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Stress test? Broncos use practice to keep it real

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Stress test? Broncos use practice to keep it real

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Last year, the Denver Broncos had plenty of practice - fall behind, stay close, go into hurry-up mode late and find some way to pull out a game with hardly any time left.

This year, about the only thing the Broncos are perfecting late in games is how to line up in victory formation.

With a game against the Chiefs (2-13) coming up Sunday, odds are against the Broncos (12-3) finally getting a dose of late-game drama. That means they could very well go into the postseason without having once endured the stress of needing the make-or-break score in 2012.

Not even Peyton Manning, who loves to rehearse every situation and every scenario as many times as possible with his new team, can give the Broncos the real-time practice they need in that department.

``You can't do anything about changing the outcome of the game,'' Manning said. ``You try to simulate game-like scenarios in practice. It's not quite the same as a game, so that's something coach Fox and the staff have tried to do all season long.''

Through 15 games, the Broncos haven't faced a single one that has come down to the wire. Two of their three losses came by less than a touchdown, but in the 27-21 loss to Atlanta, they didn't have the ball at the end, and in the 31-25 loss to Houston, they got it back with 20 seconds and no timeouts at their own 14-yard line - only time for a completion, a spike and one desperation play.

Meanwhile, the Broncos' 10-game winning streak has come by an average margin of 14 points. They've won three of those games by eight and another by seven - close enough to give the defense practice at some version of the prevent and the offense work on the run-heavy, clock-killing ``four-minute drill.''

But when it comes to that desperation drive with the clock running out, the kind perfected in this city by John Elway in the 1980s and 90s - nada.

Practice situations, says offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, can take a team only so far.

``The most important thing as a coach is to prepare your players for that,'' he said. ``We talk about situational football every day. If this situation comes up, what would we do? On the weekends after you see certain games, as a staff you talk about certain situations in other games and then you try to relay that message to the players.''

Last season, the Broncos had no shortage of real-life, late-game stress situations. With Tim Tebow at quarterback, they got the winning score in six games in the last two minutes of regulation or overtime.

This season, Manning has, in fact, engineered three game-winning drives in the fourth quarter to bring his career total to 48, the most in the NFL since the 1970 merger. But none of these has been a nail-biter. The latest go-ahead score came with 9:03 remaining in the Oct. 15 game against San Diego - the Broncos overcame a 24-0 deficit for a 35-24 win to start their winning streak.

Eric Decker, who has been in Denver for both Tebow and Manning, said every practice this year includes two-minute drills and lots of scenarios ``just to make sure we have things planned before we get into it.''

``But we have a lot of guys in this locker room who were here last year,'' Decker said. ``To be able to play from behind is something you can't practice but it's something you build as you have experience and have success with it. I think we've had success with it so the confidence is there.''

``But really,'' Decker said, ``our mindset is to get ahead and not have to worry about it.''

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

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Alex Ovechkin takes home ESPY for Best Male Athlete Award

Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books. 

Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs. 

The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993. 

"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. 

Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.

 

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Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

Annually, Forbes releases the worth of all professional sports franchises in the world. Once again, the Washington Redskins are sitting near the top. 

This year the Redskins are ranked the fourth most valuable NFL franchise at $3.1 billion. 

That marks a five percent worth increase from a year ago. They leapfrogged the San Francisco 49ers for a spot in the top four after placing fifth in 2017. They still trail the Dallas Cowboys ($4.8 billion), the New England Patriots ($3.7 billion), and the New York Giants ($3.3 billion).

Compared to other leagues and franchises, the Redskins jumped into the top-10. They are tied for the tenth overall value with the Golden State Warriors who are coming off of their third NBA title in four years.

From year-to-year there is never much movement from the top of the ranking. Once again, the Cowboys are the top team in the world by over $600 million. They were followed by three European soccer teams. In total four NFL teams made up the top-10, the most of any sport. 

2018 Top-10 World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams according to Forbes:

1. Dallas Cowboys, $4.8 billion (NFL)

2. Manchester United, $4.123 billion ( Soccer)

3. Real Madrid, $4.09 billion (Soccer)

4. Barcelona, $4.064 billion (Soccer)

5. New York Yankees, $4 billion (MLB)

6. New England Patriots, $3.7 billion (NFL)

7. New York Knicks, $3.6 billion (NBA)

8. Los Angeles Lakers, $3.3 billion (NBA)

8. New York Giants, $3.3 billion (NFL)

T-10. Golden State Warriors, $3.1 billion (NBA)

T-10. Washington Redskins, $3.1 billion (NFL)

Next five NFL franchises:

13. San Francisco 49ers, $3.05 billion

T-14. Los Angeles Rams, $3 billion 

17. Chicago Bears, $2.85 billion 

T-19. Houston Texans, $2.8 billion

21. New York Jets, $2.75 billion

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