The Centennial Soapbox
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When I woke up this morning, I began my normal Sunday ritual of checking e-mail, catching up on the latest news from the sports world and beyond, and settling in on my couch to watch a little NFL football. Although football is #3 on the list for me behind hockey and baseball, something about the NFL lends itself to being perhaps the most watchable sport on television. NFL games begin at 11:00 AM here in the Centennial State of Colorado, with the second game kicking off at 2:00 PM, and night games usually beginning at 6:30 PM. There isn't a better time zone for sports than the Mountain Time Zone. You can watch a night game, and still be in bed at 10:00 or 11:00 PM, which is about halftime in farther east areas of the country.

After receiving an early dusting of 3 inches of snow last night, today was unseasonably cold in this area. Of course, it has been incredibly warm until now, so I guess we're paying for it today. The temperature failed to climb above 5 degrees in most areas of the state, and, as I write this blog, my thermometer reads -4.9 degrees. There couldn't be a better day to watch a football game on TV. You can just settle in to the couch in a heated living room with your coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy the action in stunning high definition, perhaps the greatest invention in history.

I will get to the Broncos shortly, but I do have some observations from around the NFL:

1. Mark my words: Peyton Manning will be the 2008 NFL MVP. That's right, folks. Many people wrote the Colts off after their 3-4 start, but, after a win today, Manning has quietly led his team to 7 straight victories and a virtual lock for an AFC Wild Card spot. What Manning has done coming off of the late offseason knee surgery is incredible, and the Colts will make a lot of noise in the Playoffs. Manning vs. Manning? We'll see...

2. The Arizona Cardinals will not go far in the postseason. Such is life when you reside in the NFC West in this day and age. The team that I saw today did not look hungry as they move toward the Playoffs. Sure, they already have the division locked up. However, they can just put it on cruise control the rest of the way. I don't see how they turn it on in the postseason. They may get one win as the area is amped up for a home game, but they won't go any further than that.

3. The San Diego Chargers won't go quietly into the night. Although I doubt that they will come back and overtake the Broncos to win the AFC West, they showed incredible resolve today coming back against the Chiefs. When CBS' coverage switched to the Broncos game, I was feeling good, thinking that, no matter what happened, the Broncos would still wind up with the division crown at the end of the day. The Chargers came storming back, though, and they still have the proverbial puncher's chance. They have unquestioned talent, and they may not be done yet.

Finally, on to the Broncos. As I watched the game today, I didn't get the feeling so much that they played poorly as I did that the Panthers are just that good. The loss of Peyton Hillis to a torn hamstring could single-handedly derail the Broncos' season, as they no longer have any semblance of a running game. With Spencer Larsen injured, there isn't a fullback on the roster, so Jay Cutler has to literally carry the team on his shoulders. Tatum Bell, Selvin Young, and PJ Pope don't really pose any threat to many defenses. However, the Bills are coming to town next week, and I do expect the Broncos to come out on top and wrap up the division. I guess we'll have to wait and see what happens. Until then...

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