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NFL weekly picks Peyton picks up Broncos, transfers them to top

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The difference Peyton Manning has made in Denver actually is measurable.

Try from 8-8, which the Broncos were a year ago in winning the AFC West, to 12-3. Try losing their final three games of 2011 and sneaking in through the back door of the playoffs to winning their last 11 and moving into the post-season as the NFL's best team.

Those are the numbers, along with Denver (No. 1 in the AP Pro32) being a 16-point favourite over Kansas City (No. 32, AP Pro32), which is 2-13.

What Manning has brought to the Broncos in swagger, confidence and performance has been impressive even by the four-time league MVP's standards.

Don't look for any temporary respite in any of those areas against the weak Chiefs.

"We talk about that a lot, not coasting, pedal downhill," coach John Fox said. "I appreciate him. I think that's a big reason why he's accomplished what he's accomplished, whether it's here or in Indianapolis. He's a tremendous competitor, doesn't let up. I think that's how you need to be to be successful."

Few teams have been more successful this season than the Broncos. Kansas City has no chance Sunday.

BRONCOS, 37-6

No. 20 Carolina (plus 4) at No. 16 New Orleans

After this, Saints will be unburdened from bounties that damaged season.

BEST BET: SAINTS, 40-27

No. 31 Jacksonville (plus 5 1/2 )

at No. 26 Tennessee

As bad as Jaguars might be, Titans look worse right now.

UPSET SPECIAL: JAGUARS, 17-13

No. 14 Dallas (plus 3 1/2 ) at No. 9 Washington

NBC and NFL get their wish: tight game between archrivals to win division.

REDSKINS, 29-27

No. 7 Houston (minus 6 1/2 )

at No. 10 Indianapolis

Texans never have won at Indy. They won't start now.

COLTS, 27-24

No. 19 Miami (plus 11) at No. 4 New England

Patriots playing for a bye, just might get it.

PATRIOTS, 30-17

No. 3 Green Bay (minus 3) at No. 12 Minnesota

Shouldn't be playing hunches so late in season. But ...

VIKINGS, 24-23

No. 27 Arizona (plus 15) at No. 6 San Francisco

Minnesota's win gives 49ers shot at a bye.

49ERS, 30-9

No. 18 St. Louis (plus 10) at No. 5 Seattle

Our ears still are ringing from the noise level at CenturyLink.

SEAHAWKS, 31-20

No. 8 Baltimore (plus 3) at No. 11 Cincinnati

These teams could meet in wild-card round next week.

RAVENS, 20-19

No. 29 Philadelphia (plus 9 1/2 )

at No. 15 New York Giants

Big last stand for Michael Vick and Andy Reid? Nah.

GIANTS, 24-13

No. 13 Chicago (minus 3) at No. 28 Detroit

Reeling Bears still have playoff shot. Lions have packed it in.

BEARS, 27-17

No. 24 New York Jets (plus 3) at No. 25 Buffalo

Go with the losing team with less turmoil.

BILLS, 24-16

No. 23 Cleveland (OFF) at No. 17 Pittsburgh

Strange not seeing Steelers in contention. Not strange with Browns.

STEELERS, 17-13

No. 22 Tampa Bay (OFF) at No. 2 Atlanta

Falcons won't have meaningful game for two more weeks.

FALCONS, 27-23

No. 30 Oakland (OFF) at No. 21 San Diego

Norv Turner could be leaving with a two-game winning streak.

CHARGERS, 30-10

2012 RECORD

Against spread: 12-4 (105-118-7). Straight up: 13-3 (147-88-1)

Best Bet: 7-7-2 against spread, 11-5 straight up.

Upset special: 11-5 against spread, 9-7 straight up.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 27, 2012 D8

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