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Broncos vs Raiders: The No Bull Review

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The Denver Broncos finally got an "easy" game in week 17 after a grueling series of games all season long. We got a much-needed win to seize the 2nd seed in the AFC Playoff picture thanks to a very solid team effort from all three phases.

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

We finished the season in style hanging a forty-burger on the lowly Oakland Raiders. That's good Broncos football right there. I hope Broncos Country got a nice sigh of relief from the win and enjoys the bye week heading into the playoffs. Our team needs the week off desperately so we can hopefully get a LB back to make our defense whole again.

Offense

0 TDs...Boo hoo hoo

I'm going to start this party off with a little lip for the Negative Nancy fans out there in Bronco Country that are crying foul over Peyton not having a "good game." Sorry guys, but that dog don't walk. 21 passes completed for 273 yards. That's over 10 yards per pass. There's the short of it. For the long of it, let me remind you we won 47 - 14. Seven of those points were by the defense. The other 40 were due to our offense clicking.

I'll gladly take zero touchdowns from Peyton the rest of the year for 40 offensive points per game

I just think it is a bit crazy to pine for the days of last season where Peyton was throwing for 3 TDs all the time, but our team had no balance on defense because they were gassed all game. We know how that story ends. It ends on the wrong side of 43 - 8. If Manning is all you have, then all the defenses need to do to stop our offense is keep him uncomfortable and take away his favorite plays.

So yeah, I'll gladly take 0 TDs from Peyton the rest of the year for 40 offensive points per game...with our running game clicking and our defense playing the way it is, that will lead to a lot of easy wins in the postseason and an easy win in the Super Bowl.

About the passing game

Our passing game troubles begin and end with our offensive line. I don't know why we think our tackles can handle the monster pass rushers from other teams solo when they have so consistently showed that they are vulnerable (both...I'm including Ryan Clady and Louis Vasquez here).

Look, I know it is what it is. Neither of these guys is going to play any better this year. If Clady is gimped up (which I think is likely), he's not going to be back to dominating until next year. Vasquez is just not built to play RT. He doesn't have the quickness needed to block the premier pass rushers.

That being said, what is driving me nuts is our offense's refusal to chip block or double up on those beastly pass rushers. Sure C.J. can get out in the flat and maybe get us 4 yards on a 3rd and 7, but why not have him double up on Justin Tuck and let Manning take another 1.5 seconds to hit something down the field a bit?

Chime in on the comments about this one Broncos Country! Why do you think we aren't seeing this?

The running game rolls on

C.J. Anderson still looks awesome to me and that's very reassuring this late in the year. If he were a flash in the pan, things would have cooled off by now. But this is what great RBs do: they average 6.7 yards per carry and score 3 TDs against bad teams.

While there's a lot to worry about in our O-line for pass blocking, I'm not worried about them nearly as much when we run. There were some very nice combo blocks happening and a lot of us getting push where we needed it to create creases for CJ and Ronnie Hillman.

Speaking of Hillman, I was very excited to see him back on the field. I love Juwan Thompson, but Ronnie was looking very good this season and is going to be a great 2nd back for us in the post season. I'm cheering hard for him to house a long run for us and really make teams head's spin this post-season!

What's with the drops?

I don't have the official tally and maybe my eyes are deceiving me (this is where Topher is reading and nodding in agreement), but it looked to me like our WRs dropped a ton of passes this game. I would prescribe to them all some extra Juggs time during the bye week if I were the WR coach, but maybe that's just me.

Demaryius Thomas still looks dinged up on the field, albeit a step better than last week. I think the week off is going to benefit him just as much as it will anyone else. He was running routes decently enough, but his short-area twisting and grabbing appeared to be a hair off from what I saw.

Emmanuel Sanders on the other hand was having a pretty sick game as usual and didn't appear to be out of sorts much to my eye. Its so good to have a burner like him that has the ability to make acrobatic catches down the field.

I think the week off is going to benefit Demaryius as much as it will anyone

Cody Latimer in da house!!! Well...sorta. Dude dropped an easy catch that had me shaking my head in disappointment. That was an easy catch in the NFL. If you can't make those, how are you going to ever see the field?

