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Ultimate Fan Guide: Broncos defense will bring a big game back to Mile High

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No need to worry about the Broncos’ defense against this hot Atlanta offense, says our Ultimate Fan.

NFL: Denver Broncos at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s another fabulous week of Ultimate Fan Guide as one of our regulars - ADanishMan - joins us from Cornhusker territory (also unfortunately known as Chiefs territory) to tell us why this Broncos team will be able to withstand the offensive surge the Atlanta Falcons have been pouring on lately.

ADanishMan is a lawyer-in-training, so don’t argue with him about his favorite jersey combination of all blues baby (good choice, by the way) or game day superstitions (I change jerseys ALL the time too!).

But you probably won’t have to argue anything else because ADanishMan is dialed into this team and is looking forward to another big game from the defense plus a solid showing from an improving offense in which the quarterback-du-jour matters little because either is going to get the job done.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips knows it will be a challenge, but you can bet there will be good prep for the Falcons coming the Mile High.

"I don’t think you can say any more about how great they are on offense and the quarterback is playing superb. It’s a big, big challenge," Phillips said Thursday. "We’ve played a lot of good offenses but this might be the best one we’ve played."

Week 5: Denver Broncos v. Atlanta Falcons

MHR – What was your honest assessment of both Trevor Siemian’s play last week versus Paxton Lynch’s time at the helm?
ADanishMan – Honestly, they looked pretty comparable to me. Lynch had some longer fields to work with, but his command of the offense looked just as good as Siemian's. Lynch also showed off a little of the mobility that made him an easy pick for Kubiak's offense with an easy bootleg score to Emmanuel Sanders.

MHR – If you were Kubes and both of his quarterbacks were healthy, which one should you choose to start on Sunday and why that one?
ADanishMan – A lot of people might want to ride the "hot" hand and start Lynch, but I think Siemian ought to get the start if he's healthy. I don't think the offense would perform any worse with Lynch, but Trevor is the safer play here.

MHR – Kubiak is showing us for a second year in a row he can nip a QB controversy in the bud by the way he handles it with players and in front of the media. What do you think of Kubiak’s decisions so far this season on who to play and how to play him at quarterback?
ADanishMan – I definitely agree with Kubiak's moves so far this season, particularly starting a second-year backup QB over a promising first-round rookie. While Lynch is definitely more athletic than Siemian, all the physical attributes in the world can't make up for a lack of playbook knowledge, which is where Trevor has a leg up on Paxton.

MHR – The running game looked decent the first two games of the year, with combined rushing yard totals over 100 for each game. But the last two games, the rushing attack has struggled mightily. Is this due to OL injuries, the defenses we’re playing, or do our running backs just need to get the job done? Or…"Whorfin"?
ADanishMan – I think that losing Virgil Green and Donald Stephenson definitely put a damper on the running game. The running backs are still breaking off big (a relative term) runs in their absence – even Kapri Bibbs has found himself making longer runs lately. But having a starting RT and the best blocking TE on the roster sit games out has been problematic. That said, Denver has played a pair of very good front sevens against Cincy and Tampa, so a slump in the running game isn't entirely unexpected.

MHR – As a Cornhusker, you’re undoubtedly required to be a huge Andy Janovich fan, and as such, do you like how the Broncos are using him so far, or would you like to see this beast unleashed a little more often in the game plan?
ADanishMan – The Broncos are using Janovich the way he is supposed to be used – a ruthless blocker who has the speed and agility to pick up big gains if given the ball. Jano really wasn't utilized properly until his senior year (No thanks to Bo Pelini), but once he was in a more friendly offense and was getting the ball more often, it was easy to see his potential as a ball carrier. While I would definitely like to see him get another touch or two during games, Janovich's true talent is in blocking.

MHR – The defense. Oh, it is so beautiful. Yet…it tends to look "rusty" the first few series of the game before looking like the well-oiled machine it is. Is this partly by design to figure out the offense or is it still getting communication issues down with a slightly new group? Or…"Shasta"?
ADanishMan – It's a little of column A and a little of column B. The second half defense seems to shut down the run much better than in the first half, so it's easy to see why it might be an attempt to get a read on the offensive game plan. However, losing Vance Walker has been tough on our run defense, and Adam Gotsis is still coming along in terms of development. I expect the rush defense to tighten up as the season wears on in order to force opposing offenses to pass on the No Fly Zone.

