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Broncos go from joke to contender in 2 years

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Broncos go from joke to contender in 2 years

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Two short years ago, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen sent out a letter to season ticket holders. ``You deserve more from this franchise,'' he wrote.

Then, he went out and fixed it - first by hiring John Elway, who remembered how things worked when the Broncos were one of the NFL's premier organizations, then by bringing on John Fox as coach and, eventually, Peyton Manning to play quarterback.

On Monday, the day after the Broncos closed out a 13-3 regular season and wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the AFC, the team distributed a different kind of memo, a five-page list titled ``Denver Broncos 2012 Regular-Season Superlatives'' - quite a fitting symbol for a franchise that has transformed itself from a punch line with a 4-12 record to a Super Bowl favorite in the span of two years.

How to explain a turnaround that came ahead of schedule?

``You look at Pat Bowlen and his career as owner of the Denver Broncos. He's amassed an unbelievable record. That doesn't just fall out of the sky,'' Fox said of his owner, who has brought two Super Bowl and 10 division titles to Denver since he became owner in 1984. ``John coming back to the organization, his background. Just his commitment to being successful, doesn't matter what that was, whether it was football or business. I knew what kind of competitor he was.

``And I've done it before. In Carolina. It was just a good fit and I'm happy it worked out.''

Back with the Broncos and running their front office, Elway signed Fox, citing his positive attitude and the quick-turnaround ability he showed in taking Carolina from 1-15 to the Super Bowl over the course of two years. Elway drafted Von Miller, who finished the season with a franchise-high 18 1/2 sacks. And Elway, of course, signed Manning while also jettisoning Tim Tebow, whose success in Denver created a confusing, emotional mix that might have made it difficult for a less-beloved figure to sort out.

``I don't look so much at who was here, who wasn't here, who gets credit,'' Fox said. ``It's more what that one guy in 53 can bring to the team and bring to winning a world championship.''

Of Denver's 53 guys, Manning, of course, is No. 1. The quarterback is in the hunt for his fifth Most Valuable Player award. Nearly an entire page of the five-page handout from the Broncos is dedicated to listing his achievements this season.

Among them:

-Single-season franchise records for completions (400), yards (4,659), completion percentage (68.6), touchdowns (37) and passer rating (105.8).

-Tied a personal best and set a team record with nine 300-yard games.

-Became first quarterback to make a Pro Bowl after missing the previous year due to injury.

-Led Denver to 11 straight wins by at least seven points, tied for the second-longest streak of all time.

``I had no real expectations for what this year would be like, so I don't know if you can exceed expectations if you never really had any,'' Manning said after Denver wrapped up home-field advantage with a 38-3 win over the Chiefs on Sunday. ``Some things were really kind of wait-and-see for me, but it's been a gratifying regular season and very humbling. I have to admit that.''

Fox is using the bye week to stay sharp, calling for short, crisp practices on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and a mandatory weightlifting session Saturday, mainly to keep the team ``focused, not concerned with flights to other states and those type of things, especially close states.'' (Think, Nevada.)

Meanwhile, in another telling symbol of a team's success, offensive coordinator Mike McCoy will use the bye week to interview for newly vacant head coaching jobs in Arizona and Chicago.

``With team success, you get recognition,'' Fox said. ``Those guys are all professionals. They understand the focus it's going to take for us to get where we want.''

After the weekend, the Broncos will know who their next opponent is - either Cincinnati, Baltimore or Manning's old team, the Indianapolis Colts.

The playoff game is scheduled for Jan. 12 - two years minus one day to the date Fox came to the Broncos, who were a mess at the time, reeling from an embarrassing videotaping scandal, a midseason coaching change, a league-worst defense and the presence of Tebow, who was drafted by a coach who wouldn't put him in the lineup. That coach was Josh McDaniels, now offensive coordinator for the Patriots, whose name still raises hackles in Denver.

In so many ways, however, his departure feels like longer than two years ago.

``It's a lot of people with a commitment to work hard to make it happen,'' Fox said. ``It's a big commitment. Not just a little bit of interest. It's a commitment to being world champions and we've been working on it for two years. We get that opportunity again to get in the tournament and see what happens.''

