HOUSTON — The NFL is on Santa's nice list, not his naughty list. Except for the Raiders. The Raiders are always on the naughty list.
'Tis the season for gift-giving. Here's our wish list for the Broncos and their football friends:
John Fox - A John Fox bobblehead. When it's fourth-and-short and the ultimate quarterback glances to the sideline for the go-ahead, this handy gift is ready to provide the only answer necessary: Yes, Peyton. Go for it.
Wes Welker - Freedom of choice. It's your career, sir. Don't let these armchair doctors tell you to retire. It's 2013, and all the necessary information on concussions is on the table. If you want to continue playing football, please, do your thing.
Texans - A trade partner. As it stands Sunday, when the Texans host the Broncos, Houston would own the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft on May 8. But this gift comes with a catch. The best eligible QB prospect I saw this college football season was Fresno State's Derek Carr, not Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater. Yes, that Derek Carr. David's brother. David Carr is the Texans' record holder for career starts (75). He's also their record-holder for worst win percentage (.293). So you can't draft the brother. Instead, here's a draft-day trade partner. The Carr family thanks you.
Thunder - A vacation with Todd Helton's horse. You've earned it, ya big stud. With the Broncos unloading for 40 offensive and defensive touchdowns at home this season - 12 more than the NFL average - no one's galloped harder, or farther.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - A healthy shoulder. Here's hoping it's not aching as much as I suspect. Only a Grinch would send the Broncos into the AFC playoffs with a secondary of ailing DRC, Champ Bailey, Kayvon Webster and Rahim Moore (maybe). Without them, the Broncos defense is Whoville. Remember what Tom Brady did to the Broncos with DRC sidelined for the second half in Foxboro? That's no Christmas treat.
Trindon Holliday - Sticky gloves. The risk-reward return man bears a rare title: the only NFL player who makes his own team as nervous as the other team.
Mike Shanahan - A new gig, in Dallas. Watch Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stick it to the rival Redskins. Hire Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator, Wade Phillips as defensive coordinator, someone other than Shanahan as personnel director. Trade Tony Romo for the Bears quarterback. Get the (Broncos) band back together.
Broncos fans - A Super Bowl parade. I posed a simple question to linebacker Danny Trevathan, who's on the nice list for being the most reliable of Broncos defenders this season: What would you get the Broncos for Christmas? "A ring," he said. "I'd get 'em all a ring." That should extend to Broncos Country, as loyal as it is spoiled. Orange jerseys accounted for 30 percent of the crowd at Dallas, maybe 40 percent in San Diego. Home or road, Tim Tebow or Peyton Manning, there's no more devoted fans.
Chiefs - A third game against the Broncos. The first two weren't as close as 27-17 and 35-28 suggested. KC wasn't on Denver's level. But the offense has grown, and it says here the Chiefs represent the top challenger to the Broncos' Super Bowl hopes.
Peyton Manning - A unanimous MVP vote. This should be your sixth MVP award, if voters had done the wise thing last year. Five will do, extending his NFL record. "I don't think it's close, personally," Fox said. The MVP is announced Super Bowl Eve, Feb. 1, and Manning should sweep all 50 votes. Unanimous probably won't happen, since media love being contrarians for the sake of being contrarians. Tom Brady, after tossing 50 touchdowns in 2007, earned 49 votes. Brett Favre got the 50th.
Tim Tebow - The humility to accept a move to tight end. The NFL, not to mention sports-talk radio, is more fun when it's Tebow Time.
Raiders - Coal, of course. Or Tebow at quarterback.
Ravens - A return trip to Sports Authority Field in the playoffs. Baltimore currently owns the No. 6 seed. Denver is the No. 1. If that holds, and the Ravens win their Wild Card game, they would return to Denver. The rematch could be played one year, to the day, after the Mile High Mistake, on Jan. 12.
This is all quite familiar. In the 1996 playoffs, the Jaguars upset the top-seeded Broncos. The following season, the Jags returned to Denver for a playoff game, and the Broncos exacted revenge with a 42-17 rout. Does Santa have deja vu?
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. - A heat wave, right around Feb. 2.
Claire Davis - Prayers. Keep fighting. This Christmas is for Arapahoe High School, and you.