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MHR Live: Breaking Buffalo

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Here is how the Broncos and Bills plan to attack and defend each other.

Garrett Bolles makes a very surprising return to practice today and may play in Week 3 as the Denver Broncos travel for an early Sunday game against the Buffalo Bills. We'll have all of the Broncos offensive lineman grades today. We want to go into depth and show how quarterbacks are targeting the #NoFlyZone through the air. Some of our numbers will surprise you. All of that and an in depth, 'Game Script' by Denver vs. showing exactly how the Broncos and Bills will attack and defend each other. Get in where you fit it, because study long, study wrong. Join your host Ian Henson and the greatest group of Broncos fans on the internet live, right now.

Posted by Mile High Report: A Denver Broncos Blog on Thursday, September 21, 2017

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Garrett Bolles makes a very surprising return to practice today and may play in Week 3 as the Denver Broncos travel for an early Sunday game against the Buffalo Bills.

We want to go into depth and show how quarterbacks are targeting the #NoFlyZone through the air. Some of our numbers will surprise you.

All of that and an in depth, 'Game Script' by Denver vs. showing exactly how the Broncos and Bills will attack and defend each other.

Get in where you fit it, because study long, study wrong. Join your host Ian Henson and the greatest group of Broncos fans on the internet live, right now.

An excerpt from today’s edition of The Strongside Blitz, sign-up right here:


(Breaking the Buffalo Bills)

Here is in depth coverage on the Week 3 match-up between the Denver Broncos as they travel to play the Buffalo Bills.

In Week 2 the Buffalo Bills traveled to the Carolina Panthers, in what probably would have been a shoot-out had it taken place two seasons ago. As it ended neither the Bills nor the Panthers scored a touchdown.

Through two weeks Buffalo's quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a QB Rating of 86.1 (19th in the NFL). He owns a 62.3 completion percentage, he has thrown two touchdowns and one interception. He's been sacked five times and ranks 23rd among quarterbacks in first downs with 19.

The Bills as an offense have had 33 first downs (12 via run, 19 via pass and two via penalty), which is not that alarming, because Buffalo's defense has only allowed 30 first downs.

Buffalo running back LeSean McCoy is the only true offensive All Pro candidate in the AFC East in the talent category not named Tom Brady. was held in check by the Panthers in Week 2, but saw a Week 1 stat line of 22 attempts for 110 yards (5 yards-per-carry average), five receptions on six targets for 49 yards. He has yet to score a touchdown this season and saw 12 carries against the Panthers in Week 1 for nine yards (including a long run of six yards). Unable to run on Carolina, the Bills attempted to try McCoy through the air and peppered him with seven targets, he caught six of them, but for only 34 yards.

McCoy leads the team in receiving yards through the first two weeks with 11 receptions for 83 yards. Tight end Charles Clay is next on the reception list with 7 for 76 yards and a touchdown, wide receivers Jordan Matthews 5 for 91, Zay Jones 3 for 39 yards and Andrew Holmes 3 for 19 yards and a touchdown are the only other real contributors in the Bills receiving corps through two weeks.

Defense is where the Bills have earned their 1-1 record, Bills' free safety Jordan Poyer currently accounts for 10% of the teams tackles and 28.6% (2) of their sacks (7). Buffalo defensive end Jerry Hughes accounts for another 28.6% of the teams sacks. Going into Week 3 versus the Broncos, Buffalo's opponents have passed on them 64.5% of the time (24th) and ran 35.5% of the time (9th).

The Bills have not given up a passing touchdown this season.


When Buffalo is on offense:

Buffalo's offensive coordinator Rick Dennison knows Denver's defense well, especially Denver's Shaquil Barrett. Dennison has schemed against this very Broncos defense for two out of the last three seasons. This likely means that he is going to attempt to see success much the same way as the Atlanta Falcons and San Diego Chargers found success against Denver's defense last season, by passing it to their running back.

Of course the 2017 Broncos are no strangers to facing the NFL's best running backs, LeSean McCoy will be the third of a three-headed monster involving Ezekiel Elliot and Melvin Gordon that had pundits calling for Denver's early demise.

The Broncos are currently first in the NFL against the run, but saw Elliot targeted a career record tying five times (for four receptions and 14 yards) in the passing game in Week 2. Bills tight end Charles Clay could have a record day being literally the only other option for Buffalo's passing game. Bills' wide receivers Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones have combined for a grand total of eight combined catches for 130 yards.

Taylor has passed for 349 yards passing for two touchdowns, one interception and 93 rushing yards on 16 attempts.

When Denver is on offense:

Trevor Siemian is enjoying what could be a career year with seven touchdowns (six passing, one rushing) through two weeks of football, but saw a Week 2 Cowboys' defense that forced backup rookie cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie (Colorado) and Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) and the severely over-matched Nolan Carroll into the lineup against the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.

Denver is averaging 350.5 total yards per game, 159 on the ground while running the second most of any team in the NFL. Denver is converting 56.7% of their third downs and scoring 33 points per game (to Buffalo's 12).

Running back C.J. Anderson is currently second in the NFL in rushing yards with 199 yards. Jamaal Charles has 86 yards on 19 carries (4.5 YPC avg.) and a touchdown, topped with four receptions for 43 yards and another touchdown. Denver could also sneak Devontae Booker back into the lineup here, Booker will likely see third down and short yardage downs as the Broncos attempt to keep some tread on Anderson's tires. Booker will provide a welcome relief to both Anderson and Charles, but could push rookie running back DeAngelo Henderson (Coastal Carolina).

