It's been a short week and thank goodness...I'm not sure we can tolerate any more "banter" with Chiefs fans over here! But thankfully, that game will be on in a few short hours and we will all know the truth. Or at least, our version of it.
No true Broncos fan could have been impressed overall with an offense last week that sputtered in spite of the win. And Chiefs fans - fresh off a big win in Houston - are salivating at the idea of finally getting the best of Peyton Manning and the Broncos, a team and quarterback that have straight up owned them for three years.
But despite the Broncos' 6-0 advantage over the Chiefs the last three seasons, Vegas is giving a three-point edge to the Chiefs tonight, which we all know is the difference between having the home-field advantage and not. And no doubt, Arrowhead is a home-field advantage for the Chiefs.
As SportsBookReview.com editor Zack Jones told me today, the sports books are playing into the media's line on Manning - that he's washed up, can't throw deep anymore, has no touch on the ball, etc., etc. - but secretly planning on Manning being Manning and finding a way to win. So are we.
"If there's one thing we know Peyton does well, it is make adjustments," said Jones, an admitted Chargers fan who doesn't see his team ever winning the AFC West unless Manning retires. And he expects the Broncos to pull it out tonight too, no matter what Vegas says. "I expect Denver to win in KC."
Vegas, schmegas. Our ultimate fans have the real knowledge, and once again, a couple of rookies to MHR are bringing some heat to this discussion with insightful thoughts on tonight's game. And if you need to panic because you're not quite sure...come join us here.
Denver v. Baltimore - a quick recap from spworldtour:
Defensively, the Bronco's did exactly what I hoped for. Sacks + INT's to win the game. Offensively, I said the Bronco's looked weak in preseason, but I never would have predicted that. A few stats from Pro Football Reference to consider:
2014 - avg 403 yds/game Lowest total yds/game = 306
2013 - avg 457 yds/game lowest total yds/game = 295
2012 - avg/ 398 yds/game lowest total yds/game= 334
2014 - 66.2% comp% 7.9 Yds/att 295 avg yds/game
2013 - 68.3% comp% 8.3 Yds/att 342 avg yds/game
2012 - 68.6% comp% 8.0 Yds/att 291.2 yds/game
Total Denver Offense
2015 - 219 yds
2015 - 60% Comp% 4.4 yds/att 175 yds/game
OK, so lets just say, I'm a believer in Peyton Manning. I think all this talk that he's over the hill, he's done etc., etc., etc., is just so much poppyc#ck.
In putting those numbers together above, Baltimore was a CAREER low game. If it continues, I might have to get off the Peyton Manning train, but we all know this Broncos' offense is dynamite! It's just going to take a few weeks to gel.
Otherwise we did exactly what was anticipated and I'm glad we walked/limped/stumbled away with a win.
Broncos v. Chiefs, take one
MHR - There was a lot of concern about the lack of a powerful offensive start from Manning and Co. against the Ravens. Do you see this as a real problem going forward or more of timing/rhythm/get-on-the-same-page issue?
brknolley23: After attending the game on Sunday and listening to so many growling and moaning fans in the stands, I sat back in my chair and thought to myself, "This team has every single piece you can ask for, all we have to do is put it all together."
The offense is going to be a work-in-progress, and I truly don't see any room for concern yet.
We were breaking in a new offensive scheme against a team that has a great defense year in and year out. So it wasn't the best opponent to break in the new scheme against, but the offense will find its course and hold up its end come playoff time. The o-line will all work itself out; Ty has a lot of potential, and the man we put next to him will be a great mentor and leader for those young offensive linemen.
shellman11: I do see this as a potential problem going forward. In my opinion, Peyton didn't have a fair amount of time to set his feet and get through his progressions on a majority of plays on passing downs. The deep passes to Emmanuel Sanders are a good example, resulting in overthrows.
The O-Line definitely plays into the success of the offense in the passing game. As a group, they were much too porous on Sunday. Even to the untrained eye, it appeared the line was overzealous in putting their hands on anybody versus waiting for a man to come to his spot for the block (Delayed Blitzer). A few of the plays resulting in an untouched man getting to the quarterback could have been avoided if the O-Line had stayed home for half a second to a second longer and picked up the delayed blitzer rather than double teaming a D-lineman with the guy next to him.
