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Best Of 2016

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Dog Park

Even if we were dogs — no, wait, especially if we were dogs — Cherry Creek State Park's Dog Off-Leash Area would be our pick for the perfect park. Referred to as "Disney for dogs" by its many fans, the 107-acre, fenced-in doggie dreamland features everything a canine would put on a fantasy must-have list. First of all, Cherry Creek runs through it, so there's plenty of water to slurp, swim and splash in. There's also a wide gravel trail that's easy to follow, and the endless spurs from it wind through acres of brush and small stands of trees, and across the open plains — all ideal for a good, long, fast run or for wrestling with other dogs. And besides other dogs, there are often small critters that need to be investigated. Adults will appreciate the clean restrooms and abundance of bags and receptacles; the level area is accessible and easily navigated year-round; and sunrise and sunset are usually spectacular — though sunrise is generally far less crowded than at the peak times of mid-morning and after humans get off work. At off-peak times, though, it often feels as though you and your pooches are on your own for a great hike. There's a fee — if you plan to go often, it makes sense to buy a state parks pass — but it's well worth the price if it means your dog will snooze for the rest of the day.

Readers' choice: Chatfield State Park

4201 S. Parker Rd., Aurora, 80014
MAP
303-690-8238
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Best Guess for When Denver Will Go Back to the Super Bowl

Since the Broncos triumphed in Super Bowl 50 earlier this year, a lot of things have happened, many of them troubling. Malik Jackson, Danny Trevathan and David Bruton, key role players on the defensive squad that was primarily responsible for the victory, have been lured away by big free-agent bucks, and with Peyton Manning's retirement and the mutiny of Brock Osweiler — the heir-apparent signal caller who wasn't — the quarterback situation is uncertain at best. Yet the team's core talent remains — and remains hungry. Give the brain trust a year to put the pieces back together, then get ready for another run for glory.

Readers' choice: 2020
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Best Bronco

We loved Von Miller before loving Von Miller was cool: He first won his Best Bronco award in 2012, when he was a rookie, and we've been on the bandwagon ever since. This year, though, he took his Von-ness to a new level. His hilarious sack dances — including the Key & Peele-inspired routine that earned him a fine from the NFL — prefigured his naming as a contestant on the next edition of Dancing With the Stars; he's a master when it comes to Instagram and Snapchat; and his interviews (about, among other things, his obsession with raising chickens) are consistently bizarre and hilarious. Oh, yeah: He was also the Most Valuable Player during Super Bowl 50 in every way imaginable. No wonder we love Miller time.

Readers' choice: Von Miller
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Best Rockie

You'd think being the best Rockie wouldn't be that tough, given how bad the team was last year. But Arenado would have been the top player on plenty of other, much better squads, too. He hits for power, slugging a team-leading 42 home runs in 2015. But he's also a great situational batter, which explains how he managed to average a very solid .287 even as he racked up an impressive 177 hits and drove in 130 runs. Moreover, his fielding is outstanding, as he demonstrated during a flipping, back-twisting grab last April against the San Francisco Giants that was one of the most frequently replayed defensive highlights of the year.

Readers' choice: Nolan Arenado
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Best Nugget

It was another lost season for the Nuggets, who often looked confused, disinterested or some combination thereof. But Barton was a big exception. When he came to Denver in a 2015 trade with the Portland Trail Blazers, he was a little-known quantity in these parts. But he soon made a name for himself off the bench, bringing much-needed energy, offensive creativity and hops so impressive that he was invited to take part in this year's NBA All-Star slam-dunk competition. And even though he frequently comes off the bench, he's the team's second-leading scorer, behind only the oft-injured Danilo Gallinari. In a unit that has underachieved, Barton's done the opposite.

Readers' choice: Kenneth Faried
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Best Av

Matt Duchene comes in for plenty of criticism, in part because he was foreseen to be a truly transcendent player, and thus far he's been only a very good one for a team that seems ready to take the next step quality-wise but hasn't been consistent enough to do it. Still, Duchene is typically the Avs' biggest goal-scorer and points-generator, as well as the one player that opponents must account for whenever he's on the ice. Moreover, he's still a mere 25, meaning that he's got plenty of time to become the difference-maker so many prognosticators envisioned.

Readers' choice: Matt Duchene
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Best Dog Park: Cherry Creek State Park

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