Emmanuel Sanders rocked his eight targets last week, grabbing six for them for 62 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Virgil Green also entered the touchdown conversation with his second big catch in as many weeks, grabbing two of his three targets for 11 yards.

Denver has a heck of a mess at left tackle with rookie Garett Bolles (Utah) out for what Vance Joseph is saying will be two to three weeks. In Week 2, Bolles went down in the 3rd quarter. He was immediately replaced by Donald Stephenson. Stephenson lasted three plays and then was replaced by Allen Barbre who was previously switching drives at left guard with Max Garcia. Barbre continued to do well as a run blocker, but finished with a PFF overall grade of 49.1 due to a pass blocking grade of 38.4.

Tight ends are still not being used to pass block in Denver's offense, combined the Broncos three tight ends have pass blocked a total of 14 times combined through two weeks, while running routes on 78 combined snaps on 189 total combined snaps. Denver would do well using their tight ends to block nearly exclusively on passing downs to allow for Bills phenom free safety Jordan Poyer to chase Anderson and Charles all day, opening up the middle for Sanders and Cody Latimer who is likely to play slot over rookie Isaiah McKenzie (Georgia). Demaryius Thomas is always a factor on the outside and Siemian has hit him twice in two games for gains of 29 yards and 27 yards.

If Bennie Fowler does not exit concussion protocol in time to play on Sunday, Jordan Taylor is likely to be active and I'd expect Siemian to go to him. They had great chemistry in the preseason and he can get open, which Siemian will need a lot of.

If you want to know what Denver is in as far as fielding an offensive line, here is Denver's likely starting lineup along with their PFF grades: LT - Allen Barbre (49.1) LG - Max Garcia (48.5) C - Matt Paradis (70.5) RG - Ron Leary (87.4) RT - Menelik Watson (28.4). Editors note, Garett Bolles could play on Sunday, his PFF grade is a 77.5.



When Buffalo is on defense:

We're telling you right now Bills free safety Jordan Poyer is going to be a problem. The man turned in an MVP worthy game against Carolina quarterback Cam Newton last week, Poyer finished the game with eleven tackles (seven solo) a sack, a tackle for a loss, a quarterback hit and a pass defense. He roams the middle where Siemian is want to go. This means a no go or a pick six on several dump off passes to Anderson that have worked thus far in the season. This will force Siemian to the tight ends where Poyer is also likely to be roaming.

Poyer has rushed the quarterback six times this season and has two sacks. He owns a ProFootballFocus (PFF) rating of 92.4. Poyer has a Von Miller like ability to change this game.

Heading up the rest of the Buffalo's defense that held rookie phenom running back Christian McCaffrey (Stanford) to ten yards rushing on eight carries and four receptions for 34 yards are edge guys (and their PFF rankings) Jerry Hughes (81.4), Shaq Lawson (75.7) and Lorenzo Alexander(75.0). Broncos fans (and Denver natives) may remember Eddie Yarbrough(Wyoming, Grandview HS (Aurora, CO)). He's taken 34 snaps for the Bills this season and owns an overall grade of 67.9 (77.1 run defense).

The Bills employ a three man rotation in their interior defensive line and keep Kyle Williams (83.2) on the field nearly full time while rotating Marcell Dareus (80.2), Cedric Thornton (75.9) and Adolphus Washington(48.0). The early word on Dareus is that he is not likely to play. This puts Adolphus Washington right into a time share in the interior line of the Bills and the likely fists of Broncos center Matt Paradis and right guard Ron Leary both staging All Pro campaigns and blocking for Anderson who is second in the NFL with a gaudy stat that PFF brought up earlier this week... C.J. Anderson ran for 118 yards on the Dallas Cowboys, but that's not what is impressive, 76 of those yards were after contact, he forced six missed tackles. Anderson is deadly to the Bills and being spelled by Jamaal Charles and possibly Devontae Booker (who has zero tape for Buffalo in their 'will-he, won't-he' tape session decisions) is nightmare fuel for Buffalo. Imagine what will happen to the poor defense that gets to be the first to meet DeAngelo Henderson... Eek.

We expect Henderson to be a game day inactive if Booker is a go for Week 3. We also mentioned that Jordan Taylor should be active if Bennie Fowler cannot pass concussion protocol. Offensive lineman extraordinaire (he can play any guard or tackle spot, but only one kind of well so far in his career) Billy Turner is likely to be active on offensive for Week 3 as well.

When Denver is on defense:

We tweeted over at TheOrangePage yesterday that 31% of the runs against Denver's defense this season have gone for 0 or negative yards. It takes a lot of chutzpah to try your luck against that, we don't think that Buffalo has it.

What they do have is a favorable match-up with LeSean McCoy out of the backfield and Bills OC Dennison knows this is how you can tear Denver apart. McCoy is the leading receiver for quarterback Tyrod Taylor and Taylor currently averages 5.8 yards per carry while landing at second on the Bills offense for rushing with 93 yards.

Dallas tried this against Denver though, last week, to no avail. With Ezekiel Elliot nonetheless.

What Dennison hasn't seen in a few months is the absolute danger that Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett pose to anything that he wants to do offensively. Denver stacked eight in the box employing only Bradley Roby, Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. (as a safety) in pass coverage last week to stop Elliot, it worked awesomely. With Buffalo not having a Dez Bryant in their lineup Aqib Talib likely draws Jordan Matthews, while rookie Zay Jones is likely to lineup across from Bradley Roby (who Vance Joseph says will play). That leaves Chris Harris to give Bills' tight end Charles Clay the respect that he deserves.

Buffalo neutralized, Denver's built for early East Coast games, they've won 14 of their last 17 1:00 AM (EST) games. This one is in September in beautiful Buffalo. Toro!