Oh, Christmas morning.
It's that glorious time when people find out if Santa Claus gave them what they asked for. Were they as good as they thought?
They either feel magical glee or crushing disappointment. The latter is an emotion Broncos Country and the Denver Broncos know all too well the last two weeks.
Here's a list of gifts we hope the coaches and players received from Kris Kringle today:
With two games left in the season, and a playoff game set for Monday Night against the Cincinnati Bengals, there is no room for error here. Denver needs all the Christmas joy it can muster.
Instead of asking for a Super Bowl win or even a win over Cincy, the Broncos should have asked for a fruitful second half. Let's start small, and save the big presents last. If Denver has a bountiful second half, it should beat the Bengals and keep its hopes of both alive.
The return of the No Fly Zone should also get checked off the Christmas list. The Broncos secondary was in the holiday spirit against the Pittsburgh Steelers with all of the free miles they gifted. It's time for a return of the secondary we all know and love.
Another big present should be a healthy C.J. Anderson ... well, at least as healthy as he can be at this point. If he's healthy, we talked about what should happen on Monday Night. The best way for that to happen is a healthy Anderson at running back. At least as healthy has he can be.
To help the No Fly Zone return to form, let's also hope for the gift of both Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward. Their absence against the Steelers was a major factor in the outcome. If both return, it would be a huge boost for the defense and the team.
Let's also hope Santa delivered a healthy recovery to David Bruton. On top of playing most of the Pittsburgh game with a broken leg, he epitomizes what the Broncos are all about. The work he does in the community should make all of Broncos Country proud. There's no question he represents all that Pat Bowlen desires in a member of his organization.
The fact that Peyton Manning isn't practicing today is significant. It makes six days since he's done any on-field work. That's a setback.— Lindsay Jones (@bylindsayhjones) December 23, 2015
If Santa were kind, Peyton Manning is feasting on plenty of chicken parm this Christmas. He desperately needs it at this point to regain his health.
Here's another gift Broncos Country should hope is under the tree: No part of the 2006 season and how it ended. Given how the last two games have gone, it's as if the Ghost of Broncos' Past is deciding to have a little fun. The current Denver team needs to shake free from those chains and create its own story.
By now, Demaryius Thomas and Vernon Davis have hopefully feasted on some confidence pills that would bring them some of Cris Carter's catching mojo. It would help both make plays when it matters most for the team.
Perhaps if they left out some extra tasty cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison will remember what it's like to call running plays. The fact this even needs to be asked for baffles Santa (as well as of us). It's mind boggling these two have abandoned the running game like the have when you consider the success it's brought them in the past. They must embrace it once again if there's any chance for a win on Monday.
Let's also hope Santa pulled a gift out of his bag that will make Brock Osweiler halt his best Manning happy feet impression and remember how he played in the first half for the second. Playing with the same confidence will help the running game, and thus the offense, and with it improve the play in the second half. If there's any chance for a win on Monday, that also must happen.
And what's that other shiny gift under the tree? Could it be a little gadget that makes DeMarcus Ware return to what he was prior to his back injury? He played a little over 30 snaps against the Steelers, so hopefully he takes a few more steps to return to the dominating presence he once was. That will help Von Miller, Shaquil Barrett and Shane Ray. Check that: It will just improve the whole defense.
And let's not forget to look in the Christmas stocking for an answer to whatever nonsense happens at halftime. Let's hope going forward, it's scrapped and Denver tries something different and new. It's clear what has happened the last two weeks hasn't worked.
But above all of that, let's hope Santa helps the Broncos play a complete game - free from stupid mistakes, penalties, drops and bonehead plays/calls. Play like the Broncos. Like we saw against the Green Bay Packers, in the second half against the New England Patriots and the first half against the Steelers. Play like that for 60 minutes. With two games left, Denver is running out of time to make that happen. No better place to start than on Monday.
When the Broncos awoke this beautiful morning, they better not have found a bunny suit (the embarrassing second-half showings the last two weeks) but a Red Ryder BB Gun under the tree (that 60-minute game that won't shoot your eye out).
Merry Christmas, Broncos Country.