If you didn't know, the Broncos are just one of seven teams undefeated in the NFL right now and are going to be home after a two-week road trip in which this team handled some serious business beating the Chiefs and the Lions in their home stadiums.
If you need to PANIC
If you need to PANIC
But don't panic (well, ok, you can if you want to) because ADanishMan has some truth for us to consider and that involves a further improved Broncos offense along with our business-as-usual attacking defense.
Adrian Peterson is going to need that camel if he's going to run past this defense. And now the offensive line will likely get its biggest test so far when it faces the very stout Vikings D-line, and the Broncos defense will have its hands full with AP.
But before "we're on to Minnesota," let's do a quick recap with last week's awesome fan, SaguaroBronco!
Broncos 24, Lions 12
Bottom line, I'm glad to report that my prediction of a Bronco victory came to pass. In most phases of the game, things went generally as expected. The defense continued their aggressive style of play and "eclipsed" the Lions offense (as a side note, it was a good sign watching a Bronco orange moon rising over the Santa Catalina Mountains during the ad breaks of the Lions game). As someone who enjoys watching good secondary play, it was nice seeing Talib keep Megatron generally under control and seeing Roby and Bruton make interceptions from smart secondary play, understanding what the Broncos defense was doing and how the Lions were reacting to that pressure. The Ware-led pass rush got the 4 sacks I expected, although the Lions tackles didn't seem as bad as what I had been reading on the Pride of Detroit comment threads.
On the offensive side, the pass offense seemed more in sync, operating more out of the pistol than we'd seen in the first two games and the OL showed better PFF grades. Manning's completion percentage was in the ballpark of what I expected and he threw for 2 TDs. The run game, however, continued to be unproductive, which led to a less balanced run:pass ratio than I'd like to see. The run blocking still looked uncoordinated - there were times it looked like individuals were losing the battle with their defender, times where it looked like the timing was off, and times where it looked like the running back penetrated the line but was caught at the second level in a crowded box.
It will be interesting to see how the line play develops over the next few weeks - if it improves as they get more time working together as a group and with runs out of the pistol/shotgun formation, if better production in the passing game opens up the box and sets up a better run game, if it stays at the same general level due to physical/skill limitations of individual players, or if it declines further due to the "I-word".
Special teams continued to look good. The penalty on McManus's initial long kick made my prediction of a single forty-something yard FG look good. McManus continued to drill kickoffs into the end zone even after DT's bogus taunting penalty. I liked seeing the contributions from our starting CB's on the blocked extra point too.
Overall, it was a fun game to watch, even though it was a little closer than my heart would like to see. I think we are going to have to get used to this in some respects - with the defense we have, we aren't going to be out of many/any games, but we may struggle to blow out people as well. I do like the "kicking and screaming" attitude, though, and I'm looking for the Broncos to improve on their weaknesses while they maintain and further hone their strengths.
Awesome stuff, Saguaro...Now on to our Vikings Ultimate Fan Guide!
Broncos v. Vikings
MHR - FINALLY we saw an offense worthy of some praise last week. Does this just get better going forward or are we still going to suffer through a lot of growing pains?
ADanishMan: I think we'll definitely see some improvement. I know the groupthink here at MHR for the past few months has been that it'll take several games for the offensive line to find its cohesion and get the ball rolling. We've seen them come together decently in pass protection, but they're still struggling to open up running lanes. At worst, we have another game like last Sunday where we run a pass-heavy offensive scheme while relying on the defense to give us enough possessions to punch in a score or six.
MHR - Overall, the offensive line played pretty well, allowing only one sack and basically giving Manning his required two seconds to get a play off. How would you rate their performance last week and what is your prediction against Minnesota's pass rushers?
ADanishMan: I think our line looked pretty good overall. They kept Manning relatively clean and handled their assignments, which is about all we can ask of a young line that's still finding its rhythm. Minnesota's defense, which is definitely a step above Detroit's, is averaging two sacks per game. At the absolute worst, they'll tack on one more on Sunday against an offensive line that's putting the finishing touches on its gelling process.
