Greatest Week in Sports….History?


Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration for the upcoming sporting events this weekend. It might even be way over the top but this may be the most jam packed few days in my sports filled life.

The weeks of the NFL Divisional and Conference Playoffs are in the conversation each and every year but that’s still only one sport (albeit the most popular one). This first weekend of May isn’t about just one sport but rather seven from all over the world.

Clear your schedules and buy some beer because this week is going to be a doozy!

Major League Baseball

Let’s start with the MLB:

The sport of baseball has been around for nearly 150 years. It’s one of the oldest andorioles_06mr2zj6_j0zw50pk most traditional sports you will find in the world and the amount of games played throughout the years would have you thinking you’ll never see something you’ve never seen before. Baseball somehow continues to surprise us with with new, unusual happenings and there’s one today that may be the strangest seen in many seasons.

Everyone knows at this point what’s going on in Baltimore. Nevermind your stance or opinion on the situation, the entire thing is unfortunate and bizarre. It’s rare to see a game affected by outside circumstances but due to the rioting and danger outside the gates of Camden Yards, the police advised the team to not risk further issues with a large crowd. The team decided that they wouldn’t delay the game against the Chicago White Sox but rather would do something that has NEVER been done in the history of the sport. There will be no crowd. There will be no fans. There will not be one single spectator outside of the media. Bizarre. No one knows what to expect and as it’s a free game on MLB T.V, everyone should check it out and watch this little bit of history. (Prayers and thoughts for Baltimore in this tough time)

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry is surely not what it once was. The fire isn’t there, the fighting isn’t there and the once inevitable drama has disappeared. Still, it’s the biggest rivalry by name in the sport and that makes it something worth watching. The 2015 baseball season is still in it’s infancy but there are plenty of worthwhile games and match ups to check out this week.

As a Colorado Rockies fan, I have to mention that they play the Chicago Cubs at home this weekend and both teams have a lot of youth, talent and upside. The Cubs especially have a young team that’s as exciting to watch as any group in baseball. Both teams are trying to keep pace in their Divisions early on and it should be a fun series to watch whether you’re a Rockies or Cubs fan or not.

The 2015 baseball season is still in it’s infancy but there are plenty of worthwhile games and match ups to check out this week.

Baseball, however, is by far the least interesting sport of the week. Think of it as a filler during the commercials of the other fantastic programming.

National Basketball Association

635647986734002319-USP-NBA-LOS-ANGELES-CLIPPERS-AT-SAN-ANTONIO-SPURS-70482322The playoffs are a bit up in the air at the moment for what games will be played this weekend. Depending on what teams move forward from the first round or whether teams can keep their respective series alive.

Friday you could see game six of the Memphis Grizzlies and Portland Trailblazers but as Memphis leads the series 3-1 the Blazers need to win on Tuesday to get to game six. There will be a game six between the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks as that series is currently tied 2-2.

Needless to say there will be excitement and attention payed to these playoff match ups and it should be a full week of awesomesauce from the National Basketball Association. Spurs/Clippers should be really good and if they go to game seven it’ll be insane and must watch! Definitely some games to tune in for this week…if you have time.

National Hockey League

Then there is maybe the greatest playoffs in sports each and every year…the NHL post Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals - Game Twoseason.

Does it even matter who the teams are in the playoffs for the National Hockey League? Every game gets you on the edge of your seat, every period has that explosive energy and every goal is just lights out crazy. If you aren’t already watching the playoffs….get with it and start NOW!

In the second round of the playoffs you’ll see the Montreal Canadiens, the Washington Capitols, New York Rangers, Anaheim Ducks and obviously more.

I’m going to admit sadly that the NHL is the sport I know the least but I would still sit and watch a random playoff game rather than an NBA playoff game where I know and understand the game and teams much better. Just turn on the game sound in the background and you can feel the energy that is unmatched in ANY other playoffs.

UEFA Champions League

UEFA-Champions-League-2015Futbol..football..soccer…the world sport may actually have the biggest event of all this week. Though here in the U.S there are relatively few who will give a care. This week is the semi-finals for the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) which is taking place in Spain and Italy.

Three of the top teams in the world are involved in these two games and it should be some of the best soccer action we see all year. Real Madrid squares off against Juventus (from Italy) while Barcelona matches up against Bayern Munich.

