produce yardage and points just fine.

In addition, the signing of Emmanuel Sanders served to drain some of the targets that might've gone Welker's way after the departure of Eric Decker. Sanders is having a great season, on pace to set personal bests in receptions and receiving yards.

Continue reading "Wes Welker Injury Update and what ..."

Broncos Fan

Can Manning Take The Broncos Back To The Superbowl? posted by Broncos Fan

The Denver Broncos looked  invincible going into Super Bowl but was sent crashing back to earth by the tight defense of the Seattle Seahawks to lose, 43-8. The debacle stole the thunder from what was a solid season for the Broncos where they went 13-3.

Any story about the Broncos starts with league MVP Peyton Manning. The five-time MVP was spectacular last year with 55 touchdown passes, a single-season record. He also registered an 8.3 ypa and 5,477 yards. But it remains to be seen how Manning will sustain his brilliance as he enters the late 30s. Now 38, Manning could be a step slower this year.

Making things difficult this year is that the team would have to face the NFC West this year after feasting on the poor NFC East defenses the previous season. He struggled mightily against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and now he’ll have to deal with them again as well as defensive teams like the 49ers, Cardinals, and Rams.

Aside from the schedule, the Broncos will have to deal with a declining supporting cast. They lost Wes Walker, a favorite target of Manning. Left guard Zane Beadles also left town, and it is expected that Orlando Franklin will take his spot. Chris Clark will then take over Beadles’ old position.

Fortunately, the defensive unit of the Broncos did not lose key pieces. In fact, it may have improved its secondary with the addition of Aqib Talib, one of the best corners in the league. They also signed safety T.J. Ward, and he’ll provide a lot of help in the defensive backfield.

The Broncos will still be a contender for the NFL championship. While the offense is expected to drop, Manning should still be able to find his way and carry the offense. The good news is that the defense may have even been improved.

Continue reading "Can Manning Take The Broncos Back ..."

Amari Harris

The Fix 10-12: QB Overdose posted by Amari Harris

The turning point.

Tough loss for the Dallas Cowboys last week.  And it wasn’t one of those 24 hour losses either.  It was one of those that you think about for the next few days, and depending on how things go as you get into the middle part of the schedule, one of those games you think about all year.  A “What if?”  game, if you will.  I predicted that the Cowboys would beat the Broncos because I knew they could match up and I knew they could step their game up to stiff competition.  Did I expect a 48-51 shootout?  Hecks naw, but in hindsight it should have been obvious.  I bet that the defense would step up rather than Tony Romo actually playing at a Peyton Manning-like level.   Instead Tony Romo played perfect for exactly 58 minutes of the football game.  Peyton Manning did the same, except his mistake came earlier in the game rather than in crunch time. 

It’s ironic because Peyton is also known for making those critical mistakes in the clutch, but Romo beat him to the punch last sunday.  I can imagine a scenario where the Cowboys punted the ball to the Broncos in the last couple minutes of the game and Manning actually threw the “ game losing interception” (hyperlink).  But Romo beat him to it.  The QB duel was worth the angst.  Porous defense for sure, but the QBs made the game.  And in case anyone didn’t know, Romo is an elite quarterback.  He is not a clutch quarterback, but then again neither is Peyton Manning. 

Continue reading "The Fix 10-12: QB Overdose"

Amari Harris

The Fix- 10/4 posted by Amari Harris

Friday Football Fix: A Rare Guarantee!

I apologize for not posting before the games this weekend.  I visited my mom’s house for the weekend which meant no computer and no internet and I forgot to post before leaving for the weekend.  I’ll post what I had written to prove to you all that I knew that Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead would destroy the Dallas Cowboys, as I knew they, along with Eddie Royal, were the only real offensive threats they may not be able to handle.

Despite the sheer inability to cover those two individuals the Cowboys looked like they were well on their way to victory, after a Sean Lee interception return for a touchdown toward the end of the first half that put them up 21-10.  I think every Cowboys fan let out a collective sigh of relief, and felt that we pretty much had this one in the bag (I’ll include myself, as I ominously used the words “Victory Cigar” after that play *slap*).  They proceeded to allow 20 unanswered points, 400+ yards and 3 touchdowns from Phillip Rivers, and breakout performances by Woodhead and Gates.  Yes, it was a disappointing day.  Even with the Giants and Eagles losing once again, and the Cowboys remaining as the sole leader of the NFC division, they really could have gotten off to an encouraging start. 

