Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 is Winding Down

So, there is this dirty rumor that there might be some actual snowfall today around the Denver area.  I’ll believe it when I see it......Lots to get to!

UP HIGH!

5. To say that the Denver Nuggets entered last night’s game in Minnesota a bit short-handed would be an understatement.  Out still was Carmelo Anthony and Al Harrington, who were joined by Kenyon Martin (2nd  half of a back-to-back) and Nene (a few nagging issues).  Eight uniformed players, however, were enough to take down the Timberwolves, 119-113.  Continuing his hot scoring streak, Chauncey Billups poured in 36, which included some big threes late in the 4th quarter.  Things were so dire for Coach George Karl, that even Renaldo Balkman played a huge role getting some easy transition baskets during a key 3rd quarter run.  Oddly enough, the Nuggets trailed at every key juncture of this game, but used a 12-0 run in the 4th (!) to take control on the scoreboard.  The TWolves were again, limited to just the stellar play of Michael Beasley (33 points) and Kevin Love (26/14), but got little help elsewhere.  At least defensively, as this game was not one to be used as a case-study on playing defense in the game of basketball.

4. 30 points and 12 rebounds by Blake Griffin was enough for his 20th straight double-double, but not enough for his LA Clippers to overcome the Northwest Division-leading Utah Jazz.  Blake’s averages continue to trend upwards and now after 30 professional games (30 starts) he sits at 21.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and an impressive 3-plus assists a game.  It would be wrong of me to not include some of his exploits from last night.



3. After a couple weeks of dormancy, NCAA basketball is really gearing up.  Notre Dame was the big winner last night with their impressive win over a very strong team from Georgetown.  A close game was blown open in the second half with a strong mix of balance and inside-outside ball movement.  As the ever astute Fran Frischilla noted during the telecast, this team might move the ball even better now with all-everything forward, Luke Harangody in the NBA.

The Fighting Illini of Illinois shook off the stench of their Missouri loss to dispatch their neighbors from across the Mississippi River, in the Iowa Hawkeyes.  Big nights from their usual suspects as some hot perimeter shooting early allowed them to cruise to an 87-77 win.

I’m warning you all now, Arachnophobia is a healthy fear.  At least the kind of spiders that play basketball in central Virginia.  The Richmond Spiders have officially become the mid-major team that “no one wants to face in March.” With wins already over Wake Forest, Virginia Commonwealth, Purdue, Arizona State and Seton Hall, they’ve served plenty of notice around the power conferences.

Locally, the Colorado Buffaloes got their 9th win of the year and have two more cupcakes left before opening Big 12 play next week when they host the mighty Missouri Tigers.  Speaking of which, Mizzou (which somehow dropped in the rankings after their Illinois win) have a tough one tonight when they face the Monarchs of Old Dominion (another “tough out” come tourney time).

2. Yes, half of the six NHL games last night had at least 8 goals scored, but one game featured no points from a certain mustached superstar.  Sorry, Sid.  Go start another streak.

1. The Daily Broncos’ Looksie is starting to give some focus to the future of things down at Dove Valley.  While the possible coaching candidates still varies from day-to-day and has included the likes of Jim Harbaugh, Gary Kubiak (who seems he might be staying in Houston?) and even someone like Jim Fassel, the front office seems to be taking shape.  Current executive Brian Xander will continue his duties of working the salary cap, but as general manager, he will also work hand-in-hand on personnel with #7.   

PS-Personally, I am cool with Brandon Lloyd’s now semi-controversial F-bomb that he let loose during his Pro Bowl conference call.  I think it might have been a bit overblown as his follow-up, “and I mean that in the most professional way possible…” was indicative of the wit that this man possesses.  BLloyd has not only a bright future on the gridiron, but he appears to be a natural “on air,” as his skills were on display during the weekly radio/television spots he did all season.  I’m a big fan.  Which has me thinking……

PSS-Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Peyton Hillis. Anyone named to the Pro Bowl?  I’m just saying…..

ONE LOVE


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

After a Day Away

I must apologize for the absence of a Tuesday High Five, as a dental emergency not only floored me in the morning hours, but made work difficult for most of the day.  I’m back in the game today with a couple days worth of action to get to.

UP HIGH!

5. The suddenly sagging Denver Nuggets hosted the suddenly surging Portland Trailblazers last night in Denver.  The home team was able to build a big lead and was able to snap their three-game slide with a relatively easy 95-77 win over their Northwest Division foe.  Another 4th-quarter collapse was not in the offing as the 17-13 Nugs took a 20-point lead into the game’s final 12 minutes.  Balance was the key (and will be, if/when Melo is permanently gone) getting double-figure scoring from all five starters, in addition to an 8/12 night from Birdman Anderson.  Al Harrington is still out and will miss tonight’s game in the Twin Cities, but Melo should be back in the mix after missing the last four games.  Now 30 games in, and Head Coach George Karl has still not had his full compliment of players.

4. Two nights ago, a group of a dozen or so of us took in the Avalanche game versus the Detroit Red Wings.  An amazingly fun time was aided by (stadium drafts) exciting back-and-forth play that ended in a 4-3 overtime loss.  Oddly enough, the Avs were the better team through out the night, putting forth almost twice as many shots on goal (including almost 50 on the veteran, Chris Osgood) and having the lion share of the puck control.  In the end though, the Avs have only guy named, Matty Duchene who was without question, the best player on the ice all night long.  The 19-year-old broke the game’s “ice” with a goal just minutes in.  With about 2:30 left, Matty knotted the score at 3 with his 15 goal of the season, sending the fans into a frenzy and the game into OT.  Alas, however, the home team came up one goal short on the night, but still secured one point against the Western Conference’s top team.

3. While some of the power conferences in college basketball are still getting their “cupcake”-on, the titans of the Big East and Big Ten are kicking off conference play.  Monday night saw an impressive (if not to be expected) win by Pittsburgh over Connecticut.  Both teams came in with top 6 rankings (these arbitrary/useless rankings are even more annoying than the BCS stuff) and the Panthers proved to be the class, getting a big performance from Ashton Gibbs.  Last night, the Big Ten had a gem with the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Madison to face the Wisconsin Badgers.  The visitors trailed for much of the game but fought back to knot things up late in the second half.  Fortunately for the Kohl Center habitants, the Badgers were able to lean on their stars as Jon Leuer and Jordan Taylor took control (after each had tough shooting nights), sparking their team to a 68-60 win.  Both of these teams are loaded with experience and talent and should be primed to make some noise in March after enduring a grueling conference schedule.