MHR - Pro Football Focus reported Manning's arm strength isn't the issue but his ability to fix the line and diagnose the defense before the play is the problem. What do you think of this assessment?
brknolley23: This is inaccurate. Manning has been the best at assessing the line of scrimmage and making the proper calls to have his team prepared to the best of its ability for each and every snap. Like many others I feel this offense will work itself out, too many offense and football gurus around the Broncos facilities to make this not work. I think teams prepare differently for Manning in weeks 1-10 compared to weeks 11-17 and the playoffs. So, personally, I think Manning will be just fine.
shellman11: I'd say that's a fair assessment. Under John Fox, Peyton had a much firmer grasp on the adjustments he could make with an audible using the personnel on the field. From both the game and his postgame press conference, it appeared he either: A) Was told not to check out of the current play call, or B) Was not confident enough to check to another play with the existing personnel. This very well could be a product of a "Work In Progress" offense. Sunday's game reminded me a bit of the 2012 season opener vs. the Steelers - new offense, new group of guys, etc.
Sambrailo had little issue knocking Terrell Suggs out for the season. Harris had Dumervil... They're OK. https://t.co/soTMAIhNpC— The Orange Page (@theorangepage) September 17, 2015
MHR - Manning and the offense will face another couple of top NFL pass rushers in Justin Houston and Tamba Hali. Do you think this defense will be as tough for the Broncos to handle as the Ravens D was?
brknolley23: I don't think this defense will give us as many fits as the Ravens did. Historically the Ravens have always been tough on the run game, which slowed down our offense in the first three quarters. If we can get an early run game established against a good KC defense and keep those edge rushers honest, it will help this team move past the Chiefs with a victory.
shellman11: There are a lot similarities that can be loosely tied between the Raven's defensive personnel and the Chiefs personnel. Both teams run with four linebackers in base defense, with their best pass rusher on the outside. I'd expect a similar attack to come from the Chiefs with Houston and Hali, as you can clearly see the successes Dumervil and Suggs had disrupting the offense Sunday. The game plan for the Broncos on Thursday night should be to key off their fourth quarter drive against the Ravens earlier on in the game against the Chiefs. If they can effectively run the ball, it will help slow down Houston and Hali.
MHR - The Broncos have owned the Chiefs, in the Manning era particularly. Do Manning and the Broncos improve to 7-0 on the series this week?
brknolley23: I honestly do see us beating the Chiefs in this game. They like the tight end a lot and that has given us problems in the past, but with a healthy Danny Trevathan and Brandon Marshall, we have the guys to follow Travis Kelcearound. T.J. Ward being back will also help out as we can put him in the box and add David Bruton, Jr., for some length to cover the TE. It will be a defensive battle the first half, but our offense will finally reach that gas pedal and get going a bit in the second.
shellman11: As a Broncos fan, I can see the Broncos finding a way to pull out the win in Arrowhead as we've done the previous three seasons. As a realist, it's entirely possible the Broncos come out with a loss if they're unable to move the ball effectively and convert for touchdowns rather than field goals.
The Broncos have always found a way to dismantle their offense and keep Smith and Charles in check over the past few seasons. The key difference is the addition of a solid No. 1 wide receiver in Jeremy Maclin. I'd game plan to keep tight coverage on Maclin with Aqib Talib or Chris Harris, Jr., being physical at the line of scrimmage to disrupt their timing. Marshall, Trevathan and Ward are more than capable of keeping Jamaal Charles in check with their speed and tackling abilities.
A good group effort with Marshall, Trevathan, and Ward should be able to cut into Kelce's Week 1 productivity. Taking away Alex Smith's weapons will be crucial to our success, especially if our offense continues to struggle.
MHR - What offensive stat needs to be awesome for the Broncos in this game?
brknolley23: Rushing yards and YPC. I want to see productive runs. The little 1- and 2 yard runs on first and second down are not a good formula for winning games. I'd like to see them rush for over 150 yards and average four yards per carry. With these numbers it will keep the safeties and linebackers honest, allowing the passing lanes to open up and the Broncos offense to do what we are used to - scoring points.
shellman11: Yards Per Carry below four yards per attempt of the Chiefs' offense. Taking away the run forces the Chiefs to pass and hinders Alex Smith's "Game Manager" abilities. A lack of a run game also gives DeMarcus Ware and Von Millera chance to make some plays. Ware and Miller were so close to a couple strip sacks on Joe Flacco on Sunday, I'd also like to see Ware or Miller with at least one strip sack on Thursday Night.
MHR - Which player do you expect to stand out from the Broncos offense?
brknolley23: Ronnie Hillman. He is fast and has the ability to hit the hole and go. For him to be successful, the offensive line needs to open the necessary running lanes allowing him to do what he does best. I think Hillman could have over 100 yards rushing and by doing so he will help that Peyton Manning-passing game get going.
shellman11: Emmanuel Sanders, assuming the Chiefs don't double-team him all game. On Sunday he really stood out as a difference maker. It could be that he didn't play in the preseason, but he looked to have more energy and enthusiasm than the rest of the offense on Sunday. Ronnie Hillman could be a close second. He came in an produced on Sunday, if the offense continues to struggle our change of pace back could provide some needed boost on Thursday.