Nonetheless, the past is the past, and this is a new week; a very big week indeed.  The juggernaut Denver Broncos come to town with the most unstoppable offensive machine since the Greatest Show On Turf.  The Broncos have not just beaten, but dominated every team they’ve faced this year.  They have one 14 regular season games in a row and all of them by more than a touchdown.  Suffice to say, the Cowboys will be heavy underdogs this week.  And I love it…

Continue reading "The Fix- 10/4"

Joe Anello

Free Agency 2013: Days Two and Three posted by Joe Anello

Welcome back everyone! I would have posted this last night but the lack of sleep Monday night really caught up with me. Now I’m back and ready to pick apart the transactions of days two and three of NFL free agency. Let’s get that money man!

OG Gosder Cherilus signs a 5-year, $34 million deal with Indianapolis Colts.
Additional signings: OG Donald Thomas (4 years, $14 million), LB Erik Walden (4 years, $16 million), S LaRon Landry (4 years, $24 million)

This is a group of Colt signings that I didn’t discuss in the day one recap because I was exhausted and there were too many to address. Cherilus was overpaid, but I get it. Thomas’ deal is tolerable and revamps the interior of their line. I don’t feel confident that Walden’s contract will prove to be money well spent. Still, signing Landry as well gives Chuck Pagano a play-making safety in his secondary. The Colts are spending, but not as crazily as the Dolphins.

WR Wes Welker signs a 2-year, $12 million deal with the Denver Broncos

Okay, I have a LOT to say about this deal. I took to Twitter to express my thoughts shortly after the news broke, but I felt utterly hindered by the 140-character limit. I was really upset by the news that New England only offered Welker $10 million (including incentives). He’s only been one of the hardest workers on your team for the past six seasons and this is how he gets rewarded? EFF YOU PATS.

Welker’s caught 100 balls in his entire run with the Pats and hasn’t shown signs of slowing down. So imagine my surprise when I heard the Broncos only had to pay him $12 million… for two years!  If he, in this odd-as-hell receiver market, shouldn’t get more than $6M a year, I obviously don’t know football.

Continue reading "Free Agency 2013: Days Two and Three"

Joe Anello

Free Agency 2013: Day One Recap posted by Joe Anello

NFL Free Agency started with a flurry this afternoon, with deals being announced by the minute shortly after the clock struck 4PM ET. I’m here to take a look at some of the bigger deals of the day and offer a quick take. First though, I want to cover a few of the moves made on Monday, before free agency.

(Note: I’m only going to discuss ACTUAL roster movements. While a running back visiting a crappy team *cough*ReggieBush*cough* might be newsworthy, I ain’t got time to talk about every little flight here.)

(Second note: for those of you looking for my take on the Chicago Bears’ moves, check out my earlier post here.)


Minnesota Vikings trade WR Percy Harvin to the Seattle Seahawks

The Vikings received first and seventh round picks in the 2013 draft and a third round pick in the 2014 draft.

The Seahawks received Harvin and signed him to a six-year, $67 million dollar deal. ($25.5 guaranteed.)

Minnesota obviously wanted to get Harvin out of their hair. Despite Harvin’s interviews to the contrary, he and head coach Leslie Frasier did NOT get along. But what player won’t love Pete Carroll? An A-HOLE, that’s who. Props to Minnesota for getting a decent bounty for Harvin, but that 25th overall pick might not be a game-breaker. Still, they’re better off. For Seattle, this deal signifies how close they think they are to a title. They’re putting all of their chips in the Harvin basket now, as they released return man Leon Washington as a result of this trade.

Continue reading "Free Agency 2013: Day One Recap"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

The 2013 Divisional Round is completed! The best weekend in football lived up to the hype, with crazy finishes (double overtimes) and historic performances. Let’s not put off this any longer. It’s time for The Final Drive!