A rare night of victories for the Front Range Mountain West trio of Wyoming, the United States Air Force Academy and Colorado State; as all got wins in their last tune-ups before conference play.  It was the fifth in a row for the 8-4 CSU Rams, getting an impressive 8-point road win over San Francisco.

2. Speaking of Air Force, the Zoomies finished its season in grand style, getting their 9th win of the year with their 14-7 Independence Bowl victory over Georgia Tech.  The news is continually good for this team, as not only will Head Coach Troy Calhoun be returning almost his entire team, but it appears that the former Falcon quarterback is in it for the long-haul.  He has continually denied rumors of leaving for possible NFL jobs (including a vacant one right up I-25) and he seems content with his current situation which was just “upped” towards the end of the season.  (He might also like the fact that he is one of, if not THE, highest paid government employee in the ENTIRE country.)  In addition, this team is a realistic threat to win a Mountain West title next year, with the departure of BYU and Utah and the addition of Boise State.

1. The Daily Broncos’ Looksie would like to introduce you to Clemson defensive end Da’Quon Bowers.  The 6-4 275 junior is considered by many as the top prize for teams looking for a pass-rush from the edge.  Again, with the Broncos’ future defensive scheme still up in the air, Bowers is a perfect fit as either a defensive end in a 4-3 or an outside linebacker in the 3-4 format.



PS-Best of luck to my friends, the Silas family, as the father-son tandem take over the reigns in Charlotte for the departing Larry Brown.  Big Paul was long overdue for another head coaching gig and my former college teammate, Steve, is one of the league’s up-and-coming young coaches.

ONE LOVE

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back From the Holidays!

Hello, hello, hello!  After a few days of travel, the holidays and some technical difficulties, the Mile High Five returns with a Monday top ten.  Still no snow at 8,800 feet, but watching the NFL would leave you to believe that it is snowing everywhere else around the country.  Fear not, all you amateur hydrologists, we really don’t need the moisture as the mountains continue to get pounded, leaving the state’s snow pack well above the needed level.  Let’s get it on!

UP HIGH!

10. One thing that has become abundantly clear over the past week is that the Denver Nuggets direly need Carmelo Anthony not only on their roster, but in the line-up on a nightly basis.  Last night’s defeat to an inferior Philadelphia 76er team was the team’s 3rd in a row with Melo out to deal with the loss of his sister.  Life A.M. (After Melo) might not be all that rosy as the depleted team struggles to find consistent scoring, especially in crunch time, when Carmelo truly shines.  Last night’s six-point loss was another in a long line of late game (un)heroics.  A Denver 4th quarter 12-point lead evaporated and those in attendance were left with nothing but coal in their stockings. While the team is getting improved play from the likes of JR Smith and the blossoming Ty Lawson, they have relied too heavily on veteran Chauncey Billups to get points.  This is surely not a recipe for long-term success and with Al Harrington also dinged up, the need for Melo back in the powder blue and gold is even more essential.

9. Things continue to progress for our favorite basketball player outside of the 303 as Los Angeles Clipper, Blake Griffin continues to put up big numbers and even bigger highlights.  Not much positive can usually be gleaned from a nine-win team, but Griffin (and his sidekick, Eric Gordon) has helped the historically inept franchise get their 4th win out of their last 5 games with a victory over Phoenix.  Blake’s 28 and 12 helped him extend his double-double streak to 18 straight, while this little gem below was his league-leading 71st dunk (but ONLY of the night?) of the year.




8. Another Pepsi Center resident is also experiencing some problems, as the Avalanche come into tonight’s game with Detroit on the heels of a two-game losing streak.  The highest scoring team in the NHL is suddenly having trouble lighting the lamp, getting just one measly goal during the recent two-game skid.  I will see several of you later for tonight’s game and tomorrow’s High Five is sure to be packed with stories of the big group’s night out!  Go Avs!  RED WINGS SU……. Oh wait……I’ll have to save those for tonight.

7. NCAA hoops were my focus last week out in Saint Louis, attending Mizzou’s big win in the Braggin’ Rights game over Illinois.  An amazing back-and-forth game got muddled by some late game technical foul calls, but nonetheless this was more than just any regular season December game.  The Tigers’ post-game celebration   in front of the wild 22,000-plus fans (that were split color-wise right down the arena’s core) was much like one normally saved for March.  Things didn’t slow down a few minutes later, as the players were still “hootin’ and hollerin’” in the locker room; savoring their second-straight win in the series after nine straight losses.

Locally, the 8-4 Colorado Buffaloes backed up a lackluster opening game in Las Vegas (losing to a rebuilding New Mexico team) with a strong full-team effort in a consolation game win over Indiana.  The win was even more impressive, as the Buffs did not need to rely on sophomore stud, Alec Burks, who had his lowest scoring output of the year. 

National conference play gets started tonight as UConn faces Pitt in a match-up of two of the east’s best teams.  The Big East battle tips off at 6:30 (MST) on ESPN2.

6. If you have a little time this afternoon (1 PM MST), there is an awesome English Premier League game on ESPN2 with league heavyweights Chelsea and Arsenal meeting.

5. I have been recently been reading Bill Simmons’ (The Sports Guy) Book of Basketball (which is awesome, of course) and it had me thinking about some of the NBA’s great former players.  Then the gang at SLAM posted this old gem of a story.  Bernard King was dope.

NFL TIME! 

4. The NFL is in the home stretch with now just one more regular season week remaining.  The New England Patriots are still the class of the league as it appears that Tom Brady can do no wrong.  The Bears beat the Jets to win the “Fakers’ Bowl.” (I promise that neither of these teams will win a playoff game.)   The Packers and Colts proved that they still have a pulse and the Eagles organization is full of weaklings who are afraid of a little snow.  Football games cancelled because of snow?  Those words should never be uttered together.  Tonight, is another “pretender bowl” with the Falcons and Saints meeting to figure out the NFC South.

3. The AFC Round-up ™ and the Quest for the #1 Pick ™ were both resolved yesterday as the Chiefs locked up the division and Carolina will be drafting Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.  The Broncos can now just hope for the second pick and their choice of the top defensive players, because they already have a franchise quarterback (Tebow, right?) and a defense that has several gaping holes, not to mention a soon-to-be departing Champ Bailey.