Wes Welker is still getting his handful of targets per game and it is a very sharp tool in the belt for the offense from what I'm seeing. In an offense like we run now you just won't get to see a lot of a 3rd WR getting a ton of catches. Situationally he's making a difference for us though.

Virgil Green was finally being used in the passing game which was really refreshing to see. Let me point out that this helps our team by taking away a play queue for them to key off of. Also the TD catch he got was solid and showed that he's got the goods to do more.

Defense

Our defensive corps

I honestly think as a fan base we're quite spoiled and have kind of taken our defensive line for granted. Sure, the pass rush seems to have cooled off a whole lot (I blame our vanilla play calling honestly...if you only always rush 4 teams can easily counter your two outside guys). I remember a time not too long ago where we were pining for our team to draft some DTs and DEs and were groaning and aching at how bereft of talent we were. This year we have been blessed and it showed up in this game.

Oakland's team has leaned on its run game for any semblance of success. 66 yards against us. That's pitiful and it starts right up front in the middle. Terrance Knighton, Sylvester Williams, Derek Wolfe, and Malik Jackson are where it is at, ladies and gentlemen. Don't forget them in your praise for our team. Just because the NFL has become more and more about the passing game doesn't mean you should take for granted the effectiveness of your defense against the run. Trust me: if a team can run the ball, they will glady do that instead of pass. Teams don't get that option against us.

Von Miller looked very disruptive again and I'm excited for him and DeMarcus Ware to get a week to rest. Miller only got home once, but he was up in Carr's grill hurrying him at least 10 times.

Speaking of Demarcus, I think it is fair to question if we paid a bit much for an aged veteran at this point. He's really fallen off in the back half of the season and hasn't been impacting nearly as much as earlier in the season. I've also noticed that he's around plays more in the first half than the second, though I think that may be me just following a bread crumb trail more than anything.

The Achilles heel

Let's give Todd Davis a little credit this week. He looked much improved this week. There weren't any glaring missed tackles. I did see one poor coverage play by him, but that was easily made up for by two other coverage plays where he played it as perfect as an LB can.

I didn't see very much of Corey Nelson, but when I noticed him he was playing well too. I'm glad to see some of our depth guys filling in well instead of giving up 85 yard TD runs.

Also worthy of some praise is Lerentee McCray. I've liked his play this preseason when I saw a lot more of him, and he appears to me to translate it to the field. The unfortunate thing is that he has Von Miller in front of him, but the dude got a sack fumble. That's a game-changing play for a guy and it isn't something just any old linebacker can make happen.

Here's the part though where I rain on the parade a bit. Keep in mind our LBs were facing the Oakland Raiders. This is a dumpster fire team with a rookie QB (though to be fair a somewhat decent looking rookie QB). That was no Tom Brady we were facing who would run plays to get the LBs in coverage and expose them. In short, we really need Brandon Marshall back for the playoff run.

Last but not least

Again we need to temper our expectations here because of the opposition, but our secondary looked like world-beaters in this game.

  • Chris Harris, Jr. was phenomenal against receiving options who had probably 6-8 inches in height on him.
  • Aqib Talib was all over everything with the best example I've seen of handing his guy off to the left side zone coverage and breaking into a pass rush since his side of the field was empty for the sack.
  • Bradley Roby had more good plays than bad again (which is all I would ask from our #3 CB)
  • David Bruton was a phenom in pass defense from the strong safety position. He was breaking up everything and is honestly a better pass defender than T.J. Ward from what I've seen the past few weeks

Special teams

So that move to Connor Barth is looking pretty darn fantastic in hind sight, wouldn't you say? The dude is money and has been a big part of our scoring in the back quarter of the season.

Britt Colquitt really kinda sucked. Let me remind you we were playing at home...this is the place where he should be looking like one of the highest paid punters in the game.  :|

Omar Bolden was a stud in special teams this week. He was making big plays all over the place including a superb kickoff return (so happy Andre Caldwell isn't doing this any longer).

Someone should really talk with Wes Welker about his returns. If you read this Wes, the idea is that you run toward the end zone to gain yards. If you run to the sideline you don't gain us anything and sometimes lose yardage.