MHR - Just WHAT are we going to do about this running game? Granted, the Broncos have faced top defenses, but what is it going to take to see some 100+ yard games from our running backs?
ADanishMan: Oh man, don't get me started. We had a paltry 41 yards against a Lions front that lost Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley, and C.J. Mosley to free agency. Still, I think that's more on the offensive line than it is our stable of backs. Without creases to burst through, we won't manage to get much rushing production. Like I said, this line needed time to coalesce, and probably still does. If we can't get our rushing attack some holes to hit in the next game or two, I'll be a bit more concerned.
MHR - Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders continue to show why they are easily the top two wide receivers. Did Bennie Fowler make a big enough case last week for being No. 3? Where do Caldwell, Norwood and Latimer fit into this mix?
ADanishMan: Fowler definitely made a statement on Sunday. He was a bit of an MHR darling through the preseason, so it's nice to see him carry that over into meaningful snaps. Norwood hasn't looked too bad in the action he's gotten, either. I think he and Fowler will duke it out for the no. 3 role for another week or so.
Caldwell continues to be the roster enigma that he has been for the last couple seasons. I become actively upset when I see him on the field. He seems to magic his way through the preseason each year only to lay an egg on game day. As for Latimer, I'm becoming more and more disappointed with him. Dude needs to step it up if he wants to be more than a decoy.
Blessed pic.twitter.com/GYdUTNEGUf— Bennie Fowler (@b_fowler13) October 1, 2015
MHR - What offensive stat would you like to see be awesome for the Broncos in this game - and why is that one the most important?
ADanishMan: I want to see a yards-per-carry line that doesn't look like a bad grade point average. I think (read: "hope") this is the week that the run game finally gets out of the mud. Seeing C.J. Anderson return to form would do wonders for this team.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense this Sunday?
ADanishMan: I'm not sure if you can call him a dark horse for this one, but I think Ronnie Hillman has himself a big day. He did nab a touchdown last week while C.J. was being checked for a concussion, but his numbers outside of that weren't great. I think he gets some speed around the edge for a couple big runs.
MHR - This defense has been awesome, but now its got one of the best running backs in the league coming to town, and he got 126 yards last week, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. How confident are you in our defense to shut down Adrian Peterson?
ADanishMan: We're definitely going to have to step up our run defense for this game. Yeah, I know we held Detroit to 28 rushing yards, but they don't have anyone in their backfield that comes close to Peterson. Kansas City does, though, and we allowed Jamaal Charles to put up 125 yards and a score.
I think we can probably keep Peterson largely contained, but one of the detriments of having an attacking defense like ours is that one missed tackle can set a running back loose for a long gain (see: T.J. Ward vs. Jamaal Charles two weeks ago.) If that happens, Adrian Peterson could easily to ride his camel all the way to the end zone.
Adrian Peterson's weird birthday party had a lot of things: lemurs, a camel, port-a-potties... http://t.co/ZusDrWQFvi pic.twitter.com/CF2B4WRn1x— SB Nation (@SBNation) August 20, 2015
MHR - Teddy Bridgewater has strong upside but he's inexperienced. Is this Broncos' D going to eat him alive, or will Peterson be able to make it game for the Vikes?
ADanishMan: If Minnesota is going to have any offensive production, it has to come from Peterson. Teddy Bridgewater is a smart, capable young quarterback who can't scramble and has the arm strength of a small child. Our pass rush will devour him (There's a joke about "Purple People Eaters" in there somewhere.)
MHR - Chad Greenway got a pick-six on Phillip Rivers last weekend and Everson Griffen is second in the league for pressures on the QB. How much of a threat is this Minnesota defense to us?
ADanishMan: The way San Diego played last week, I'm not surprised. Will they be a threat? Sure. That whole front seven is formidable.
