Well, that was one bizarre slate of early games–an oddity that will certainly be dominated by Matthew Slater’s ill-fated coin toss adventures with Clete Blakeman. That said, combined with the Chiefs’ struggles to win against the lowly Browns, what happened in the Meadowlands may not have been a moment for Broncos fans to laugh too hard.
But thankfully, the Ravens came through by throwing a major wrench in the Steelers’ playoff hopes by holding on to a 20-17 win. Pittsburgh’s loss satisfies half of what the Broncos needed this week to clinch a playoff berth (a Jets loss would have also sufficed).
But now, as the title indicates, the Broncos need to only win one of their remaning two to clinch a playoff berth. Even with a loss against the Bengals on Monday, if the Broncos bounce back to beat the Chargers, Pittsburgh will be unable to catch them even if they beat the Browns to close out.
While the Broncos can punch their January ticket on Monday, they cannot hoist their fifth straight AFC West banner that soon. In order to do that (and be no worse than the #3 seed) the Broncos need one of two things to happen:
- Win both games
- Win one, lose one, and have the Chiefs lose to the Raiders.
But while the Broncos can now absorb a Bengals loss and still get into the playoffs, they need that win to get the best seeding possible. If they lose, the Bengals would clinch the other first round bye, But should they defeat Cincinnati on Monday, the following seeds are available for Denver:
- Denver would need a win over SD OR losses by Cincinnati (vs. BAL) AND Kansas City (vs. OAK) to clinch the #2 seed.
- Denver would need a win over SD AND a New England loss (@ MIA) to clinch the #1 seed.
As Nick has already shared, an Al-Jazeera investigation claims that Peyton Manning, among other pro athletes, acquired human growth hormone from Charlie Sly, a pharmacist who worked at The Guyer Institute, an anti-aging clinic based in Indianapolis.
The NFL banned the usage of HGH in 1991, but did not implement testing procedures until 2011 and testing itself did not begin until 2014. A major reason why HGH testing wasn’t implemented when the NFL first banned its usage was because only a blood test could detect it and such tests weren’t reliable at the time.
Let me get one thing out of the way first: It is certainly possible that Peyton Manning acquired HGH when he was trying to recover from neck surgery. It’s known he explored multiple, legal options to get back onto the playing field sooner.
Continue reading Rational Reaction: Peyton Manning, HGH And Our Overreaction To PEDs
An Indianapolis anti-aging clinic supplied quarterback Peyton Manning with human growth hormone, a performance-enhancing drug banned by the NFL, a pharmacist who once worked at the clinic asserts in a new special report from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.
Manning missed the 2011 season, when he was a member of the Indianapolis Colts, after undergoing neck surgery. In the documentary, Sly tells Collins, who is taking secret video of his interactions, that he was “part of a medical team that helped [Manning] recover” from the surgery. Sly alleges that the clinic mailed growth hormone and other drugs to Manning’s wife, Ashley Manning, so that the quarterback’s name was never attached to them.
Manning, for his part, has strongly and quickly denied these accusations:
The allegation that I would do something like that is complete garbage and is totally made up,” the statement from Manning said. “It never happened. Never. I really can’t believe somebody would put something like this on the air. Whoever said this is making stuff up.
I have a few very early thoughts on this report, that of course can change as we learn more:
- First, it should be noted that Manning is not the only NFL player implicated in this report. Also among the accused are Packers linebackers Mike Neal and Julius Peppers (along with a non-HGH accusation levied at Clay Matthews), Steelers linebacker James Harrison, and former Jets/Dolphins tight end Dustin Keller. Manning may be the most high profile player among the accused, but there is Pro Bowl talent among the other names listed above.
- Furthermore, it’s highly likely that many, many more players have taken HGH recently. Chris Kluwe (who, if you read his Twitter feed is hardly being kind to Manning), gave this guess:
@contrariancont Teams, 100%. Percentage of guys on the team, dunno. Probably 40ish from the esteemed source of "numbers from my ass."
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) December 27, 2015
- As the Huffington Post explains, HGH was included in the Program on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances in the 2011 CBA (but actual testing did not occur until 2014). This is laid out in Art. 39, §7(b) as the only mention of HGH in the entire CBA, stating that “the Program on Anabolic Steroids and Related Substances will include both annual blood testing and random blood testing for human growth hormone, with discipline for positive tests at the same level as for steroids.”
- The 2014 addendum to the CBA that allowed HGH to be tested made clear that a first time violation for HGH would be exactly four games. It is unclear if evidence unrelated to testing would allow the NFL to place in the player in the steroids program like it would for substance abuse (see, e.g., Shane Ray for his weed citation before the 2015 NFL Draft that allowed him to fall to the Broncos). But we would be potentially talking about evidence that dates back four years, as the HuffPost for its part links Manning specifically to the year 2011.
- And if 2011 is the only year in question, and if positive tests are required for any discipline under the steroids program, it’s highly likely that any punishment of any implicated player could violate the terms of the CBA. And in Manning’s case, even if retroactive punishment is allowed, it’s highly unlikely it would actually affect him unless he makes the increasingly odd choice to attempt to play in 2016.
- Finally, it should be noted that nothing in the HuffPost article implicates either the Colts or Broncos organizations. That should go without saying, but I have a feeling that the Patriots fanbase is going to make yet another comparison of every possible allegation of NFL wrongdoing to Deflategate—with the added ingredient of the endless Manning-Brady debate resulting in a particularly intense round of rationalization.
It’s been known for a while that Andy Dalton will miss the big game in Denver. But the Bengals will also be down at least one, and perhaps two other important players:
— Jeremy Rauch (@FOX19Jeremy) December 26, 2015
Source: Steelers' Cody Wallace won't get suspension for hit https://t.co/hRWvPyU9bh
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 23, 2015
He did, however, get fined.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 23, 2015
I’ll add what Andrew Mason and Jeff Legwold had to say, because both hit the nail on the head.
Can't take the NFL's desire to limit helmet-to-helmet collisions & provide severe punishment seriously ever again. https://t.co/ZZpEaJqWfQ
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) December 23, 2015
I have no doubt if Cody Wallace was a defensive player and hit a receiver like he hit David Bruton Jr, he would have quickly been suspended.
— Jeff Legwold (@Jeff_Legwold) December 23, 2015
* Peyton Manning did not practice. I think it’s clear he won’t take another snap for the regular season. Looks like the KC game will be his last game with the Broncos, unless the Broncos make the playoffs (good chance) and he is able to practice and the team starts him (slim chance).
* T.J. Ward returned to practice. Looks like he’ll be on track to start Monday vs. the Bengals.
* Others not practicing were Darian Stewart, Omar Bolden and Todd Davis. For those three, the key is if they practice by Friday.
Here are this week’s Not So Scientific Rankings. As always, they average the following:
So many deserving players on our team, but congrats to our 4 Pro Bowlers – Aqib, Chris, DeMarcus & Von! Great recognition from peers & fans.
— John Elway (@johnelway) December 23, 2015
In addition, four other Broncos were named as alternates: Demaryius Thomas, Louis Vasquez, Brandon Marshall and TJ Ward.
Perhaps most important, however, was the omission of both Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson, not even as alternates. The only reason that’s important is because it may very slightly reduce their value on the open market should they hit free agency in 2016.