(12-6) Baltimore Ravens 38

(13-4) Denver Broncos 35

After the Ravens were forced to punt on their opening possession, this game got crazy… fast. Trindon Holliday took that punt return back 90 yards for the first score. A 59-yard pass to a streaking Torrey Smith (who was torching Champ Bailey deep most of the day) from Joe Flacco tied the game up. On Denver’s ensuing drive, a pass from Peyton Manning tipped off the hands of Eric Decker into the arms of Corey Graham, who boomeranged it to make the score 14-7 Ravens. Manning took the ball right back and marched his team 74 yards in 11 plays, ending with a pinpoint pass to old friend Brandon Stokley on the side of the endzone. 14-14. Were you still breathing at this point? A score from both teams in the second quarter kept the game tied at 21 going into halftime. And the drama did not subside in the start of a crazy NFL weekend.

Denver Head Coach John Fox will (and should) catch a lot of flak for not even attempting to try to get in field goal range with two timeouts and 20-plus seconds left on the clock. (As we would see later in the weekend, that’s not an impossible feat to accomplish.) Fox got extremely conservative in the offensive play-calling, leaning on the run too often when he had one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time on the field. (Though doesn’t Peyton have full authority to change those calls at the line? Hm.) Not going for a third down conversion late in the fourth allowed the Ravens to get the ball back with just enough time to make something happen. And they certainly did.

Continue reading "The Final Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round posted by Joe Anello

Alright everyone, it’s my favorite football weekend of the entire season! At this point we have the eight best teams left in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy, including the two greatest QB’s of our era in the AFC and a crazy Saturday night rematch in the NFC. I have stumbled out of the gates with my picks, currently standing at 1-3 after the wild card round. I owe that to every favorite covering last week and my apparently desperate need to pick against almost all of them. This week shall be different! I hope. Let’s get to The Opening Drive of the Divisional Round! (As always, point spreads are obtained from


(11-6) Baltimore Ravens at

(13-3) Denver Broncos

4:30 PM ET, CBS

This is the first of two AFC rematches that were completely one-sided in the first go-rounds. The Broncos slapped around the Ravens 34-17 in week 15, part of their 11-game winning streak to end the regular season and claim the one seed. In that game, Peyton Manning had very pedestrian numbers, but was bolstered by ground game that featured 45 carries, the most of any Manning team in his career. Their 163 yards pounded a then-short-staffed Raven defense. This game will be different, in that Baltimore is much healthier now. Ray Lewis is back, as is linebacker Danel Ellerbee. Still, the Raven corners are average at best, so they’re not going to be able to contain Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker on the outside.

Continue reading "The Opening Drive: 2013 Divisional Round"

Joe Anello

The Final Drive: Week 17, 2012 posted by Joe Anello

Oh man. The drama from week 17 in the NFL was palpable! I don’t have time to lather you up with a witty intro, so let’s get right into The Final Drive!

(10-6) Cincinnati Bengals 23

(10-6) Baltimore Ravens 17

Well the Ravens probably didn’t want to win this game. Consequently, they looked a tad disinterested. Not a lot to talk about here though. Moving on!

(6-10) Tennessee Titans 38

(2-14) Jacksonville Jaguars 20

This game had no playoff implications whatsoever, but I wanted to touch on the fact that the Titans scored FOUR touchdowns in a span of five minutes without touching the ball on offense. Darius Reynaud ran back two punts for scores while Zach Brown pick-sixed Chad Henne twice. That’s impressive as hell. But it might not be enough to save Mike Munchak’s job.

(11-5) Indianapolis Colts 28

(12-4) Houston Texans 16

Anyone else really interested in seeing how Houston performs in the playoffs? They went from almost the de facto number one seed with a bye all the way down to the three spot with what should be a tough game against the Bengals coming in round one. For the Colts, they might be emotionally peaking at the right time. It’s time for Luck to show his stuff in the postseason.

(9-7) New York Giants 42

(4-12) Philadelphia Eagles 7

It was a mighty effort against a crappy opponent, but the Giants’ losing their prior two games was too much to overcome. They’re 9-7 once again, but this season they have nothing to show for it. Maybe next year Eli. And I’ll likely be acknowledging Andy Reid’s final season/career in Philly tomorrow, when I’m writing about his dismissal. EEP!

