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Broncos 24, Bills 17: Instant Reactions

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The Broncos were never really threatened, but they never actually nailed the coffin shut.

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

I get it, I really do. The Broncos won the game, so everyone needs to be happy. Hell, they beat a competitive team that is battling for a playoff berth, so why am I left so deflated? Maybe it's all of the defensive meltdowns or Manning interceptions. Maybe it's the constant 4th down conversions allowed or the fact that Kyle Orton looked more like Peyton Manning than Peyton Manning did? Make no mistake, I love our running game, but why is Peyton looking so pedestrian lately? Is he that much of a rhythm quarterback to where if it isn't Air Manning, he's just another guy?

Then there is our defense. They played good most of the time, but man, all these missed tackles and soft coverage madness has to stop. We have amazing cover corners, yet we don't allow them to cover. We got a ton of pressure on Orton, yet we still allow teams (not just the Bills) to convert 3rd and 4th and forever on us. Why? How? Why? I swear, I like our defense's chances better on 3rd & 1 more than 3rd & 16. If I'm feeling like this, then it can't be a good thing.

Luckily the Broncos were never actually threatened. They got an early lead and never got tested by the Bills. Sure, the score said the Broncos won by seven, but honestly, the Broncos never got tested. This had the feel of a 34-3 game more than a 24-17 game. However, things need to tighten up going forward if Super Bowls are truly the goal.

Offense:

Peyton Manning only missed six passes all night, but when two of them are interceptions and another two of them almost got Emmanuel Sanders killed, I'm going to call it a bad night for #18. Regardless of how badly he played tonight, and yes, he played poorly for any professional's standard, he got the team to a 10-3 record and I always had that feeling that if Peyton had to turn it on, he could. I was sad to see his touchdown streak end at 51 games. I guess today just wasn't Peyton's day. I really hope he isn't like Randy Moss who kinda checks out of games if he isn't involved early, cause that's exactly what it looked like. His stat sheet is "average" quarterback worthy, not slam dunk hall of fame worthy.

C.J. Anderson played tough. He had three touchdowns against that ridiculous Bills defensive line, and on a bum wheel no less. We all knew running would be hard against this line, but I really was encouraged that he was as effective as he was against that line. Get well soon CJ, we'll need you healthy going forward.

And speaking of running backs, how about Juwan Thompson? Dude played like a beast and picked up where C.J. left off.

I was happy to see Wes Welker show up yet again, but I was discouraged to see that even though Julius Thomas was active, that he was a complete non-factor. Why activate JT and then trot out Jacob Tamme only to watch him fumble? I just don't get it.

Emmanuel Sanders is still a stud and consistently beat his coverage. He can't be covered and he's only being held back by a quarterback who is in a slump. The same can be said about Demaryius Thomas, even though he was injured and wasn't as effective as he could have been.

I'm not sure how I can convey that I like our offense even though they left at least 21 points on the board. That inconsistency and sloppy play won't get it done in January. I also don't want to put a bunch on Manning, but honestly, he was probably the worst offensive player on our team today. I wonder when the last time that happened while his team ended up winning? That is why balance is so important and why Peyton really needs to be able to find his game amidst a strong rushing attack. If he can't, then the narrative about him has already been written. This team could still go on to win, but it sure wouldn't be because of him.

Defense:

I loved that we got pressure on Kyle Orton, but I hated all of the throws they allowed him to complete. Pressuring him is great, and sacking him is great, but allowing 3rd & long and 4th & long conversions takes away all the atta boy's that the defense built up with the pressures and sacks.

Von Miller was lights out. So was Chris Harris Jr..  Brandon Marshall was his usual self as well, and my boy Steven Johnson showed up early.

I'm still not sure why everyone says Talib is so amazing? He looks totally average to me. Talib's averageness is kind of like Peyton's averageness today. I could have picked a CB and QB's name out of a hat from all the NFL's starters on winning teams, and we would have had about the same play from both. Color me confused as to why we are paying him so much.

Special Teams:

I actually like the two kicker approach. We need touchbacks because our coverage is horrible, which makes having a kickoff specialist an absolute must have. On the flip side, having a kicker who we have confidence in to hit a 50 yard field goal is a must have. It sucks that it takes two positions to get the job done, but what is this team's options? Missing everything beyond 25 yards for field goals, or never getting touchbacks? I think not. Color me pleased with the dual kickers.

Our return game, even Bubba, was impressive tonight. We even managed to have a few good coverage tackles. Our special teams didn't hurt us this game unlike in games past. I still get scared watching them play, yes, but make no mistakes, the special teams are playing better.

Coaching Staff:

I don't really have any beefs about this coaching staff aside from a few "WTF" moments out of Jack Del Rio. You need to have your defense play more stout than that, and you need to tighten up on all of these long conversions. That's about all I have to say about our coaching staff.

Overall, this was a game who's outcome was decided relatively early. There was zero chance of the Bills beating the Broncos, but it was hardly the dominant victory that should have happened. There are plays and situations that need to be cleaned up in the waning weeks of the season, but I'll take a good victory when I can. I'm really loving the balance, but I'm absolutely hating Peyton's effectiveness. He was "just another guy" today. I'm not saying I'd take anyone else but him, I'm just saying that he needs to find a way to play better when the focus isn't 100% on him. Other QB's can do it, so I expect no less out of him.

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