2. In yesterday’s 24-23 Bronco victory over Houston, the defense appeared to be up to their old tricks, allowing the Texans to race out to a 17-0 halftime lead.  Big plays were again, an issue, as Arien Foster had plenty of room to run.  In the second-half, the unit was still giving up yards, but they remained stout enough to force just two 50-yard-plus field goals by Neil Rackers.  In addition, this group that has struggled all year long to make plays came up with a big one to put the game on ice.  If a Syd’Quan Thompson interception wasn’t good enough, it was the product of a tipped-pass on the line by Justin Bannon, something we’ve seen very little of all year.

1. The offensive playbook was slightly more ajar this week, letting Tim Tebow not only throw more, but a bit more down field.  He proved to me that he can make the “pro throws” that the experts feel he can’t make.  While the team did go “screen-heavy,” there was some solid down-field completions mixed in there, as well.  There is no doubting that 4th quarter comebacks will always endear a fan base to a young quarterback and Tebow took a BIG step towards winning over not only the doubters on the outside but, more importantly the veterans on the inside.


PS-What the hell is Boxing Day, any way?

ONE LOVE

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

ALL HANDS ON DECK!

Hump Day!  Although, with the majority of the world having only a four-day (if that) work week, maybe that’s not the proper term.  Either way, no SNOW means….

DOWN LOW

5.) So, no movement yet for Carmelo Anthony, but a much different Nugget roster should be at his disposal tonight, as they look to avenge that tragic loss last week to San Antonio.  With the return of Chauncey Billups, Birdman Anderson and Kenyon Martin, Head Coach George Karl will have a full roster for the first (and maybe ONLY time with an impending trade) all year long.  Make no mistake, this team’s defensive intensity and overall attitude will be strengthened by the 2010-11 debut of KMart.

4.) I guess an “egg-laying” was inevitable after the Colorado Avalanche’s recent run of amazing play and last night it came to fruition at the Pepsi Center, with the home team getting skunked 5-0 at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.  This was a bit of a “trap game” with their competition, although as has been mentioned in this space before, the Western Conference is so dominant that still only two teams are under .500.  Just one more “tune-up” on the schedule (tomorrow with Minnesota) before the Detroit Red Wings come to town next Monday.  Much mayhem/coverage is sure to follow that game with a large contingency of MHSV followers in the house.

3. Last night in college basketball featured one of the games I circled early in the season, as UNLV traveled to Kansas City to face the Wildcats of Kansas State.  Unfortunately for the purple faithful, stars, Jacob Pullen and Curtis Kelly were not at Head Coach Frank Martin’s disposal.  The tandem was charged with receiving impermissible benefits from a local department store and caused Pullen to be shut-down for 3 games while Kelly’s suspension is still indefinite.  While the player subtraction will surely hinder the ‘Cats in the short-term, it shouldn’t affect either the bulk of Big 12 play or any kind of run come March.  Last night, though, the omissions were apparent, as the Runnin’ Rebels held on a for a 63-59 win that was largely in doubt until a late blocked shot and a 3-pointer by Oscar Bellfield sealed the win for the visitors. 

2. Speaking of Kansas State basketball, is there anyone in the world today that is scarier than this man?  I would not be surprised if President Obama called on Coach Martin for future peace negotiations with world leaders.  Just throw this guy into a room with North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, and watch as the nukes are deactivated.  As Kansas State forward Jamar Samuels put it, in terms of his coach’s now legendary gaze, “You have to treat it like the sun.  Looking at it for more than a few seconds is dangerous to your health.”

1. The Daily Broncos’ Looksie would like to introduce you to North Carolina’s Robert Quinn.  An extremely athletic defensive sack machine, Quinn is capable of playing either as a defensive end (in a 4-3) or as a linebacker (in a 3-4).  With the Broncos’ future defensive scheme still up in the air, this might be a perfect player to consider with what will be their extremely high draft.  Oh yea, this guy did not play college football all year, as the NCAA sat him down for taking benefits/talking with agents, but know that his future on Sundays is as a bright as….. Coach Martin’s stare.  But then again, as it stands now, maybe there are already too many “Quinns” on this team.

PS-It wasn’t until just posting this that I noticed how much NCAA “cheating” was a part of today’s post.  JUST GIVE THE KIDS SOME SPENDING CASH ALREADY!!!

PSS-Huge basketball game tonight in Saint Louis (despite no pro team or college one worth much) as the nationally-ranked Missouri Tigers and the Illinois Fighting Illini face off in their annual Braggin’ Rights game.  A bit of the shine was taken off this game with Illinois’ recent loss to UI-Chicago, but it may just make for a more competitive game in the end. I’m just lucky that I’ll be sitting courtside for this one.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Is The End for Melo Nearing?

Happy Tuesday.  Quiet sports day around the Mile High City, but plenty to hash up around the sporting landscape.  Let’s go….

UP HIGH!

5. Although, there was no Nugget on-court action, there was plenty of Carmelo Anthony speculation worth mentioning.  New reports have surfaced regarding Melo’s potential in-season move to New Jersey and some conditions that the 8th-year forward might be mandating.  It seems that Melo isn’t that disenfranchised with the talent of his current teammates (then stay!), as the word is he would want a buddy or two to come along (Al Harrington/ Chauncey Billups/JR Smith are the likely candidates).  This type of roster boost to the Nets franchise would supposedly allow Melo to feel comfortable to sign the contract extension that he had originally balked at. 

In addition, however, there are new players that might not even care whether Melo signs the extension, or not.  Dudes like Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban might be willing to make Melo a rental player, in hopes of making a run this year at the Los Angeles Lakers.  And this year’s Mavs team is built to win already (see their road win last night over the streaking Miami Heat) so by adding a piece like Melo would have to strike fear in the hearts of Laker fans worldwide.

And finally, might the Orlando Magic be still a part of the “MELO”-drama?  With all of their recent activity of moving pieces, they might have just been putting the parts in place to make a move at Melo.  Although, I am not sure that bringing in Gilbert Arenas or Earl Clark is going to help out much here.  These last two options aren’t going to be as attractive to Denver (and therefore less likely), as they would not include the desired high-end draft picks, rather those of teams that are finishing near the top of the league.

4. I talked about it and the league delivered!  Last night we saw an instant match-up between yesterday’s topic of Kevin Love’s Minnesota Timberwolves and Blake Griffin’s Los Angeles Clippers.  The TWolves were no match for the high energy play of Blake, Eric Gordon and Baron Davis, as the Clippers raced out to a big lead and held on for their now third (!) win in a row.  The match-up of the two young power forwards did not actually live up to expectations, as Love was largely ineffective offensively (12 points/10 rebounds) while Blake caught alley-oop after alley-oop from Davis.  Seriously, I think there might have been a half-dozen of those two hooking up, with a gem that Davis launched at a weird angle from half-court that Blake calmly flushed with seeming ease.  Blake’s passing was again on display in the 113-90 win as his line of 22/10/7 assists was impressive in its own right.  These two guys remain at the top of the league in not only double-doubles but consecutive ones as they both earned their 16th straight.