Continue reading "The Final Drive: Week 17, 2012"

Denver Broncos News

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Shutdown Corner NFL Power Rankings: Trouble in Denver? (Shutdown Corner)

Maybe Peyton Manning needs to take a cue from Aaron Rodgers this week. Everyone might need to R-E-L-A-X on the Denver Broncos a bit.  In this violently changing NFL, it would be surprising if a team didn’t have a bad loss on their record. The Arizona Cardinals are 9-1 and even they have a 21-point loss, to Denver, on their resume (albeit when they played a decent part of that game with third-string quarterback Logan Thomas). The Broncos’ 22-7 loss to the St. Louis Rams wasn’t good. It’s quite possible we look back on it as the game that cost the Broncos a first-round bye, or the AFC West. But it’s also somewhat understandable. The Rams played well. It happens. And when the Broncos lost Emmanuel Sanders, Julius Thomas and Montee Ball during the game, it eliminated a big part of the game plan. Andre Caldwell and Jacob Tamme just can’t do the things Sanders and Thomas do. The Broncos still should probably score more than seven points, but one bad game doesn’t mean they’re not a good team. The Patriots have taken a couple bad losses. The Cardinals were blown out once. The Packers have a few uncompetitive losses. Now the Broncos have a couple, too. If the Broncos’ injuries linger longer than expected, maybe we will have to reevaluate them. And who knows, if the Kansas City Chiefs beat them in a couple weeks at Arrowhead Stadium (don’t discount that happening, with how well the Chiefs are playing), maybe the Broncos will just be one of those really good teams that has to settle for a wild-card spot. But we’ll see about all that. For right now, the Broncos are just fine, even with two losses in three games. A few teams might be playing better, but I wouldn’t rank many ahead of them. The talent on that roster is too good for them to be average. Relax. Here are the rest of the post-Week 11 NFL power rankings: 32. Oakland Raiders (0-10, Last Week: 32) Every week that Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew gets carries ahead of Latavius Murray, the Raiders are showing they don't really get it. I don't know if Murray, a big, physical second-year player, is any good. But neither do the Raiders, and that's the problem. 31. Jacksonville Jaguars (1-9, LW: 30) The Jaguars went 4-12 in Gus Bradley's first season. They'd have to go 3-3 the rest of the way to match that. I hope ownership doesn't overreact if their record is worse, because I do think Bradley is the right guy there. 30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-8, LW: 31) Mike Evans was the first rookie receiver with 200 yards and two touchdowns in a game since Anquan Boldin in 2003. Even in a potentially historic receiver draft class, Evans might be the best one. It's a debate that will be fun to track. 29. Tennessee Titans (2-8, LW: 29) We're getting pretty close to a point where Zach Mettenberger has locked up the 2015 starting quarterback job. After what he has shown, is there any chance the Titans won't use next season to give him a legitimate look? 28. New York Jets (2-8, LW: 28) Is there a number of wins in New York's last six games that Rex Ryan could hit to save his job? I'd probably put it at a minimum of four. 27. Washington Redskins (3-7, LW: 26) Jay Gruden very specifically criticizing Robert Griffin III on Monday seemed like him saying, "Nothing else is getting through, let me try this approach." 26. New York Giants (3-7, LW: 24) Sadly, the Giants probably would have won Sunday's game against the 49ers had Eli Manning thrown just four interceptions. Alas, he threw five. 25. Carolina Panthers (3-7-1, LW: 23) A team that has lost five straight is a half-game out of first place. 24. Atlanta Falcons (4-6, LW: 27) There is, by the way, a scenario in which the NFC South could be won by a 5-11 team. That's mathematically possible. In related news, I better not get one "How can you rank a first-place team so low???" emails or tweets this week. 23. Minnesota Vikings (4-6, LW: 21) Sunday's loss to the Bears was the fifth time in six games the Vikings didn't reach 20 points. And it was against the Bears, who give up 14 by the time the National Anthem is done. Lot of work to be done there. 