These teams put some of the greatest sports stars in the world on the field and that in itself should be a must watch. Christiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger are just a few of the names that will play in these matches. I’m no soccer guru but I know all of them as household names and four of the best teams in the world in on semi-final has to equal greatness. Right? We will find out next week. The games are on March 5th (Read Madrid at Juventus 8:00 pm ET) and March 6th (Bayern Munich at Barcelona 8:00 pm ET)

Fortunately they are on relatively slow nights for the next week and they are an absolute must watch for any true sports fan whether you like the sport or not. (I’m pulling for Bayern since my girlfriend is from Germany….though she hates Bayern….)

National Football League – Draft

So far we haven’t even touched on the event from the most popular sport in the Unitednfl-2014-nfl-draft25 States. Though it’s a highly overrated and not incredibly entertaining watch, the NFL draft is an immensely important few days for any die hard football fans. The future of every team could be changed for better or worse by each and every pick of the draft. The lives of these young men hang in the balance and the human drama is part of the huge draw of the goings on.

Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston and a few hundred names that only a handful of people know will have their fortune made or lost in just a few hours. ESPN has the complete coverage and at very least the first round on Thursday night is a must watch event of the year. Fans for every team in the league have something at stake and there’s just something about the nonstop coverage that’s addicting.  Coverage on the four letter network starts at maybe 11am but you won’t see a draft pick on Thursday until maybe 9:00pm ET. It’s a slow process and can get dry at times but still it’s one of those things that everyone will stop and watch and it’s maybe the most anticipated event of every Spring.

The Kentucky Derby

P5010190Of course on May 2nd we have the greatest two minutes in sports. The king of buildups and anticipation, culture and tradition, the Kentucky Derby.

Let’s be honest, horse racing is not hugely popular in America. In some circles and maybe in some states it’s bigger than others, but in general most folks couldn’t name a single horse in a single race of the year. That is until the Derby. One day of the year millions of people throughout the country are race fans and horses with crazy names have a chance to become part of legend. It’s an old sport, an old event and the tradition is unlike any other. The only comparison perhaps could be The Masters in Augusta as the first major golf tournament of the year. Still, it’s a day that stands by it’s own in terms of what it offers. Besides, who doesn’t like putting a few bucks on a horse named “Woah, Shut Up!”. Ha…..

Boxing – Mayweather/Pacquiao

Finally, the one event that I think puts this week into the discussion of greatest of all time. i6731_20140917223441The welterweight fight that folks have waited on for far too long is finally, finally here.

The fight that should have taken place five or even ten years ago has arrived and it should be good and could be great. Sure, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr are getting older ( 36 and 38 respectively) but it’s the most anticipated fight that I can remember. Since I was born in 1989, I haven’t gotten to experience many of the great boxing matches. The days of Frazier and Ali, Tyson and Holyfield are over and it’s been quite a while since an fight has had anticipation of any kind.

The drama before the fight has been nothing short of epic and drawn out for way too long. The accusations of drug usage, delay after delay after delay and finally the long awaited contract have made this a must watch over any other. So much so, the pay-per-view is costing each bar that chooses to purchase it, $30 per person. That’s per person that can POSSIBLY fit in the bar per fire code regulations and not just per person that shows up. A bit much? No doubt that some bars are still buying the package and will be packed beyond anything they’ve ever seen.

Like the Kentucky Derby this is a night that if you’re a boxing fan or if you’ve never seen a match in your life, you just must watch. It could possibly be the last great fight we see in ten years  because the sport is just simply not in good shape. There are no newcomers that have the household names of Mayweather and Pacquiao and it could be years and years before we see another match up like this one. Watch it if you can, enjoy it for what it is and appreciate that you may never again see another fight with the hype that this one has.

Wrap up

We’ve gone through seven of the biggest sports in the world and they all have some of their largest events THIS week. Baseball craziness, NHL and NBA Playoffs, NFL Draft, European Soccer Championship matches, The Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather/Pacquiao fight make this an absolutely insane week of sports.

If you can name a week that you can remember a week of anytime of any year that has more going on in the world of sports than this one, I’d love to hear it.