3. No Avalanche hockey but plenty of NHL action on last night’s docket.  Sidney Crosby’s mustache kept his point streak alive at 21 straight in a Pittsburgh Penguins’ win.  The Northwest Division is again a knotted-up affair as the Vancouver Canucks tied the Avs at 42 points (but the Canucks still have two games in hand) and the Minnesota Wild beat the Calgary Flames.

2. Still no real good college games of substance (OH, but they’re coming) as Duke UConn and Syracuse all rolled over inferior competition.  Memphis had another battle on their hands (this time with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) and the freshman-heavy team held on for a 5-point win.  Memphis’ own, Joe Jackson (Head Coach Josh Pastner’s biggest signing to date) scored a career-high 23 points to lead the Tigers.  Unfortunately, there was one casualty on the evening, as the Florida Gators lost to the Dolphins of Jacksonville U. for their second loss in-state to a lower level program (other was Central Florida).

Locally, there was a northern Colorado battle as the Colorado State Rams took down their neighbors from Greeley, beating the Bears of UNC, 75-61.

1. Regardless of the health status of Kyle Orton, the Denver Broncos staff has named Tim Tebow the starter for the remaining two games of the season.  Personally, I would love to see Coach Studs take off the reigns a little bit, throw out the majority of those 3rd-and-long runs and let him be a quarterback.  I am certain that if this occurs, we will have a lot better idea on this kid’s future.  As they say, QB’s make their money on 3rd down.

PS-Yes, I know that Tebow’s 40-yard touchdown run was on a 3rd-and-long called run.  Oh, and offensive line!  Feel free to give the kid a few seconds to throw the ball.

Monday, December 20, 2010

TEBOW TIME ON A MONDAY

On Friday, I informed the family that (for the first time all year) I wouldn’t be exclusively glued to the TV for the weekend’s Bronco game.  Then, Tim Tebow was named starter on Saturday and the Mrs. immediate quipped, “So, I guess, we are watching the whole game now.”  Pretty much.  I’m sure we weren’t alone on that shift.

Nor were the Broncos the only story from a busy weekend.

DOUBLE HIGH TEN!

10. Saturday night, the Northwest Division doormats, the Minnesota Timberwolves came to Denver to face a Nugget team still seething from the last-second loss to San Antonio.  Fortunately for Denver fans, the team came out hitting on all cylinders, before taking a comfortable second-half lead (20 in the 3rd quarter).  Unfortunately, those hoping for a smooth easy win were a bit disappointed as the Nuggets followed their early season pattern of playing “stinker” 4th quarters.  The defense was a little shaky and one gentleman by the name of Kevin Love decided to single-handedly will his team back into the game.  The Nuggets were able to hold on (if there was another minute or so added to the game, I don’t think they would have maintained the advantage) and eek out a 115-113 victory.  Love finished the night with a career-high 43 points to go with his requisite 17 rebounds.  The Nuggets again, played without Chauncey Billups, but got more impressive play from the developing Ty Lawson, who finished with 23 points/9 assists/3steals. 

Wins are wins; they all count the same come playoff time; there are no style points.  I’m assuming that’s an acceptable refrain for a 16-10 team.  It also appears we may see the return of Chauncey, Kenyon Martin and Birdman all this week!
 
9. Before we get into another amazing Avalanche weekend, I want to discuss further the merits of Minnesota’s Kevin Love; in relation to our favorite Los Angeles Clipper, Blake Griffin.  At first glance, the two power forwards do not appear to have many similarities, but at this point in their careers, we might be looking at two of the most prolific players of their time.  Statistically speaking, the two players are almost identical at this point.  The 22-year-old Love, in his third pro season, stands at 6-10 goes 265ish and is currently boasting averages of 21 points/16 rebounds/2.5 assists.  The 21-year-old rookie Griffin, on the other hand, is 6-10 260 and has his numbers up to 21 points/12 rebounds/3 assists.  Both are exceptional passers (Love’s outlet passes are already legendary/Griffin has point-guard vision in the half-court) and extremely unselfish despite having the ability to drop 40 on any given night (which they both have).  In addition, with all due respect to Dwight Howard, the pair is the league’s top double-double machines as both are currently standing on 15-game streaks. 

Aesthetically, the pair might not seem so similar, as Griffin is far more apt to end up on SportsCenter’s top plays than Love, but that might be more indicative of Love’s perimeter skills as apposed to Griffin’s propensity for finishing at (OVER) the rim.  Love is far more athletic than most give him credit for and Griffin’s developing perimeter game is much farther along than I even thought. Now if he can just get consistent from the free-throw line.

Unfortunately for their respective fans, each team entered Saturday with 6-21 marks.  While Love's 43 wasn't enough to get his team a win, Blake's 29/12 spurred the Clip-Joint to an impressive win over the Chicago Bulls.

8. Could last night’s 3-2 Avalanche win over Montreal be considered a let-down?  Considering the Avs’ string of high-octane/energy/suspenseful play, the solid 1-goal win (and now 6th straight) might have seemed pedestrian, by comparison.  On the contrary, however, the Avalanche must be commended for continually coming back after each Hab goal and for the second time in as many games back (after missing 27 games), young forward TJ Galliardi scored a goal, with last night’s late 2nd period tally being the game-winner.  Last night’s win comes on the heels of Friday night’s thrilling 6-5 OT win over Ottawa.  The Avs were staring down a 5-4 deficit with just a couple minutes remaining, when the teenagers decided to flex their youthful muscles.  First, it was Ryan O’Reilly (The Factor) who tied the score with a fabulous rush and finish.  Just a few minutes later into overtime, it was his fellow 19-year-older, Matty Duchene who started then finished a full-ice attack with an amazing game-winner.  Of course, the youngster went to his now-patented “glass leap,” much to the delight of the Pepsi Center fans.  The wins put the Avs now at 42 points (4th highest in the NHL) and their 3.6 goals/game is tops in the league.  Not too bad.  We will have a huge contingency in the house a week from today when the “beloved” Detroit Red Wings come to town!  