Only 1 NFL LB in the last 8 yrs (Matthews, '10) has more QB pressures than @DeMarcusWare thru 3 games (21), via @PFF. pic.twitter.com/3V3POVpR6C— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) October 1, 2015
MHR - What stellar defensive stat for the Broncos are you hoping (planning) to see?
ADanishMan: Picks galore! Our corners can handle Minnesota's wideouts with ease, and with that pass rush bearing down on him, Bridgewater is going to attempt throws that he'll definitely regret.
MHR - Which defensive player will stand out for the Broncos this weekend?
ADanishMan: Brandon Marshall. He and Danny Trevathan are going to be critical in keeping "All-Day" from switching us like his son.
MHR - What overall team statistic would you like to see improved this weekend?
ADanishMan: Definitely rushing yards allowed. We're 7th in the league thus far in that category, giving up 82.7 YPG, and we'll have to maintain or improve on that statistic if we want to win on Sunday.
MHR - Penalties on defense have continued to be an issue (even if occasionally from really bad calls) that have cost the Broncos some big stops. Do the penalties concern you?
ADanishMan: There have been a couple penalties that I wasn't OK with (Von Miller jumping the snap in back to back games, for instance,) but for the most part the penalties have been a side effect of this defense just trying to play fast and aggressive.
MHR - Since you're going to this game, what are you most looking forward to about Mile High? If fans boo the Broncos for their play, would you join?
ADanishMan: Ha! Certainly not. I'm just looking forward to my first regular season game there. (I was at the preseason game vs. Chicago during the Orton years ... that wasn't good.) I'm definitely excited though.
Stats for Manning? 25 of 36, 315 yards, 2 TDs/0 (Zero!) INTs
Number of yards rushing - Anderson, 65; Hillman, 60; Thompson, 25.
Which receiver gets the most yards? Demariyus Thomas, 8/80 and a score
Number of sacks to Manning? ONE
Number of sacks on Teddy Bridgewater? Four
Broncos player with most sacks? Von Miller, with plenty of NSFW dances to boot
How many INTs for the Broncos D? Two
Bronco with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall (10)
Number of penalties on the Broncos offense/defense? Three on offense, three on defense
Number of field goals/longest by Brandon McManus? Three, 51 yards
Which new player will surprise us on Sunday? I think Evan Mathis will shake off that last bit of rust and give our line the push it needs to kick the running game open.
Final Score? 33-20 Broncos
- Favorite Broncos game EVER that you've watched?It's a popular one, but the Tebow playoff win has to take the cake for me. (The KC win two weeks ago was timeless, though - vintage Peyton and a crushing defense against a rival. What's not to love?)
- Worst loss ever to endure? Super Bowl 48. No dice. I remember right after the safety my dad saying, "If we're down at halftime, I'm switching hats." He did. We still lost.
- Team you absolutely hate losing to? New England. Because, cheaters.
- Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? It's so hard to pick just one! I've gotta go with Chris Harris, Jr. though. Gotta love an underdog who worked through an ACL tear to become the best corner in the league.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? Champ Bailey. He was the first Broncos player I remember watching and being sentient enough to think "Holy cow, this guy is GOOD." (*editor's note: you didn't ask for this, but everyone deserves to see it again):
- What is more insufferable - watching Tom Brady give post-game pressers after a win, Philip Rivers anytime, Phil Simms during a Broncos broadcast or Broncos fans after a close win/near loss? As much as I hate Simms/Tom Shady/Phillip Rivers and his bolo ties, the doom and gloom that comes from this fanbase after a close win is the worst. We've been pretty spoiled the last few years, though. We're so used to greatness that we've forgotten how to be blue-collar and have to grind out wins.
- Best suggestion for nickname of Broncos' Defense? I have no idea! Orange & Blue Crew? Sack Attack? Mile High Madmen? I'm stumped. I kinda like the No Fly Zone though.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I was born into it, luckily. Both of my folks were Broncos fans. I grew up in western South Dakota, where there's plenty of Broncos homers to go around.
Thanks again for having me! Go Broncos! I'll cheer extra loud for you on Sunday ;)