Whether agree or not that it’s the greatest week ever, sit back, relax, pack your fridge and get ready for one heck of a week of sports.

Leadership is the Key for the Denver Nuggets


2009NHLTeamsofDecade_btb_mainBelieve it or not, including all  four of the major sports in the Mile High City, the last championship trophy was lifted way back in 2001 (Avalanche Stanley Cup). Not a good number for a city that prides itself as a “sports town”.  It’s been almost fifteen years since any of the Denver teams have been world champions in anything other than soccer and fans are starting to get impatient.

For comparison, the city of Boston has nine championships since the year 2000. NINE! The Patriots have won four Super Bowls, The Red Sox have three World Series titles, and the Celtics and Bruins have one first place finish each to their names.
Most Denver sports fans don’t want to hear anything about New England teams and their success (many of their championships have at one point or another caused heartbreak here) but it’s a good comparison. Same amount of time, same (ish) amount of money and a relatively level playing field in all four sports. So…..
What does Boston have that Denver doesn’t?
What has put their sports teams head and shoulders above ours in terms of success?
Why do the Broncos, Rockies, Avalanche and Nuggets never seem to have the ‘IT” factor? Or at least not enough to win the biggest of games…
Some may say it’s all coincidence. Others will point out that it’s due to New England being on the East Coast and the city of Boston drawing more star players than our beloved “cow town”. Maybe, in some cases (Red Sox) it’s just simply about one team having more money that the other. All are likely factors but there’s another piece to the puzzle that is more important than money, location or luck.
Leadership.
“Leadership is severely, severely undervalued in sports and if you can find good leaders you’ve got to keep them.” – Chauncey Billups
The Patriots have Belicheat, Doc Rivers was with the Celtics and Francona and Theo Epstein for the Red Sox were all a huge part of the winning in the New England area since the turn of the century. You can also add in players like Tom Brady, Big Papi, Manny Ramirez Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to the list of factors, but attitude and leadership start at the top of any organization.
Denver Broncos vice-president John Elway explains his reaction to receiving the call from new quarterback Peyton Manning informing him of his decision to sign with the Broncos in EnglewoodThe Broncos saw a clear lack in leadership since John Elway’s playing days and knew that the one guy who could bring them back to winning ways was in fact, number seven himself, John Elway. The team sadly hasn’t won a Super Bowl (still too soon to talk about) but they have been headed in the right direction and hopefully will at least go out with a bang in Peyton Manning’s last year or two in the NFL.
The Avalanche did much the same as the Broncos in terms of changing their culture. They wanted a change in the top of their organization and decided to go with two heroes from the past to get the job done. Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy came to town and in one season turned the team into a playoff contender. Sadly, we know what happened from there and the first round playoff loss followed by this season of disappointment hasn’t left a great first impression of the new top dogs. Fortunately though, there is still a trustworthy duo of leadership atop the organization that gives Avs’ fans hope for the future of their team.
The Rockies….well they have a new GM in Jeff Bridich but it’s way too early to bring down any judgement on him or the new regime. They’re off to a hot start in 2015 but let’s hold our horses on the Rox and talk about them in a few months.
Finally I’ve come to the long awaited point of this post. The Denver Nuggets.

The Nuggets for a large portion of the last decade were led by head coach George Karl

nuggets-celtics

(Elise Amendola, The Associated Press)

and his 2003 lottery pick from Syracuse, Carmelo Anthony. The pair never missed the playoffs but in the eight years they were together they made it past the opening round only once (2009 season). The success in 2009 was in large part due to the veteran point guard they had acquired in trade the year before with the Detroit Pistons. The home town kid, the 2004 NBA champion, “Mr Big Shot”, Chauncey Billups.