7. A slow NCAA hoops week (those blasted finals getting in the way!) turned into a busy weekend with all of the big teams in action.  My boys from Gonzaga bounced back from a tough start to the season (with their incredibly difficult pre-conference schedule) to get an impressive win in Dallas over a talented Baylor team (remember the name Perry Jones III).  Our guys from UC-Santa Barbara were beaten soundly by a REALLY good team from San Diego State.

Illinois and Missouri were not able to make it to Wednesday’s Braggin’ Rights Game with identical records as the Fightin’ Illini played an uncharacteristic sloppy (and not veteran-like) game in losing up-state in Chicago to UI-Chicago.  While the Illini have dominated the Chicago-land region in recent recruiting cycles, that win will surely help the fate of the Flames of the Horizon League.

Our local Colorado teams are grabbing some wins in preparation for the start of conference play.  Colorado secured a pair of easy victories (making it 4th and 5th in a row) while DU beat the Bears from Northern Colorado.

6. So, is it OK that I admit to watching the new reality show Sarah Palin’s Alaska?  I do watch it.  While each episode is longer than it needs to be (a lot of repetitive ho-hum stuff) it can be an interesting watch.  At the same time, Palin comes across like a real person and one you could get behind and at the other, she comes across…. well, let’s just say, differently.  With out going into too much detail (as this is not a politico blog) the former Alaskan governor is a little excessively affectionate about her home-state.  It seems the former Vice Presidential-candidate thinks that the “Last Frontier” is also the last place that has hard-working people that like hunting, shooting guns and camping.  We also surmised that it would be a pretty fun drinking game to partake every time Palin mentions, ‘Alaska.’  For the record, I would have been hammered after last night’s episode.
 
5. Hey, SVEN, get back to work, eh?!!!  But maybe leave some really icy/rock-hard/slippery spots on the field for the Bears’ #6.

NFL TIME!

4. This NFL is a fickle beast!  The (fakers) New York Jets win at Pittsburgh is a little confusing.  Baltimore bounced back with a good win over New Orleans.  Luckily for my sanity, New England held on to beat a scrappy (and Aaron Rodgers-less) Green Bay Packer team.  Let’s call them, the cream of the crop! 

I will continue to doubt the Atlanta Falcons/New Orleans Saints/All NFC East teams.  Although, that NYGiant/Philly game yesterday was historical. 

3. The AFC West Round-up is now being replaced with the “Chase for the #1 pick.”  What a perfect Sunday for Denver fans hoping for a top pick in next spring’s NFL Draft?  The Broncos’ nearest “competition” (Detroit, Cincinnati, Carolina, Buffalo) ALL WON!    With just two games left, things currently shake out with the Broncos currently holding down the #2 pick.  C’mon guys!  Keep it up!  I also just read some Mel Kiper takes about how even if Carolina gets the #1 pick they should look into that cheap-shot expert, Fairly, from Auburn.  ELWAY, HARBAUGH, LUCK.  ELWAY, HARBAUGH, LUCK.

2. The defense, again, was largely at fault for the Broncos’ 39-23 loss at Oakland.  They, again, gave up big plays; got gashed in the running game (gave up 200 yards in the first half, which was the most by any team all year); BUT they did finally force some turnovers.  In fact, without those first-half changes in possession, this game might have been more like that abomination that took place at Invesco a few weeks back. 

“Some of these guys don’t even look like they are trying…” was uttered by the Mrs. as that Raider fullback “juked” David Bruton on that crushing 450-yard screen pass for a touchdown.  Worst attempt at an open-field tackle, EVER!

1. TIM TEBOW TIM TEBOW TIM TEBOW!  I saved him for last.  Despite much of the criticism of the young quarterback, I thought it was as positive a performance as could be expected.  The issues for this team are still UP-FRONT where the offensive line got dominated by the Raiders’ front-seven.  Tebow rarely had time to throw (when he did, he was pretty stellar and made the pro throws down the field that I was told he couldn’t make) and the running backs had little space to run…. Or even get out of the backfield. 

All in all, it is obvious that Tebow has some limitations, but for his first outing to be in abysmal conditions and in the hardest road environment possible, he was surely NOT the reason that the Broncos lost on the scoreboard.

ONE LOVE

Friday, December 17, 2010

FRIDAY HIGH FIVE


FRIDAY!  Let’s get right to it. 

UP HIGH!

5. It’s an oft-used adage in the NBA that games always come down to the play in the 4th quarter and last night’s Spurs/Nuggets game was no different.  In fact, the aforementioned axiom could have been condensed to mean the game’s final 10 seconds, as this game’s lead changed hands twice in those final seconds.  As would be expected, front-and-center was Carmelo Anthony (who played another strong game with 31/9) and the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili.  In the past seven years of covering the Nuggets, no opponent (even Kobe) is more hated at the Pepsi Center than Ginobili; largely due to all of his “flopping.” 

Half-way though the fourth quarter, a back-and-forth game turned into an almost double-digit lead for the Spurs.  But the home team did not fold up the tent, rather, they battled back to make it just a 3-point game with possession and just under 20 seconds remaining. 

Here’s where things got interesting.

First, Carmelo got loose for an easy basket (making it just a 1-point game).  Teammate, JR Smith (who had this titanic dunk in the 1st quarter; two-handed from the dots!?!?) deflected the in-bounds directly into Melo’s hands who suddenly gave the Nuggets the lead back.  The Spurs ran a perfect sideline-out-of-bounds flare screen for Ginobili who calmly drained a running bank-shot from the left wing to make it a 1-point Spur lead and only 4 ticks remaining.  There was little doubt about how the Nuggets would attack the final seconds.  The ball was in-bounded to Melo who opted against his patented perimeter jumper at the buzzer and drove hard to hoop, floating in what appeared to be the game-winner.  Immediate pandemonium ensued.  That is, until, the crowd realized that an offensive foul call had been called against Melo, ending the game.  Of course, lying on the floor amongst the mass of bodies was Ginobili, who had drawn the charge to preserve the win.  While not necessarily a “bad call,” it is just not one you EVER see made in the final seconds of a game, against one of the league’s superstars.  I can only assume there was a whole lot of “@*&$^#@ing Flopper!” lines being exclaimed near the Pepsi Center exits.




4. No Avalanche hockey last night to gush about, but 6 of the 9 NHL games involved at least 7 goals.  Northwest Division doormats, Calgary and Edmonton got wins, while the Minnesota Wild lost to Ottawa.

