Unfinished Business '15: Three Rivers Crossroads

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Hi folks! Welcome to another installment of "Unfinished Business". I will discuss (without vomiting) the absolute turd of a game against the Raiders and take a look at a big game that this team faces against the Steelers.

Oakland - Denver hosted the reeling Raiders and had a golden opportunity to take the lead for home-field advantage thanks to the Bengals' loss to the Steelers. Unfortunately, the Broncos turned into braying donkeys in front of their home fans to lose another home game to a division rival. I would be more OK about this loss if this game was close and hard fought, but the mistakes were self inflicted and provided the Raiders to "steal the game" in the words of their lone terrorizing force, Khalil Mack. Mack took advantage of both tackles (he ran over Ryan Harris and don't get me going on Michael Schofield....oops too late. I'll talk about him later) to the tune of FIVE SACKS. The two halves of the game couldn't be more different, but the theme was established that the offense completely crapped the bed in regards of finishing drives in the first half. FOUR DRIVES into the red zone netted a measly 12 points. The play calling was questionable at best thanks to calling running plays with our smallest back up the middle for losses. The passing game was having a lot of success early, but bad drops killed many TD chances and it bit them later when they were wide open (see Thomas and Davis on that).

Injuries finally caught up with the Broncos this game and it showed. The offense missed CJ Anderson, a FB and too many OL on IR. What I saw of this OL, Michael Schofield has no business playing in the NFL. He has been schooled way too much this season and Sunday's game was beyond costly. On defense, they played out of their minds for one half, but gave up an awful opening drive in the second half where Oakland added an extra OL and max protected Derek Carr. The TEs were way too productive against this D. This D almost prevented the game winning TD, but with Danny Trevathan, TJ Ward, Omar Bolden and David Bruton missing thanks to injuries, Denver had to sign Shiloh Keo off the street. His slipping on the turf ensured the TE to be wide open. After seeing that, I hope that Keo is cut as soon as those three are healthy. They can't heal fast enough. This off-season will be interesting in who the Broncos keep and who they will get to fill in the glaring deficiencies on the offensive side of the ball. At this time and I'm sure most of you would agree, the needs are: LT, RT, C and FB on the offense. Defensively, finding a way to keep as many of these guys on the team is all I can ask for. John Elway has a lot of wheeling and dealing to do this Spring.

Despite all of this, and as pathetic as it sounds, Denver still could have won the game if it weren't for the revolting play of its Special Teams. These guys definitely got off the short bus this past Sunday. Britton Colquitt punted like a wannabe high school punter with the exception of one longer punt that barely got 40 yards. Not to be outdone, the sure-handed Emmanuel Sanders muffed a punt and lost the ball. This play sealed Denver's fate because a few plays later, the TE caught the pass to give them the lead.

Regardless on who was QB of this team, the OL's garbage play cost the Broncos a ton of positioning in the playoff race and there is a possibility of them not even winning the AFC West. The Chiefs are a hot team now thanks to playing a ton of cream puffs and not making the mistakes that the Broncos are habitually making lately. You will have to pardon me on this, but this team is not good at all right now. Their defense is banged up and getting no help. The OL is a dumpster fire and it shows by the lack of rushing production and the lack of time for Os. Os needed Manning's release speed to even come close to getting the ball out most of the time. At this rate, we will have to be fortunate if this team wins another game. There are three games to go and at least two of them are winnable. The Bengals game could be a win thanks to Andy Dalton breaking his thumb, but it will be a defensive slugfest. The Chargers game should be a win, but they almost got KC in Arrowhead with their MASH unit. This will be another game that should be dominated by the defense. After yesterday, they could easily finish 10-6 and become a Wild Card team. Well, now since I got that off of my chest, it's time to look at the next challenge......

Pittsburgh- Denver travels to play the Steelers and both teams are now in a "must win" mode. Pittsburgh is chasing the Chiefs and Jets for the Wild Card and has an outside chance of winning the AFC North if Cincy falters the next three games. The Broncos need this game to clinch a playoff spot and keep the division lead on KC. Pittsburgh is coming in winning four of their last five games. Their lone loss in the streak was to the Seahawks and they had some stupid plays that cost them that game. Other than that slip-up, they are playing good football. Their strength is their passing offense with Big Ben slinging it all over the place with Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton reaping in most of the rewards. Their TEs are also a threat to make noise. Wade Phillips will have to dial up some major pressure to get to Ben. Hopefully we will see Ward, Bruton and Trevathan back this week because they will be huge in coverage. This game will easily be the biggest test of the "No Fly Zone". Their WRs all have speed and they have great hands. The secondary and LBs will have to cover even longer than normal if the rush doesn't get to the QB. As of now, the weather should not be a factor at Heinz Field with highs in the 40's so that should help in ball-handling. Denver's pass rush will be greatly needed and the sacks will have to come early and often. DeAngelo Williams is leading the team in rushing thanks to Le'Von Bell being put on IR. The DL will have to stay on their toes to stuff the run and collapse the pocket on Ben. On the outside, they will have to keep containment to prevent him from scrambling and buying extra time to throw the ball.

Offensively, just make positive plays and not turn the ball over. Denver's receivers and TEs need to visit the jugs machine to practice their catches and kick fielding. This team can't afford a mistake if they want to play into January. The coaching staff must find ways to protect Os and help their sorry excuse of a OL (which wasn't done against Oakland) to open some running lanes and give Os time to pass. I'm pretty bearish on this team right now and instinctively I'm marking this down as a loss. I hope I'm wrong and that they will surprise me with getting a win. That's all I have and Go Broncos (I hope).

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