The closest to total victory the team had gotten in decades wasn’t when they traded for superstar, Allen Iverson or when they drafted a young College phenom in Anthony but rather when they picked up an aging point guard who had been labeled as the best player on a starless team after the 2004 championship. The old man on the team brought a new feeling of leadership and a calm, sensible voice in the locker room. A presence on and off the floor who earned instant respect and admiration from his teammates by his work ethic and personality, Billups was a breath of fresh air in Denver.
Washington Wizards v/s Denver Nuggets January 25, 2011Unfortunately for the folks in Denver, the fan favorite was unceremoniously traded to the Knicks along with Carmelo Anthony for Danilo Gallinari and a handful of other semi-decent players. The trade drastically changed the makeup of the team and though they made the playoffs the next several years, the high pace, high energy team never made it past the first round of the playoffs. George Karl was fired, Brian Shaw was hired and  the team quickly became the laughing stock of the NBA.
Shaw was fired after an embarrassing few months (or longer…I try to forget) and the hapless Nuggets finished the season 30-52 at the bottom of their Division. Melvin Hunt showed some grit and personality as the interim head coach but the the Denver basketball team seems to float now, completely rudderless, captainless and planless.
“When you’ve fallen like they’ve fallen, you need to take baby steps on your way to getting better.” – Chauncey Billups
Rumor has it that Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried and anyone NOT named Nurkic could be headed to the trading block this off season and no one really has a guess as to who will be the next head coach.
No coach, no direction and no stars is not where this once proud franchise wants to be. It’s a team that needs a face of the franchise, a name that players, coaches and fans can trust. The Denver Nuggets need their version of John Elway or Joe Sakic and the answer may be right in front of them.
“They’ve got some personnel decisions, some coaching decisions, some critical decisions that they have to make and I can tell you one thing, that Western Conference isn’t getting any worse.” – Chauncey Billups
The answer seems obvious to at least one casual observer. If the Nuggets want to regainimages success, respectability and leadership, they should look no further than THE hometown Denver hero, Chancey Billups.
All of Chauncey Billup’s quotes were taken from an interview on KKFN 104.3 the Fan in Denver, earlier this month.

Does Draft Round Matter for Quarterbacks – A Statistical Adventure


By the Caveman

The 2015 NFL Draft is nearly upon us. As is the norm in our quarterback-driven NFL, theJameis - Copy bad teams are looking to get a pigskin-flinger in the first round, while the adeptly-helmed teams discuss late-round QB picks to develop.

But is one approach better than the other? Much is made of Tom Brady being a lowly 6th-round pick with 4 Super Bowl victories to his name. And it seems that every year, multiple first round picks are busts for the desperate teams that draft them. My draft question (this is especially appropriate for the Denver Broncos and their soon-to-be void at QB): is it generally more successful to get early round or late-round/undrafted QB’s?

I started by ranking the QB’s who had significant playing time in 2014 (1,500+ yards passing…sorry, Johnny Manziel). I used QBR to rank them. I then plotted the draft round of each of those QB’s versus their ranking. If there was any statistical correlation between draft round and QB success in 2014, it would show up on the plot as a trend.

One note on the below plot: a point in the “8th round” simply means undrafted…it was the only easy way to manipulate the data in Excel.

graph1

The easiest way to read this graph is to start on the x-axis, from left to right. The best statistical QB in 2014 (Tony Romo of all people) is #1. He was undrafted, so he’s at 8 on the y-axis. The second-best was Aaron Rodgers: he’s #2 on the x-axis, and he’s a first-rounder on the y-axis. Etc., etc.

At first glance, it looks like there might be a slight trend – a lot of the best QB’s in 2014 were 1st round picks. Then the math started happening. The R2 value is a measure of how well a trend line fits to a data set. If the R2 value is 0, there is absolutely no correlation. If it is 1, there is perfect correlation. In this case, R2 = 0.0038…which means there is no correlation whatsoever. My takeaways from this:

  1. There is no correlation between QB performance and round drafted for starting QB’s.
  2. Over 50% of the starting QB’s in 2014 were first round draft picks.
  • This suggests that my initial approach was misplaced – my data doesn’t take into account all of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. round picks that aren’t good enough to start in the first place.

So, did I just waste all your time and mine? Not so fast – this “worthless” data actually tells us something. We either need to take into account all of the QB’s drafted who don’t start, or we need to narrow the data down to a more specific set with fewer variables.

Because it’s less work, I of course chose the latter.

What is a simple way in which to determine the worth of a QB? If we could just take one measurable and apply it to QB’s by draft round, what would that be? All die-hard football fans will agree with me on the most important valuation: Super Bowl victories.