3. My Missouri Tiger team revenged last year’s heart-breaking loss to Oral Roberts with an 81-62 victory over the Tulsa-based school.  With a few minutes left in the 1st half, the Tigers used an 18-2 run to swell the lead to one that they would never relinquish.  The fast-paced, run-and-gun Tigers have one more cakewalk/trap game left before next week’s big Braggin’ Rights game in Saint Louis versus their neighboring rival from Illinois.  The Fightin’ Illini have just a Friday date with UI-Chicago left as both teams look to enter that contest with one overtime loss a piece and both boasting top-15 rankings.  This year’s installment of the cross-conference rivalry figures to be one of its best in years!

Across the Mississippi River into Tennessee, the beloved collegiate Tigers of Memphis found themselves suddenly short-handed and on the wrong side of a 15-point second-half deficit.  Behind the support of their legion of fans (remember, the city is full of Tiger, not Grizzly fans), the Tigers raced back to force overtime against Austin Peay.  With continued torrid perimeter shooting in the extra five minutes, the Tigers were able to secure the 70-68 win.  Head Coach Josh Pastner has continued to deliver on the promises he made when taking over the program following the departure of the legendary John Calipari some 18 months ago.  I always knew that this kid (yes, I am older) had a bright future, stretching back to our conversations about Houston prep basketball when he was still an assistant at the University of Arizona.

2. A little AFC West action last night, as the San Diego Chargers took another step towards another late-season run to the divisional crown.  Colorado Springs-native and Northern Colorado graduate, Vincent Jackson emerged from his team and self-inflicted exile for 3 TDs in the ‘Bolts win over San Francisco.

1. Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow, again, took the majority of snaps at Broncos’ practice on Thursday.  It appears more and more, that #15 might get his most extensive playing time to date.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle Orton still starts come game-time, but a little action in the Black Hole of Oakland would surely put a little hair on the youngster’s chest.  Although, I am sure that Tebow heard some pretty awfully derogatory things during his four years of SEC dominance, nothing would have properly prepared him for the venom that historically spews from that dungeon of a stadium.

PS-While I haven’t been near as a much a fan of his since Rick Reilly left Sports Illustrated, this piece on his hometown Broncos was worth a read.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Up High on a Thursday


So, with a couple inches of snow now coating the ground, it’s starting to slightly look Christmas.  But I’m still waiting for our first “real” snow fall.  The local hockey team is insisting that we go…..

UP HIGH!

5. Jumping back into the Carmelo Anthony contract saga, let’s take a rational look at the actual likelihoods of the moves.  Yesterday’s trade by New Jersey does allow them to put together a package that could entice the Nuggets into making a deal.  The question here is just whether Melo would sign his extension to remain a Net beyond this season.  Like a lot of other possible deals, if Melo won’t sign the extension, the partnering team would likely shy away from mortgaging off their future for just a few months of Melo’s service. 

Now, the Knicks situation is entirely different.  Any possible in-season discussion is really a moot point, as an actual trade with them is not possible.  They Knicks still don’t have the draft picks or the desirable existing players that would move the Nuggets to make the deal.  The ONLY way that Melo becomes a Knick is if he waits out the year, then becomes an unrestricted free agent (when he can sign with anyone).  The catch there, however, is with a new collective bargaining agreement to be done this off-season, Melo could stand to lose out on a large chunk of the $65 million that the Nuggets currently have on the table. 

Interesting to say the least…..  Like I’ve always said, my thoughts change on a daily basis.  STAY MELO, STAY!  That’s where I’m at today.  Hey, maybe we move him and JR Smith?

The suddenly rejuvenated San Antonio Spurs are in town tonight for a late (8:30 MST) national game.

4. Two days after stealing a win over the Stanley Cup champion, Chicago Blackhawks, with a 3rd period flurry, the Colorado Avalanche did it again.  While not as “edge-of-your-seat” exciting as the previous game, it did provide plenty of on-ice fireworks.  Newly acquired, Tomas “Flash” Fleishman turned a deadlocked 1-1 game into his own personal shooting gallery, as the Czech-native poured in three 3rd period goals to secure the 4-3 victory.  Matty Duchene set up two of those goals and continues to impress on both ends of the sheet.  The one downer was the late-game injury suffered by assistant captain, Paul Stasny (who again, played brilliantly last night) when he was boarded head-first by a semi-dirty hit.  He walked off on his own, was reported to have a stiff neck as he boarded the team plane and hopefully will have more (positive) information later today.

3. A college basketball team that I was very high on coming into the season has dropped its 2nd straight game, as the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels were defeated at home by the mighty Guachos of UC-Santa Barbara.  A battle between old conference rivals (my wife often speaks of going to her first basketball game at the Thunderdome and seeing UNLV with the likes of Gerald Paddio in a mid-80’s Pacific Coast Athletic Association game), this was actually UCSB’s 3rd win in a row in the series.  With in-state victories already this year over Fresno State, Loyola-Marymount and Santa Clara, the Guachos up that Golden State-ante about twenty-fold this weekend when they travel down south to meet the best team in the west from San Diego State.  **For the record, there is some NBA potential on this year’s Guacho side.  We will have more information, in the near future, on junior guards, James Nunnelly and Orlando Johnson.**

2. US National Team soccer player, Charlie Davies looks to make his highly anticipated return to real action this weekend, 14 months after a car accident almost ended his career.  Many casual soccer fans probably aren’t real familiar with the 24-year-old as the accident kept him out of this past summer’s World Cup.  However, this kid was a big reason that the Nats looked so impressive in qualifying.  Honestly, his absence (and that of Rapid forward, Conor Casey) was glaring through out the tournament as the US struggled to score goals.  Currently playing professionally in France, Davies might be trying to force a future move to England for a chance to play in the Premier League.

1. And we thought that we had some shady underlings working for the Broncos down at Dove Valley (see, “McSpygate”).  But the Jets may have out-slimed us with their strength coach’s antics from last week.  Tripping opponent’s gunners from the sideline?  Somewhere, Woody Hayes is smiling down on this goon.

PS-I encourage all to take a look at an Avalanche podcast-blog operated by our good friend (and sweet swinging Das Booter), Jay Vean.  www.avshockeypodcast.com is the site and is full of great material.  Needless to say, that in addition to the man’s Herculean base/soft-ball skills and that basically scratch-golfer thing, the man loves and knows him some hockey.

ONE LOVE TO ALL

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Hump Day High Five


Wednesday is again, upon us, with more NBA trade rumors, NFL coach talk but still no snow in the Denver area.  Not beginning to look a lot like Christmas…..

Either way….

UP HIGH!

