1. Little-known fact: The North Carolina doctors who conducted open-heart surgery on John Fox actually made a mistake. They sent the wrong John Fox back to Colorado. How else to explain his risky play-calling on Denver's first offensive possession in Fox's return to the sideline? The Broncos received a kickoff from the Titans. On fourth-and-1, Fox ordered the Broncos to go for the first down. They got it. On fourth-and-goal, Fox ordered the Broncos to go for the touchdown. They got it. When the Broncos put the game in Peyton Manning's hands, they are at their best. And they've never lost that gamble, going 7 for 7 on fourth-down conversions this season.
2. I didn't think the Kevin Costner flick "Waterworld" was all that bad. Did you? Maybe the ending was a tad cheesy. Perhaps it was the pre-release hype that made "Waterworld" a loser before it could become a winner. Thursday-night NFL games follow a similar script. From a fan's perspective, the idea is a no-brainer. Let's take America's most popular game and toss it in the midweek TV lineup. The problem has been the quality of the games. The first "Thursday Night Football" game had just two touchdowns (Patriots 13, Jets 10). That one previewed a run of blowouts (Niners 35, Rams 11), mismatches (Panthers 31, Bucs 13) and also-rans (Vikings 34, Redskins 27). Players loathe the short week, which leads to injuries and shoddy play. "I'm not a fan of the Thursday games," Manning said. His last one went OK: Manning threw seven touchdowns vs. Baltimore.
3. Like real estate, location in the NFL is everything. The Patriots are lucky to be in the AFC East. It usually stinks. Since 2003, the Pats have won nine of 10 division titles. In that span, the AFC East has produced only four wild-card playoff teams. It must be nice to enter a season with 5-6 wins in your back pocket, right? That's the kind of enviable formula that leads to home games in the playoffs. Likewise, the AFC West has been weak the past few years, if not this year. The Broncos took full advantage. Denver can clinch its third-straight division title with a win Thursday and a Chiefs loss (at Oakland) Sunday. The Broncos have won 10 straight against division rivals.