There was a fresh burst of energy emanating from the Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre on Monday, Dec. 2.
As Mike Klis of The Denver Post reported, Denver Broncos head coach John Fox returned to action for the first time in a month after undergoing open-heart surgery on Nov. 4 to replace his aortic valve, and his arrival came at the perfect time:
Coupled with the team's current position as the AFC's top seed and an easy schedule to close out the season, his return makes the Broncos the heavy favorites to represent the conference in the Super Bowl next February.
Fox spoke to reporters on Monday, saying he felt "tremendous," and he's as enthusiastic as ever before after his traumatic experience a month ago, as noted by Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com:
I feel tremendous, obviously the doctors feel good about me getting back to work. ...
I feel as healthy as I've ever felt in the last 20 years. I'm going to be smart. If all of a sudden I can't hold my eyes open, I'm going to go home. But, like I said, the last three weeks I've been operating pretty much as I did the first eight weeks of the season. It's not like I'm moving furniture or doing roofs. I mean, I sit somewhere and watch football. ... [But] the procedure I had; I'm well.
Denver just completed its most difficult stretch of games in Week 13, taking down AFC rival Kansas City at Arrowhead Stadium 35-28 to improve to 10-2 on the season. The Chiefs dropped to second place in the AFC West with a record of 9-3, and they fell all the way to the No. 5 spot in the AFC.
As has been the case all year long, Peyton Manning was unstoppable against the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football, passing for 403 yards with five touchdowns. This team is clearly one of the league's best, and things only get easier going forward.
Barring a catastrophic failure to execute the rest of the way, the Broncos should easily cruise toward the finish line. This team has four more games left to play before that happens, but none of the four teams coming up feature a winning record.
|Denver Broncos Remaining Schedule|
|Week 14||Tennessee Titans||5-7||Lost one|
|Week 15||San Diego Chargers||5-7||Lost one|
|Week 16||@ Houston Texans||2-10||Lost 10|
|Week 17||@ Oakland Raiders||4-8||Lost two|
Of the four, the Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers represent the biggest potential challenges for Denver. However, the Broncos already handled the Chargers earlier this year, and neither team's defense has a chance at stopping Peyton Manning and the Broncos' offensive attack.
What this means is that Fox's return to the rigors of coaching in the NFL should be relatively stress-free for the next four weeks leading up to the league's second—and much more arduous—portion of the season.
For a man who has recently undergone major surgery, this is the best possible scenario. Denver should be able to win out the rest of the way to finish the season as the top seed in the AFC with a record of 14-2, securing home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78.