5. With all of the rumors swirling around Carmelo Anthony on a daily basis, the 8th-year forward showed no signs of any negative affect, as he led the Nuggets to an impressive 111-94 win over the visiting Orlando Magic.  The game was a back-and-forth affair for most of the night and with still about half of the final quarter remaining, the Nuggets held on to a slim one-point advantage.  At this point, the defense was ratcheted up and the offense buried the visitors with a 23-6 run.  For the game, Melo was an efficient 14-21 from the field on his way to a 35 point/11 rebound night.  But it might have been the team’s defensive intensity that made the difference as Nene physically frustrated the Magic’s Dwight Howard through out the game.  Nene, alongside 2nd-year point guard Ty Lawson (with Chauncey Billups out all week with an aggravated wrist) helped the Nuggets to their 10th straight home win (at 11-1, the best home record in the NBA) and move to 15-9 on the season.  What is to become of this team?  The MELO-drama will likely dictate this team’s future narrative and we will revisit this topic later in the High Five.

4. There was little going on in the hockey world with just two games on the NHL docket, but Avalanche fans have got to be still high on the fumes of their last three games.  Each game/win seemed almost better than the previous one.  Superlatives have been overused by the talking heads in the Altitude studios and the Pepsi Center PA guy, Alan Roach (who has worked over 500 Avs games) even went so far as to call the Chicago game, quite possibly the best he’d ever witnessed.  We all can witness the same combatants tonight as the Avalanches are back on the road in the Windy City for a quick rematch with the Blackhawks.

3. After an early season gauntlet that included close losses to the likes of West Virginia, Purdue, Michigan State and Illinois, the Grizzlies of Oakland University traveled south to Knoxville and got a big win over the Tennessee Volunteers.  If you want to argue the reality of a Grizzly bear strolling around the urban NorCal environs of Oakland, know that this Oakland is based in the Detroit suburbs.  This program, with just 11 seasons of Division-I play under their “pelts”, includes a potential first-round NBA pick in 6-11 center, Keith Benson, who terrorized the Vols with 20 first-half points.  For the record, the Grizzlies are a favorite to win the Summit League and very easily could be one of the scrappy mid-majors to make a run into the NCAA Tournament’s second weekend.  (Keep writing these down!)  Still on the pre-conference schedule, however, is a date with the #2 Ohio State Buckeyes.  Just down the road from Rocky Top, another “ranked” team got taken down “in their own barn” as the Louisville Cardinals dropped a stinker to Drexel.

2. We have more Melo talk as this little “nugget” came in a bit under the rumor radar.  In a trade that will become official later today, the NJ Nets have moved some parts and acquired another 2 1st-round picks and the expiring contract of Laker guard, Sasha Vujacic (aka Mr. Maria Sharapova).  This move gives the Nets 4 first-round draft picks (what the Nuggets covet most) over the next two seasons and more pieces to move.  The Nets would obviously want Melo to sign the contract extension before the trade (something Melo has indicated would only happen with a move to the NY Knicks) but the Nets impending move to Brooklyn is one enticing piece which could move the Nets back into center stage of this “MELO”-drama.

1. With the Denver Broncos currently sitting at the 3rd draft pick position, the Daily Bronco Looksie would like to formally introduce you to Stanford’s Andrew Luck.  While defense is the obvious need and the focus of our little formal “meet and greets” we’ve been having over the past couple week, I would be remised to not spotlight this guy who will be the first player taken next spring.  With no certainty on how the Broncos will be structured come this off-season, a quarterback might actually be needed.  And if we play a certain “southpawed” Florida quarterback (and subsequently lose the last 3 games) we might be in the position to take this big-armed gunslinger that grew up in the Houston area.  Again, I have mentioned this before, but hiring John Elway, then hiring Jim Harbaugh and drafting Luck, would be a pretty sweet Stanford triumvirate.
 
PS- So, I guess the Florida High School Athletics Association needs to take a page from the NBA and start cracking down on these whiny players.

ONE LOVE

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A MIle High Five Tuesday


It is another glorious day here along the Front Range of Denver.  An interesting night of both national and local things to get to, so let’s go…..

UP HIGH!

5. So, as is the case with the NBA as a whole, “league sources” continue to dictate the “MELO”-drama going on the Denver Nuggets.  This past Sunday, with the team in NYC (Carmelo’s long-purported trade destination), a “source” reported that Melo would only sign the Nuggets’ 3 year-$65 million offer if he was then traded to the Knicks.  Back in Denver on Monday, Melo, of course, denied the assertion.  Melo even went as far as to claim that he could see himself in Denver, ripping off this gem, “I’ve been here for seven years and this is my 8th season.  I don’t mind calling this thing home.”   

Nor do we, Melo.  Nor do we.  This ‘thing.’

4. For the third straight game, the Colorado Avalanche seemed a bit undermanned (both talent and health-wise) but overcame a late deficit (on a questionable allowed goal) by scoring 3 goals in the last 2:30 for a dramatic 7-5 win over the Cup champs from Chicago.  It was an amazing comeback win for the Avs, who were without 7 (!) regulars from their starting line-up.  19-year-old wünderkid, Matty Duchene slotted home 2 goals, including the game-winner with 1:30 left.  His celebration was in way an indicator of his youthful age, right?.  Paul Stasny and Tomas Fleishman were great, as well, with Stasny setting the tempo with a 1G/2A first period and “Flash” scoring the equalizer before setting up the last two goals in the game’s waning minutes.

UNWAR the multitude of Blackhawks fans in attendance last night.  For those Avs faithful at the Pepsi Center, it must have felt like a Steeler/Bronco game at Invesco.

3. The Broken Record Department reports that it is still pretty quiet around the NCAA basketball landscape.  San Diego State (hate those guys…) played without their best players, but pulled out a gutsy win over Cal-Poly (holla San Luis!)  The Wisconsin Badgers completed the “cheese-head sweep” by beating Green Bay, Marquette and UW-Milwaukee in a 5-day span.  The Badgers are not currently ranked (WHICH DOES NOT MATTER) but Bo Ryan’s team will definitely pose a threat this March. Remember, be taking notes all year and you’re bound to improve your bracket with the gems embedded within.

Two underachieving local teams (DU and Wyoming) meet tonight up in Laramie.  As a side note, that arena was actually the site of my very first successful dunk attempt during a summer team camp practice.  I was such a beast.   All 135 gangly pounds of me.

2. As if I had to have more reason to loath the Philadelphia Phillies!   Now with the Cliff Lee signing, they have the 1st and 2nd best pitchers in baseball?!?  Sorry, Ubaldo, I meant 2nd and 3rd.  While I don’t look forward to facing the Phils in the postseason with their now-historical 1-2 punch, I do get a bit of satisfaction knowing that the Yankees or Red Sox (who have already spent more this summer on two contracts than half the league payrolls) weren’t able to land Lee.