Notes: Barring a change in the NFL schedule, either the Broncos or Raiders will play a Thanksgiving game at Dallas in 2013, which hosts an AFC team in the traditional holiday contest next year. Denver will also travel to Houston and New England while hosting the Washington Redskins and former Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. ... The Broncos outscored opponents 299-138 in the second halves of games this season, the third-highest second-half scoring differential since the 1970 merger. ... Broncos gave up fewest sacks in NFL (21) this season while sharing the league lead in sacks on defense (52). ... Denver finished fourth in total offense and second in total defense, marking fourth time in team history finishing in top five in both categories. ... The team said the 5,000 playoff tickets it put on sale Monday sold out in nine minutes.

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Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Ducks: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Coming off of the adrenaline-pumping 5-1 win over the Sharks on Thursday, the Capitals (32-19-7) will face off against the Anaheim Ducks (22-27-9) Sunday evening. The Capitals hope to maintain their energy with a win over the Ducks, the second-worst team in the Pacific Division.
 
The Ducks broke a seven-game losing streak (which began towards the end of January) to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, but lost again to the Boston Bruins on Friday. The Ducks are seventh in the Pacific Division, only slightly above the Los Angeles Kings.


Here is everything you need to know about the Sunday night, which takes place at 9 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at DUCKS HOW TO WATCH


What: Washington Capitals at Anaheim Ducks, Game 59 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
When: 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at Ducks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Ducks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at DUCKS TV SCHEDULE


8 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
8:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
9 PM: Capitals at Ducks
11:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
12 AM: Caps Overtime Live


CAPITALS at DUCKS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
No injuries to report.

Ducks: 
Ryan Miller -- knee injury as of Feb. 15. 
Nick Ritchie -- illness as of Feb. 15.
Chad Johnson -- head injury as of Feb. 13. 
John Gibson -- back, neck and head injuries as of Feb. 8. 
Patrick Eaves -- flu-like symptoms as of Feb. 7. 
Ondrej Kase -- torn labrum in his right shoulder as of Jan. 18. 

CAPITALS at DUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovechkin is the leading goal scorer in the NHL. In the Caps’ last game against the Sharks, the team captain contributed one goal and one assist in the team’s blowout 5-1 win.

T.J. Oshie, F, Capitals (18 goals, 18 assists, 36 points): Oshie scored his 500th career point in his second goal against the Sharks on Thursday. He’s been a key player on the ice this February, scoring three goals and contributing with five assists. 

CAPITALS vs. DUCKS SERIES HISTORY


Number of all-time Meetings: 36
All-Time Series Record: Ducks lead 18-17-1
Last Meeting: Ducks win 6-5 (12/2/18)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Former Nationals GM thinks the Bryce Harper sweepstakes are almost over

Another day, another favorite in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes.

It’s not a completely new team this time around, but former baseball executive and current analyst Jim Bowden feels pretty confident in the Philadelphia Phillies landing the services of the star outfielder.

“I keep hearing there’s a lot of momentum and traction here on him going and signing with the Philadelphia Phillies,” Bowden shared on CBS Sports HQ. “And he could be rounding third and heading home shortly.”

Bowden appeared on the program to help react to the most recent betting odds on Harper, specifically those that have the San Francisco Giants as the clear favorites. Bowden disagrees with that projection, especially considering the length of the offers involved. 

It’s clear the Giants are hoping to sign Harper to a short term deal, but the former Nationals general manager is convinced the outfielder will end up getting a significantly longer deal.

10 years, $300 million is of course the terms of the deal the Nationals reportedly offered Harper months ago as the offseason was getting underway, so if he’s been holding out for a better contract then the Phillies may be forced to top it.

One point Bowden made during the interview was how badly Harper wants to win “right now.” The Giants, Padres, and White Sox don’t appear ready to truly compete for another few seasons, which is why he so emphatically endorses Philadelphia or Washington as the ultimate destination. 

The Phillies and Nats look like the only two competitors who can feasibly win the World Series as early as 2019, and if that’s truly important to Harper, it helps weed out the competition.

Of course, as with the litany of Bryce Harper rumors we’ve heard all winter long, this comes with a baseball-sized grain of salt. 

Various teams have taken turns atop the leaderboard when it comes to guessing where Harper will end up, and while the Phillies are probably the most consistent favorite of the offseason, there’s obviously a reason why they and/or Harper have yet to pull the trigger on a deal. 

The fit seems clear, and the money is there, but for now, Harper is still unemployed, which means every team still has an opportunity to wow him with an offer. It wouldn’t too be surprising if he ultimately ends up in Philadelphia, and if Jim Bowden is to be believed, that news could be coming sooner rather than later.

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