22. Chicago Bears (4-6, LW: 25) Four of the Bears' last six games are at home. If they can win those, and upset the Lions on the road on Thanksgiving, then go into Week 17 at Minnesota with nine wins ... I'm sorry Bears fans, I don't know why I just did that to you. 21. New Orleans Saints (4-6, LW: 19) Rookie receiver Brandin Cooks wasn't dominating this season, but he was pretty good, and it's going to be very hard for the Saints to replace what he does while he's out four-to-six weeks with a broken thumb. 20. St. Louis Rams (4-6, LW: 22) They should be in so much better shape than 4-6. 19. Houston Texans (5-5, LW: 20) The first question of Bill O'Brien's Monday press conference was why Ryan Mallett didn't start before Week 11. His answer was basically that he wanted to make sure Mallett was ready. But he probably has (or will) wonder if things would be different if he pulled the trigger earlier. 18. Buffalo Bills (5-5, LW: 17) Nobody checked the expiration date on Kyle Orton. It has passed. 17. Cincinnati Bengals (6-3-1, LW: 18) How do you evaluate a team that looked so bad at home against the Browns and so good on the road at the Saints in an 11-day stretch? 16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-4, LW: 16) it just shouldn't be that hard against really bad teams. 15. Cleveland Browns (6-4, LW: 13) The good news is Josh Gordon is back. The bad news is they won't get that loss to the Texans back. They really could have used that one. 14. San Diego Chargers (6-4, LW: 15) There were a few times on Sunday when it didn't seem like Philip Rivers would be getting up. It's no surprise to hear he has been playing through injuries. 13. San Francisco 49ers (6-4, LW: 12) NaVorro Bowman as cleared to return to practice. Hopefully he makes it back this season, because that would be a great story for a great player. 12. Miami Dolphins (6-4, LW: 14) Well, if you have to play Denver this might be a good time for it. The Dolphins could use an upset like that, too. 11. Baltimore Ravens (6-4, LW: 11) In the AFC North logjam, it seems like the Ravens have the best team. They could take a huge step by winning at New Orleans next Monday night. 10. Detroit Lions (7-3, LW: 9) It's pretty clear they're heading toward a wild-card berth , but I'll say this: They're going to be a tough out in the opening weekend (unless Matthew Stafford plays like he did at Arizona, of course). 9. Seattle Seahawks (6-4, LW: 8) A lot is being made of Marshawn Lynch , like he's a reason for the Seahawks' issues. Let's think this through. Do we think Lynch debuted a new personality this year? No. And how were the Seahawks with all of Lynch's "distractions" or whatever you'd like to call them the past few years? 8. Dallas Cowboys (7-3, LW: 7) They still have four road games left, but the good news is that three come against bad teams (Giants, Bears, Redskins). 7. Indianapolis Colts (6-4, LW: 5) You can't discount Andrew Luck getting hot and carrying this team deep in the playoffs, but they're just not one of the elite teams in the conference. 6. Kansas City Chiefs (7-3, LW: 10) They beat the defending champs with 11 completions and 108 yards. Old-school football fans, this is your squad. 5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-3, LW: 3) A close loss at Lambeau would have been no big deal. But that blowout loss? Not a good look. 4. Denver Broncos (7-3, LW: 2) The running back situation is an issue. Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball are out a while. The Broncos can't just ditch the run, like they did at St. Louis. 3. Arizona Cardinals (9-1, LW: 6) Maybe Drew Stanton is just one of those stories, where his NFL history doesn't matter and he has a great season. He looked just fine against the Lions. 2. Green Bay Packers (7-3, LW: 4) I hear you Cardinals fans. But I pick Aaron Rodgers and this team over the Cardinals on a neutral field right now. Simple. 1. New England Patriots (8-2, LW: 1) The gap is pretty wide between No. 1 and No. 2 at this point. They could lose a game (and with that schedule, it's likely) and I'm not sure I'd drop them from this spot. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