1. So it looks like Kyle “The Neckbeard” Orton will get the start at quarterback again this week in Oakland.  Honestly, I would never utter the words ‘Tim’ or ‘Tebow’ if it weren’t for the really sub-par performance that Orton has put forth these past two weeks.  He has been great this year, but he has looked especially slow in the pocket and utterly inaccurate.  Not a good combination. 


PS- I haven’t yet really discussed Dancing with the Stars’ second-cousin, once-removed, Skating with the Stars.  I missed last night’s show. For some reason my DVR was only interested in hockey and CBS sitcoms.  SWTS is pretty money.  It’s really no different than ABC’s cash-cow, DWTS, but it adds the enticing element of “falling on your ass”-ness.  Wouldn’t that make it better and therefore more popular?  It’s also surely a harder skill to learn and more respectable in my mind.  It just sucks that Mötley Crüe’s Vince Neil got eliminated.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Monday High Ten

Welcome to All!  Things here at the Mile High View are still under construction as new features will be added daily, but this week we will focus on the Daily High Five (and Elway’s possible return?) Of course, as is the practice during the NFL season, Mondays are worthy of….

TEN, UP HIGH!!!

10. These are “mixed-bag” times for the Denver Nuggets.  With the tenuous nature of the Carmelo Anthony predicament, there is still much uncertainty with the future of the current roster.  It does seem that he has finally made it official that he wants to play for the Knicks and the “interweb” is loaded with interesting takes and thoughts on what might happen.  (I especially enjoyed this little round-table thing done by ESPN.)  On the court, the Nuggets got Head Coach George Karl his 1,000 win in Toronto on Friday, before falling in NYC yesterday morning to the Knicks.  Of course, there was tons of speculation with Melo back in the line-up and playing in the World’s Most Famous Arena.  Like, I mentioned last week, something with Melo is going to happen soon.  The Nuggets are finally home after a pretty disappointing 1-4 road trip.

9. When you lose the first 3 games of a 5-game road-trip, there is seemingly no way to come out on the positive side of things, right?  But in the NHL, it is possible!  With 2 overtime losses in the first 3 games on the road, the Avalanche finished up their trip with 2 awesome wins.  Back-to-back victories in Atlanta and Washington against superior teams might represent the most impressive play by the team this season.  Matty Duchene was spectacular on Friday in the ATL and Paul Stasny was equally money on Saturday in our nation’s capital.

8. Oddly enough, it was kind of a slow weekend for college basketball.  My boys from Gonzaga continue to struggle suffering another loss (to another ranked team), this time falling in South Bend to Notre Dame.  Missouri and Illinois both won (the Illini fought off a scrappy little team from Greeley last night.)  Looking ahead, we have an equally slow week of interesting games, aside from the UCSB Guachos pulling two ranked opponents in UNLV and SDSU.

The local CU Buffs are in the middle of a nine-day lay-off before facing the might Cadets from the Citadel this Friday.  The Buffs have 6 games remaining before Big 12 play kicks off, so an 11-3 or 10-4 record is actually pretty possible.

7. I actually watched a little college hockey this weekend as the very cool, “Big Chill” game in Ann Arbor, MI between UM and MSU was played outside at the “Big House” in front of 113,000-plus.  Locally the #9-ranked DU Pioneers got a win and a tie against Alaska-Anchorage, while the CC Tigers got a weekend sweep over St. Cloud State (which might just vault the Tigers back into the top 20.) 

6. Speaking of “amateur” sports, Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy just as I was starting my highly anticipated viewing of ESPN’s 30 for 30 movie on SMU Football, called Pony Excess.  As expected, this was a super awesome flick with tons of revealing interviews with coaches, players and most importantly, the boosters.  The craziness of the SWC during the late 70s/early 80s was spotlighted with all teams put under the microscope.  However, much of the SMU issues started with the recruitment of the Pony Express backfield of Craig James and the immortal Eric Dickerson (4Runners, Chiefs’ defense anyone???).  One of the most (in)famous lines involved the fact that Dickerson might have taken a pay cut when he was drafted into the NFL by the Los Angeles Rams. 

NFL TIME!!!

5. I will never cheer against the Broncos, EVER, or want them to lose. Despite my desire for them to “fade” right into the #1 drafting spot, I was still actively cheering during yesterday’s “Debacle in the Desert” (that was mine).  Losing sucks, but when we drop to 3-10, just as the Lions and Bills “rise” to the same record, that is good, very good.

Speaking of very good; how about those New England Patriots?  Face Cutler. Face Chicago.  You’re liars, you’re fakers.  Just like the Jets.  The Saints and Falcons appear to be the class of the mediocre NFC, but things have come down to the trio of New England, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.  Let the race for home-field advantage begin!

4. The AFC West, again, got interesting as the San Diego Chargers blew out the (for now) first-place Kansas City Chiefs.  That win puts the ‘Bolts just one game behind for the divisional lead and their inevitable run back to the top of the division appears….. inevitable?  The Raiders lost again, so we got that going for us….. which is nice.

3. A December game in Arizona was not supposed to be the site for the offense’s worst outing of the year, but…..  Again, another great start, marching down the field, a good mix of run and pass, but then Kyle Orton started to flat-out stink and the ball was all greased-up.  That’s two awful games in a row for Orton.  At 3-10, the obvious Tim Tebow question has to be raised, again and again and again…. By the way, I will say it again, Knowshawn Moreno is a keeper. 

2. This Bronco defense continues to disappoint.  They looked pretty strong for much of the first-half as they tried to put back the pieces of the offenses’ continued desire to turn the ball over.  In the second half (mostly 4th quarter) they couldn’t stop guys named, John Skelton and Tim Hightower.  No, not that guy over there, a different Hightower.  Again, Champ Bailey was the best player on the field.  Best defensive back, EVER. 

1. So, it appears that this John Elway-Front office thing is continuing to gain traction.  If this organization needs some “buzz” or a shot of positive attention, this will surely do it.  Most people caution hiring a former player (or legend) to work for their former team, but Elway is not your normal ex-player.  He has fronted several successful business ventures (keeping him in Denver since he retired) and even GM-ed the Colorado Crush to an Arena League title.  Throw in his familiarity with the team, Dove Valley, Pat Bowlen and most importantly, the fans, and the hire seems more and more like a no-brainer.


ONE LOVE