MHR - If Sunday's slugfest told us anything, it was that this Broncos' defense is for real and earned PFF's top-rated defense. How can the Broncos' D improve?
brknolley23: I would like to see the A-gap get cleaned up. Running a 3-4, your down linemen have to consume their block, allowing the linebackers to float up and make tackles. I would like to see Sly Williams get better penetration so we can force more runs of negative yards. In the second-half Sunday, we allowed Baltimore to get those 6- to 9-yard first down runs, resulting in a much easier second and third down. So the DL would be my biggest concern, especially with Malik Jackson potentially out and Wolfe already out.
shellman11: Overall the defense was fantastic on Sunday. If anything, I'd like to see our pass rush finish the play more often. As mentioned previously, they were close to a strip sack a couple times against the Ravens; we should have the same opportunities against a recently shuffled Chiefs O-Line. They just need to finish those plays out.
MHR - Alex Smith and Travis Kelce made a big splash for Chiefs fans on Sunday. What do the Broncos need to do to make sure this connection doesn't happen with the same success on Thursday?
brknolley23: With a big tight end like Kelce, I would make sure he feels you on his side at all times and when he does, catch that ball. Three to four defenders need to close on him quick and not allow any yards after catch. Bump him off the line so he doesn't get a straight run at his route because that's when a TE can become very dangerous. I would show the defense how Pittsburgh defended Gronk on opening night and show them what CANNOT happen in coverage.
shellman11: Coming from Justin Forsett and the Ravens, the Broncos should be able to repeat their success again this week against Jamaal Charles. T.J. Ward should help support the run defense with his return this week.
MHR - Chiefs' No. 1 running back has been a perennial threat to opposing defenses but only had 57 yards on 16 carries last week against the Texans. How will the Broncos stack up against Charles and the Chiefs' run game?
brknolley23: We have the quickness on D to contain Charles. That is easier said then done when it comes to great backs like Charles, but with a lot of players on our defense with experience against KC and Charles, we have the tools in place to contain him and make him have a rough night. If we can keep him under 75 yards and no TD's I would say the defense has done their job. If he gets loose and gets some long plays on the D it could setup for a long night of Jamaal Charles on this Denver defense.
shellman11: Coming from Justin Forsett and the Ravens the Broncos should be able to repeat their success again this week against Charles. Ward should help support the run defense with his return this week.
MHR - T.J. Ward will be back in action after a one-game suspension. Although Bruton played phenomenally, what will Ward's presence bring?
brknolley23: Ward has the ability to come down in the box and play as a safety/linebacker, and with this ability it gives us more options to blitz and allows us to bring in a guy like Bruton or Roby and play them at safety a bit. It allows us to confuse an offense with all the movement and personnel in a game.
I like Ward's physicality and his size inside the box as well as being able to defend a TE. I think Ward is a crucial part to this defense and to our secondary tonight.
shellman11: Without question Ward brings toughness to both the run and pass defense for the Broncos. He can slot in as an additional linebacker as needed, playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He can cover the pass, rush the quarterback, and bring down the running game. Bruton certainly did the job asked of him on Sunday, but Ward opens up many more opportunities and different strategies for Wade Phillips to dial up on Thursday night.
MHR - Arrowhead is a tough place to play with a crowd that rivals Mile High. How do the Broncos quiet a hungry, angry Kansas City fandom?
brknolley23: Score early. Score early. Score early. If we can get them down a touchdown and field goal (or two touchdowns!) and get the momentum on our side, it will change things completely. If our defense can pin those ears back and go after Smith for a bit, it will wear him down as well as a smaller running back in Charles. We need to make smart plays early on and not turn the ball over. Those are automatics if you want to win a game.
shellman11: A fast start on offense will certainly quiet the Arrowhead crowd. Follow that up with a strong defensive effort to stall out the Chiefs' opening drive(s) and the Arrowhead faithful will start to drop out. Creating a lead of more than one score would also do much to quell the crowd noise. Chiefs fans in the stands slept through part of the game on Sunday. A good performance for the Broncos would ensure the Chiefs faithful get a head start on their eight hours of beauty rest.
MHR - What stellar defensive stat do the Broncos need to have?
brknolley23: One stat that sticks out to serious Broncos fans is our inability to recover the fumble. I would like to see this defense force 2 fumbles and recover both of them as well. Turnovers win games and a fumble or two would really shake the confidence of an offense that has not been prolific in the past. If we can cause turnovers and then capitalize on them with 7 rather then 3 it will be a perfect recipe for winning on Thursday night.
shellman11: Total offensive yards allowed fewer than 200. Two weeks in a row less than 200 yards legitimizes the Broncos defense as the rebirth of the Orange Crush.