Broncos share in blame, vow to get better (The Associated Press)

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -- Suddenly, the Denver Broncos have a whole lot more to worry about than their spongy offensive line, and testy coach John Fox said Monday he wants frustrated fans to know he feels their pain. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

NFL Winners and Losers: The NFC North has been decided (Shutdown Corner)

Over the course of a few hours on Sunday evening, the NFC North division title was decided.  Not mathematically. Far from that. The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are tied at 7-3, and technically the Lions are in first place because of the tiebreaker. But let’s be real. The Packers are going to win the division. Green Bay fans know it. Detroit fans probably know it too, if they’re honest with themselves.  If you watched the two teams play on Sunday, you know. The Lions have been squeaking by teams, no matter how good or bad they are, for weeks. A very good Arizona Cardinals team (we’ll talk about them in a bit, and honestly, they likely decided a second division race Sunday) didn’t allow another miracle Lions comeback. Drew Stanton threw for 306 yards for the Cardinals. Matthew Stafford was at his worst. He was 18 of 30 for 183 yards and an interception. On most plays, he either held the ball forever or was way off when he did throw it. He targeted Calvin Johnson, one of the five greatest receivers ever, 12 times and connected on only five of them. The Lions never got in the end zone. The only thing that even kept them in the game was a couple of Stanton interceptions. Detroit isn't a bad team, but it didn't look like a contender either. If you want to argue that it doesn’t matter if you win by one point or 30, fine. But it can help figure out future performance. And while the Lions were pulling out last-second wins, the Packers have been annihilating teams. The Packers scored more than 50 points for the second straight game, the first time in the long franchise history that has happened. Since losing to the Lions in Week 3, the Packers are 6-1 with five wins by at least three touchdowns. The 53-20 win against the previously 7-2 Eagles was absolutely tremendous. The Packers do look like a dominant football team, one of the true contenders in the NFL. And take a look at the Packers’ remaining schedule: at Minnesota vs. New England vs. Atlanta at Buffalo at Tampa Bay vs. Detroit A 5-1 finish seems like a worst-case scenario. That includes the inevitable win over the Lions, who haven’t won in Lambeau Field since 1991, the year before Brett Favre showed up in Green Bay. The Lions go to New England next week, and the rest of their schedule isn’t too bad before finishing at Green Bay. Maybe the division won’t be officially settled before Week 17. But you can see by watching the two teams that one is just on a different level right now. That shouldn’t change before the end of the season. Here are the rest of the winners, and the rest of the losers, from Week 11: The Cardinals’ chances of winning the NFC West: Here is Cardinals’ situation after 10 games: If they go 3-3 the rest of the season, the 49ers or Seahawks would have to go 6-0 just to tie them for the division title. In other words, they should probably keep University of Phoenix Stadium available for all January weekends. The Cardinals had an impressive home win against the Lions on Sunday. The defense kept the Lions out of the end zone. Stanton made enough plays to win. Coach Bruce Arians called the same aggressive game he always does. There was no sign the Cardinals will slow down at all without Carson Palmer, and even if they do down the road, their NFC West lead looks just about insurmountable. It was an impressive win for them. Kansas City Chiefs and the AFC West race: The Chiefs are no joke this season. They have not had one bad outcome since Week 1, and after Sunday the AFC West race is pretty interesting. The Broncos fell to 7-3 with a bad loss at St. Louis. The Chiefs beat the Seattle Seahawks 24-20 in a very entertaining game and are now tied with the Broncos at 7-3. The Chargers are lurking at 6-4 too, but for now let’s talk about the Chiefs. Winning the division isn’t out of the question. The Chiefs, who have two games left against the 0-10 Oakland Raiders, need to win at home on Nov. 30 against the Broncos. The Chiefs probably couldn’t survive a home loss to the Broncos, which would give Denver the tiebreaker, and win the division. But there’s no reason to believe the Chiefs can’t beat the Broncos at home. Andy Reid is doing a tremendous job with this team, which does two things tremendously well: rush the quarterback, and run the ball. They rode that to a very impressive win against the defending champs on Sunday. The Broncos might need to win at Arrowhead Stadium to avoid being a wild-card team. Ryan Mallett: The biggest story out of the Houston Texans’ 23-7 win over the Cleveland Browns was defensive end J.J. Watt making it clear he deserves the NFL MVP award (whether voters can see beyond the quarterback position to give it to the most deserving