A simple plot of the last 10 Super Bowl winning QB’s by the round in which they were drafted looks like this:

graph2

Boom. 7 out of the past 10 Super Bowls were won by 1st round QB’s. Obviously, there’s something to be said for the evaluation of scouts and teams who take these guys with their first pick in the draft. Maybe the NFL Draft is a bit more than a crapshoot after all!

That’s all I have for now. This whole post is very much me thinking out loud. I would apologize for wasting your time, but really – did you have anything better to do?

Stats Don’t Lie – The Broncos Will Crush the Colts!


By the Caveman

PFMOur Denver Broncos are playing the Indianapolis Colts this Sunday. The winner will move on and either take a trip to New England or host what would be a red-hot Baltimore team. The general consensus in the media is that the Broncos will win, and why not? They’re at home, they’re coming off a bye week, and have a great team (as opposed to the Colts, who have exactly one great player).

But that’s all qualitative. Let’s dig into some numbers.

Luck has been touted as one of the best statistical QB’s this season, throwing up “Star Wars” numbers. But guess what? Manning (who has been “slumping” this year) has only 1 fewer TD pass, 1 fewer INT, and 34 fewer yards. Basically, the two QB’s have nearly exactly the same statistics – yet Luck is a prodigy, and Manning is an old man. Fly under the radar, Peyton.

Brady ManningThat’s just regular season anyway. How about this: Manning’s career playoff passer rating is 89.2. Luck? He’s at 78.9. By the way, keep in mind that Tom Brady’s is 87.5 (lower than Manning’s)…so don’t give me the Brady’s a better playoff QB crap. Back to Luck – if you were starting a team from scratch, you’d absolutely take Luck over Manning, because Luck gives you another 10-15 years of quarterbacking. But right now, in Sunday’s game? Give me Manning all day.

Enough of the QB comparisons – they’re both good, and probably cancel each out in the big picture. What about the rest of the team?

This is where Indy fans can start sweating. Denver fans, you think we have a bad O-line? You ain’t seen nothing. The Colts’ have given up 27 sacks to the Broncos’ 17. Their rushing attack is even worse. The Colts (not counting Luck’s pocket-collapsing scrambles) have rushed for 1,339 yards and 6 TD’s. For reference, the Broncos have 1,785 yards for 15 TD’s…and that’s squarely average in the NFL.

But wait! There’s more! Defensively, the Colts are 11th best in the NFL (in yards allowedJulius anyway). Not bad, but they’re matching up against the #3 ranked defense of Denver. One of the interesting stats by which defensive secondaries are judged: pass yards per attempt. The Broncos are solidly best in the NFL, allowing only 6 yards per attempt. Yep, that’s better than the Seahawks. Good luck, Luck. Add to that the fact that Indianapolis has turned the ball over 31 times this season, which is 3rd worst in the NFL. Turnovers alone lose more playoff games in the NFL than any other statistic.

After all of that, the factor that seals the impending doom of the Colts is good old Mile High. Playing at home, the Broncos are 8-0 this season. The Colts are 5-3 on the road, and their 5 wins came against teams with a combined record of 27-53 (a 0.338 pct).

LuckBe afraid, Indianapolis. You will need luck to have a chance in this game. But Luck will not save you.

What I Took Away From the Broncos Whooping the Raiders


I was fortunate enough to be at the Broncos final “game” of the season against the644 Oakland Raiders this last Sunday and though it was only one game and against a TERRIBLE team, there was plenty to take away from watching in person rather than on T.V.

First off, the Raiders are really, really, horribly, pathetically terrible. They are a sad excuse for a football team that gave up on the game before it even started and they didn’t belong on the same field as the Broncos. That said, I think they actually have some pieces to build on and in the not so near future could be a solid team. Derek Carr could be a good QB and Latavious Murray has all the features of a future NFL star.

Anyway, who cares? They’re season is long over and the word hope doesn’t even belong in the Oakland Raider vocabulary. The Broncos on the other hand are headed to a first round bye for the third straight year and have the playoffs and a championship to hope for.