MHR – There are a lot of stars on the defense, so which player do you think is an unsung hero in this group?
ADanishMan – Shane Ray got a lot of press after notching three sacks on Andy Dalton, but he's played rather well in the other three games thus far as well. His play against the run is better than last season, and he has performed admirably in Demarcus Ware's absence – not easy shoes to fill.

MHR – Matt Ryan is having a big year and just came off a huge game where he became the 19th passer in NFL history to throw 500 yards in a game  His No. 1 target – Julio Jones – is also on fire. IF you were Wade Phillips, what would be your best approach to stopping these two?
ADanishMan – Aqib Talib needs to shadow Julio, for sure, but it wouldn't be an awful idea to have Darian Stewart help bracket him. Mohamed Sanu was limited in practice this week with a shoulder injury, and he poses the only other legitimate threat at WR. If Harris/Roby can contain Sanu and our safeties/LBs can keep the running backs and former Bronco Jacob Tamme from getting open in space, it shouldn't be too hard to tee off on Matty Ice, even with Atlanta's upgraded offensive line.

MHR – In honor of docllv literally being in a hurricane this weekend, which ONE player on the Broncos is the most likely to cause a hurricane while leaving a path of destruction in its wake?
ADanishMan – I think this is going to be a big game for T.J. Ward. He's going to be a force in the box with Atlanta attempting to hammer the front seven with their one-two punch of Coleman/Freeman, and his coverage skills are good enough to break up any passes in his direction.

MHR – We have finished the "first quarter" of the season, so let’s grade the performance of the following over the first four games:

  • Quarterback(s): B
  • Offensive line: B-
  • Running game: A-
  • Passing game: B+
  • Pass Rush: A+
  • No Fly Zone: A
  • Run defense: B-
  • Punting: B
  • Kicking: A
  • Gary Kubiak: B-
  • Wade Phillips: A+

Predictions:

Stats for Trevor Siemian? 23/35 for 240 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Number of carries/yards rushing for Broncos? Anderson: 22 carries for 89 yards; Booker: 12 carries for 28 yards; Bibbs: 4 carries for 13 yards; The Mighty Janovich: 2 carries for 10 yards (maybe a TD to boot :))

Number of yards receiving for Broncos? Thomas: 6 catches for 94 yards; Sanders: 8 catches for 90 yards

Number of sacks to Siemian? 2

Number of sacks to Matt Ryan? 4

Broncos player with the most sacks? Derek Wolfe

Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall

How many turnovers for the Broncos D? 2 INTs/1 FF/0 FR

Final Score? Broncos 30 Falcons 23

The Favorites

Favorite Super Bowl win? SB 50. Defense wins championships!

Favorite Super Bowl loss (yes, it’s possible)? SB 48. At least the 2013 regular season was fun.

Team you hate to lose to the most? Kansas City. I live in Chiefs territory. This is my purgatory.

Team you love to beat? New England. Not really a true rival, but it's always nice to establish Denver as the class of the AFC.

Game most looking forward to this season? MNF against Houston – "Welcome back, Brock. Hope your health insurance covers being reduced to a puddle of tears and sinew."

Game most worried about this season? New England. Yeah, it's in Denver, but Golden Boy is returning to kill us all.

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Emmanuel Sanders. The guy brings so much heart to the team, and his ability to make plays is second to none.

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Champ Bailey. Easily one of the best true shutdown corners, and he's the first Broncos player I remember cheering for.

Superstitions on game day? Broncos jersey (Miller blue, but I switch to Thomas orange if we're at home) and an old school Broncos hat.

Favorite Broncos jersey color combo? I'm in the minority, but I'm a sucker for the all-blue alternates.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

ADanishMan – I was born into it. My folks grew up Broncos fans, so you could say it's in my blood.

In honor of Mr. Brost (RIP), what would your dad have thought about that Super Bowl win in February?

ADanishMan – I think he would have complained about the lack of offense - Haha. Seriously though, the only thing he said after SB 48 was that he knew all season that not having a competent defense was going to cause problems down the road. I think he would have liked to see that historic 2015 defense securing a third Lombardi.