MHR - Which defensive player will stand out for the Broncos?
brknolley23: No. 29, Mr. Roby. I believe he will come up huge in the passing game on defense. He is a reliable third choice at corner and he has the ability to make an impact on any game he's in. He has good tackling skills and good cover skills. I would like to see him make up for what "could have" been a Ravens TD by Steve Smith at the end of the game Sunday afternoon. Roby will come up big in this game Thursday night.
shellman11: Brandon Marshall. He'll need to have a solid game in pass defense working against both Charles and Kelce, as well as stopping Charles in the run game. His tackling ability, anticipation and speed will help him lead the team in tackles.
MHR - If the offense struggles again, can the defense can keep them in it just like this week? Or do you expect the offense to build off its success from the fourth-quarter?
brknolley23: The offense is going to build off that fourth-quarter drive against Baltimore. I see them getting things going early on and getting themselves a lead and allowing this defense to do what we saw all preseason and week 1, get after the QB. If the offense does struggle, this defense is very capable of keeping the team in the game. We have so many playmakers on the defensive side of the ball to not make game-changing plays.
shellman11: The offense absolutely has to build off its fourth quarter drive against the Ravens. Defensive points are not always a given, especially on the road in one of the tougher environments in the NFL.
MHR - Brandon McManus was phenomenal Sunday. How important will he be this Thursday?
brknolley23: If the offense isn't moving the ball well but they get us in field goal range, this could be a huge game for McManus. He needs to continue to prove that he was the right choice and do what he's done all summer in changing his kicking and accuracy. The guy has all the tools to be a great NFL kicker. Let's hope he can show us that.
shellman11: If the offense continues to struggle maintaining drives and punching into the end zone for scores, look for McManus to lead the team again this week as a game ball recipient.
Predictions - brknolley23
Stats for Manning? 22/33, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 1INT
Receiver with most yards? Demaryius Thomas, 8 for 108, 1 TD
Number of sacks to Manning? 2
Number of sacks on Alex Smith? 5
Bronco with most sacks? Von Miller, 2
Most tackles? DE-Ware, DT-Sly DB-Ward
Number of penalties on the Broncos offense/defense? 6
Number of field goals by Brandon McManus/longest? 2, 48 yards
Final Score? 27-21, Broncos
Predictions - shellman11:
Stats for Manning? 24/35, 226 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT.
Receiver with most yards? Emmanuel Sanders, 9 for 145 yards, 1 TD.
Number of sacks to Manning? 3
Number of sacks on Alex Smith? 4
Which Bronco gets most sacks? DeMarcus Ware, 2
Most tackles? DE-Ware, DT-Sly DB-Talib
Number of penalties on Broncos? 4, 20 Yards
Field goals by McManus/longest? 2, longest 52
Final Score? 20-17 Broncos
The Favorites - shellman11:
- Favorite Broncos game EVER you've watched? New England Patriots at Denver Broncos, Oct. 11, 2009 - AFL Legacy Game that I attended with my dad. Patriots lost and I watched Brady act like a child on the sidelines. Close second would be 1998 Week 1 Patriots at Broncos, the first NFL game I attended at Old Mild High.
- Worst loss ever? 2012 AFC Divisional Baltimore Ravens at Denver Broncos
- Favorite Broncos player on current roster? Chris Harris Jr. Love his work ethic, attitude and story. Also own a couple of uniforms he's worn in games.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? John Elway - My first memories of Broncos football are of John Elway leading the team to victory. Grandmother was also a fanatic of his and passed that along to me at a young age.
- Favorite thing to eat/drink while watching a game? Not really a snack type person. Pepsi and a Powerbar should do the trick.
- Superstitions on game day? Have to match my jersey to the one the team is wearing on game day, preferably one of game used/game issued variety over a retail jersey.
- How did you become a Broncos fan? John Elway and the Broncos were a staple of my family and extended friends/relatives growing up. Colorado Native. Used to drive five hours to and from Mile High to tailgate and attend games before moving to the South.
The Favorites - brknolley23:
- Favorite Broncos game EVER you've watched? Has to be both super bowls
- Worst loss ever? SB48
- Favorite Broncos player on current roster? DT. Watched him at Georgia Tech, and he was raw. Now he's phenomenal.
- Favorite Broncos player of all time? Elway and TD - two diehards who fought and laid it all on the line every game.
- Favorite thing to eat/drink while watching a game? Blue Moon and pizza and wings.
- Superstitions on game day? Won't wash my jersey until we win the SB, and I always put the jersey on the second I wake up.
- How did you become a Broncos fan? In 1995 when I was 5 years old, I watched some games on TV and knew I had family out here who were season ticker holders at the time. Since then, the Broncos have stuck on me. I am a diehard fan, and I will ride and die with the blue and orange forever. GO BRONCOS!