642After losing to the Cincinnati Bengals in week 16, and causing a mad panic across Bronco nation, the team did exactly what they had to do…they destroyed the Raiders. Peyton Manning followed up his three interception game with zero picks and over 300 passing yards against the Raiders. Though he didn’t have a passing touchdown, he didn’t need to with three rushing TDs from my new co-favorite Bronco, CJ Anderson. The defense was also a big part the the 47-14 butt whooping and the biggest plus was, besides two concussions (Orlando Franklin and David Bruton) the Broncos didn’t suffer any other injuries. Fortunate because the list of hurt Broncos was starting to get ridiculous. This bye week couldn’t come at a better time.

Speaking of bye weeks how ridiculously stupid is it for the NFL to have a bye week as early as week three. They preach and preach about player safety yet a team has to go 14 weeks without a break including four games in a 17 day stretch. Well done as always.

As for what else I saw on the field from my fantastic South Stand seats (thanks to John Murray and JAMMIN’ DJs) I’ll try to list them in a way that at least somewhat makes sense but I tend to ramble. Stay with me either way.

The guy who stuck out immediately and all game long was a young Defensive Lineman638 that is far from a household name. The guy that’s been better than Demarcus Ware for at least the last half of the season and got a huge +15.4 rating from Pro Football Focus………Malik Jackson! #97 seemed to be a part of every big play on defense and each time the Broncos were in the Raider backfield, Malik was nearly always there.  The big man has a huge upside and I think he could even be a future superstar in the league alongside Von Miller. (Miller btw had something like a +50 from PFF…insane!).

The other guy on defense who impressed but not surprisingly was Chris Harris JR. The guy just doesn’t give up big plays…EVER…and has some of the best foot and hip work I’ve ever seen at CB. The fact that he plays as well in the slot as he does on the outside (either side) is what’s incredibly impressive. PFF has Chris Harris Jr as the #1 ranked CB in football and it’s not even that close. So, move over Richard Sherman and shut your mouth because the Broncos have the best defensive back in the big leagues!

The bad on defense was fairly hard to find against a team like Oakland but it was there. Steven Johnson may be a good special teams player but he is a horrible, I repeat, HORRIBLE cover linebacker. The guy clearly doesn’t belong on the field and that was made very clear against the Bengals. Thank goodness Brandon Marshall will be back by the Divisional round next week and we shouldn’t have to see Johnson outside of special teams.

The offense made things look easy against the faiders and a few guys stuck out. Demaryious Thomas as always, showed why he’s an All American receiver and just looks like a man among boys out there. He just seems so much bigger and stronger than the DBs he faces and add top notch speed and great hands to that mix and he’s a top three receiver in all of football. IMHO.

Emmanuel Sanders is the SHI*! Dude plays hurt, plays with heart and plays 100% on every play. He seemed to be open on nearly every play and even after taking big hits (which seemed to happen a lot) he would pop up with a big smile and run back to the huddle. If there was a better free agent pickup in the offseason I have no idea who it was and this guy could be one of the keys to a third championship parade in Denver.

CJ Anderson has come from third string undrafted free agent status to being the main keg in the wheel that runs the Broncos success. He was even banged up and still busting moves and making fools out on the field on Sunday. He’s done it big ever since he’s had the opportunity and if the Broncos are going to win the Lombardi Trophy, he will have to continue his dominance in the backfield and be the ‘Terrell Davis’ that Manning has never had in the post season.

To sum up, I think this team isn’t as bad as they looked two weeks ago and not as good as they looked this last week. If their defense and running game can continue to do what they’ve shown their capable of and turn PFM into a third down and red zone QB, they could go all the way.  They will need some stars to show up and some unknowns to play out of their minds to move onto the Conference Championship.

688Does it matter who the Broncos play in the Divisional round?  If this team plays half as well as they’re capable of it won’t matter who they play.

Predicting a Broncos – Seahawks rematch!

UNITED IN ORANGE!

This Broncos Team is Great. Here’s why:


By the Caveman

There’s so much to say about this 2014 Broncos team. So many thoughts popped into my head when writing this piece, there was no logical way to get them all down in a nicely-flowing compilation. Therefore, I’m just going to throw down a bunch of bullet points and conclude as best as possible.