player will be seen). But it was also quite a day for Mallett. Mallett’s first three years in the NFL, he threw four passes, and one was intercepted. He didn’t appear in any games in 2011 or '13. He was traded by the Patriots to the Texans for the low price of a sixth-round draft pick before the season started. And after that long road to his first start, Mallett played quite well. Mallett completed 20-of-30 passes for 211 yards, a pair of touchdowns and one interception in a 23-7 win at division-leading Cleveland. One win doesn’t mean the Texans have found their quarterback of the future, but there’s time to figure that out. Mallett deserves a day to just enjoy this win. “It made the four years, the wait worth it. I couldn’t ask for a better start to my career,” Mallett said, according to the Houston Chronicle. The hilarity of Bennie Logan snapping at an official who tried helping him line up right: Sometimes, officials can give a gentle shove to a player who is lined up wrong and will get a penalty if he stays there (we saw that in a Patriots-Jets game earlier this season ). The Eagles’ Bennie Logan was lined up illegally on a field-goal attempt. The official tried to move him, to help him out. And Logan was NOT happy about it. This was comedy: LOSERS The two good NFC teams who will sit at home while the NFC South hosts a playoff game: You want to hear something that sums up the worst division in football? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers got their second win of the season on Sunday, in the 11th week of the season. That puts them only two games off the division lead. It’s true. The Atlanta Falcons lead it at 4-6, and they are 0-6 outside the division. The New Orleans Saints, who can’t even win at home anymore, are 4-6 too (the Falcons have the tiebreaker) after getting dominated in the Superdome by the Bengals. The Carolina Panthers check in at 3-7-1, and then comes Tampa Bay at 2-8. I’m not saying Tampa Bay can rip off enough wins to overcome a two-game deficit (and they can’t win the tiebreaker over anyone), but the fact that I’m typing this sentence about a 2-8 team is an indictment of the entire division. Here’s the crime: The NFC South doesn’t deserve a playoff spot, but will get one at the expense of a really good team. There are seven teams in the other three divisions with at least six wins: Philadelphia, Dallas, Detroit, Green Bay, Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle. At least two of those teams are missing the playoffs. Unless we can petition the NFL to not recognize the South champ this year. St. Louis Rams … not for Sunday but for being 4-6: To answer all Rams fans' gripes now – the Rams played great in a 22-7 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, they had a phenomenal effort against Peyton Manning, the offense played well enough, Tre Mason looks like a good find at running back, (fill in the blank praise for everything else they did well). This is my problem. The Rams have defeated Seattle, San Francisco and Denver, arguably the three best teams in the NFL at the end of last season. How on earth are they so inconsistent that they’re 1-6 in the rest of their games? We shouldn’t be talking about the Rams having to win out to make the playoffs after beating those three teams. It must be maddening for Rams fans that a very talented roster like St. Louis has can show off every bit of that talent in dominating the Broncos (make no mistake, the Rams looked like the better team from beginning to end) and still is 4-6, has a season point differential of minus-73 and needs a miracle to even end up as a legitimate playoff contender in December. So yes, great job by the Rams on Sunday. One of the best 60-minute performances in the NFL this season. The Rams can feel good about that, as long as they also feel really disappointed that a team capable of that performance is two games under .500. Bad Eli: Eli Manning has been a part of two Super Bowl championship teams, but he’ll have some days when you’re reminded why that won’t be enough to get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His five-interception day against San Francisco, in a game the Giants could have won with a C-minus performance at quarterback was one of them. Washington Redskins: Quarterback Robert Griffin III called Sunday’s loss a “travesty.” Coach Jay Gruden said it was “horrific.” This is a low point for Washington. A 27-7 home loss to a wretched Buccaneers team, which was 1-8 coming in, has to make the franchise question everything. Washington is 3-7, going nowhere and is there even room for optimism? The Buccaneers are terrible, but at least they can point to stud rookie receiver Mike Evans (209 yards and two touchdowns) and be excited about that. What is there to be excited about in Washington? At best, any hope left about Griffin comes with a lot of nervous concern about if he'll ever be the same player he was as a rookie. There’s not a lot to get truly excited about elsewhere on the roster. Travesty? Horrific? That sums it up. - - - - - - - Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab [read full article]