ChargersDivisional Play:
The Broncos have won 4 straight division titles. That’s amazing. If that’s not dominance, I don’t know what is.
Remember that this was done in a very good division – 3 AFC West teams made the playoffs last year, and 3 are still in contention this year.
The Broncos have won 12 straight division road games. Only the late ‘80’s Niners have done that in the history of the NFL.
John Fox has to get a lot of credit for divisional success. He’s been winning the AFC West with both Tebow and Manning, two radically different QB’s. And he had the same studly divisional track record from his Carolina days.
The Broncos have a solid lead in all-time AFC West championships with 14. The Raiders are next with 12…and it doesn’t look like they’ll ever get to 13, let alone threaten to take the historical lead anytime soon. Orange Pride!!!

The New-Look Broncos:
Many are worried about our offense, thinking that the high-flying, 400 yards passing perNFL: Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos game days are over. I say: good!
We got the name “Denver Broncos” into all the offensive history books last year. Now we’re done with stats, and it’s time to get some rings.
It’s not like the new offense is low-scoring either: Denver is the 5th highest scoring team in the league!
I love this stat: before the Rams game (high-flying Broncos) – 2.5 points per drive average; after the Rams game (ground and pound Broncos) – 2.9 points per drive average.
This offense is actually better than the old one.
Combine that with a defense ranked 4th overall, and getting better every week.
Manning’s still getting his stats: he just reached 4,000 yards passing for the 14th time in his career. No one else in the history of the NFL is even close to that number of times.

The Chargers Game:
Harris JrHere’s a list of things that were against the Broncos last week (causing myself and many others to predict a Chargers win):
The game was on the road.
The Chargers just came off a tough loss.
The Chargers needed to win this game much more than the Broncos did.
Denver was banged up, both before the game and during the course of the game.
Peyton Manning was very sick (to the point of needing IV’s).
But what happened? The Broncos DOMINATED the Chargers even with all the issues they had.
The Denver defense (with the help of Nick Novak doing his best Brandon McManus impression) held the Chargers to 3 points until the 4th quarter. If Fox/Del Rio hadn’t gone to prevent defense, you better believe that the Chargers wouldn’t have scored that pity touchdown.
If the defensive play-calling were aggressive for the entire game, every game, this D would be every bit as good as Seattle’s. I’m not exaggerating there. It’s almost like Fox is doing statistical sandbagging.
The Chargers’ D is very good. But the Broncos’ offense pulled a Grond and just beat on it until the gate couldn’t hold any longer.
(BTW, who is tougher, has more fire, and is more all-around amazing: CJ Anderson or Emmanuel Sanders? You’re stumped. Or you’d better be.)
The Broncos won a road divisional game by being more physical than a tough, desperate team. That’s a trait common to most Super Bowl teams.

Looking Back, Going Forward:
John Elway couldn’t do it all on his own. He needed a hungry defense and a studly runningSP30BRONCOSRAIDERS_JA11770 game.
Same goes for PFM.
The ’97 Super Bowl team was gritty, won ugly, and went all the way.
John Elway’s stats in Super Bowl XXXII: 12 for 22 passing, 123 yards, 0 TD’s and 1 INT.
Look familiar to what Manning’s been posting lately?
Terrell Davis’ stats in Super Bowl XXXII: 30 carries, 157 yards, and 3 TD’s.
Look familiar to what CJ Anderson’s been doing lately?
The last three teams to win the Super Bowl are: Seattle, Baltimore, and the New York Giants. What traits did those teams all have in common?

In conclusion, don’t whine. Rejoice! The Broncos are a home win against the Raiders away from sweeping the division…for the 2nd time in the last 3 years. The sudden but impressive shift to being a power-running, defense-first team is exactly what the Broncos needed. You know that the Manning, Thomas, Thomas, Welker, Sanders magic isn’t gone – it’s just dormant. If the Broncos run into a foe that stacks the box and sells out to stop the run, then we’ll see another 5-TD performance from the Maestro.

BradyIf the Broncos run into the Seahawks again in the Super Bowl and can only score 15 points, this defense will be able to hold Seattle to 10. That’s the beauty of it all – the Broncos can win however they need to. And they’re 5 wins away from bringing a 3rd Lombardi to Denver. Yes, we may have to face old demons by playing in Foxboro and meeting up with the Thugs from ‘Theattle. But I think that’s not only doable, it will be good for the Broncos. It will show all doubters, including (perhaps especially) Denver fans themselves, that the 2014 Orange Crush is the best in the world.