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Rams surprise Manning, Broncos 22-7 (Yahoo Sports)

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Greg Cosell's Look Ahead: What will Patriots do against Andrew Luck? (Shutdown Corner)

One challenge I have looking ahead to the weekend's games is when New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick comes up. Because trying to predict what Belichick will do each week is nearly impossible. Belichick changes things up constantly. He rarely is predictable. Like in the Denver Broncos game, if you’d have said the Patriots would use safety Patrick Chung on Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, you’d have said, ‘That’s not a good matchup.”But it worked out great. Belichick does things and you say, “Wow, really?”There’s no way to know what he’ll do. And it’s an even bigger challenge for the Indianapolis Colts to figure out this week, as they prepare to face the Patriots on Sunday night. But we do know that Belichick has given Andrew Luck some problems in two previous meetings. Luck has thrown seven interceptions in two games against New England. The Patriots have won both games. We can take a look back at last season’s divisional round playoff game for clues. It was evident early the Patriots’approach was based more on coverage than pressure. They didn’t blitz much. They played a lot of man coverage, and specifically “man free lurk”with a lurking defender in the middle. The Patriots have run a lot of man coverage since Brandon Browner came back, so maybe they’ll have a similar approach this game. The Patriots are masterful at disguising coverage, and they did so against Luck last season. The Patriots are able to confuse anyone –they did so on a Peyton Manning interception to Rob Ninkovich a couple weeks ago –and they could do the same to Luck on Sunday night. They’ll try to create problems for Luck. One wild card matchup is T.Y. Hilton. He’s a fast, agile receiver so he’s a bad matchup for Browner. In that playoff game last season the Patriots moved Aqib Talib around to match up with Hilton. Will Darrelle Revis do that Sunday? Maybe, although Revis doesn’t generally travel on each play. On the Colts side, one thing that I wonder about when I watch film of them is if they pass too much. They didn’t try to run the ball at all against the New York Giants two weeks ago. The running game was irrelevant. That means that Luck gets hit a lot, and makes throws under duress (which sometimes causes him to be a bit inaccurate). He makes a lot of those throws, but it becomes harder. The Colts’offensive line isn’t good enough to sustain that style of play. So Luck takes a lot of hits. You want to be careful with that. It should be a great game between the Colts and Patriots. It’ll also be interesting to see how Belichick approaches defending Luck, because he’s usually impossible to predict. Stanton’s time The Cardinals will be without Carson Palmer the rest of the season, and he gets a bad rap. He throws it well and was having a good season. But now he’s done for the year with an ACL injury, and Drew Stanton takes over as their starter beginning Sunday against a really good Detroit Lions defense. We’ve seen Stanton play some this season, and he has played well. He knew where to go with the ball. He didn’t make mental mistakes. One concern is that he can be erratic with ball placement, and this offense demands precise ball placement. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians is not going to scale it back. The obvious example of this was the 48-yard go-ahead touchdown by John Brown. That was a shot play not long after Stanton entered, a post-corner combination to the field side with Brown to the post and Larry Fitzgerald running the corner route from the slot. It was play action with seven-man protection to let the routes develop. Stanton was forced to step up quickly in the pocket, then made a gutsy throw that had to beat single-high Rams safety Rodney McLeod. It was a great play. The more Stanton plays, the more teams will game plan for him, and is he going to make those throws with consistency? I’m curious to see what his accuracy will be like going forward, and how good his decision-making will be. There are a lot of decisions to be made in this offense. Sanchez shines There are two parts to Mark Sanchez’s performance this past Monday night, as he prepares to go into Green Bay to face the Packers on Sunday. First, Sanchez looked sharp. He has much quicker feet with more quick twitch and a faster delivery than Nick Foles, physical traits that better fit Chip Kelly’s offense. He showed excellent pocket movement right from the start. He has light athletic feet and comfortable movement. He was not frenetic at all. One thing the Eagles get with Sanchez is more a more effective bootleg play-action game, and Kelly utilized it. The other part of it is that, by NFL standards, it was a pretty easy game for Sanchez. The Panthers have almost no pass rush and one of the worst secondaries in the NFL from a talent standpoint. That’s a bad combination, of course. I believe Sanchez was hit only once against the Panthers. He’ll have a harder time against the Packers on Sunday. But Sanchez does bring a different look to the Eagles offense. - - - - - - - NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell watches as much NFL game film as anyone. Throughout the season, Cosell will join Shutdown Corner to share his observations on the teams, schemes and personnel from around the league . [read full article]

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