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Buffalo Bills fans think their defense is being overlooked

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This week we talk with Jeff Hunter from buffalorumblings.com for insights on the Broncos week 3 opponents: the Buffalo Bills.

Buffalo Bills v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We ask Jeff Hunter from Buffalo Rumblings a few questions about the Denver Broncos road matchup with the Buffalo Bills this week. I did the same for them...head on over if you want to talk football with the Bills fans.

1) The Buffalo Bills have put in the books a fairly good showing against the hapless New York Jets and a very bland showing against the Carolina Panthers. What are the key takeaways you have learned so far in 2 weeks about your team?

First and foremost, the Bills need to be able to run the football if they want any hope of winning. Tyrod Taylor can make plays in the run game, but if LeSean McCoy and (to a lesser extent) Mike Tolbert aren't producing, the Bills aren't going to look like an NFL team. Secondly, the defense is a lot better than you'd think it was from looking at the lineup. There are plenty of guys on the roster who are outperforming their reputations, and it's not just because they had the benefit of playing the Jets in Week 1. The Broncos will bring some new challenges, but if they can keep them in check it might start to register around the league a bit more than it has.

2) Rick Dennison is well known around these parts as a guy with a ton of history with the Broncos including being coordinator through what was one of the worst offensive seasons the Broncos have seen to date. How is he doing so far in Buffalo now that he's not part of a Gary Kubiak regime?

In a word: meh. So far, it basically looks like he's just taken the Greg Roman/Anthony Lynn approach from the last couple seasons and taken out any semblance of a deep passing game. Dennison has pretty much ditched any spread looks, and 21/22 personnel looks are the norm through two weeks. That came back to bite them hard against the Panthers, who were able to stack the line and almost entirely shut down the running game. In his defense, he really doesn't have much to work with when it comes to spreading the defense vertically, but he needs to do a better job of keeping defenses honest.

3) Holding the Panthers to just 9 points seems like a fairly significant defensive feat. What is driving your defense to find so much success early in 2017?

After languishing under Rex Ryan for the last couple seasons, the pass rush has regained its form with the return to the 4-3 under Sean McDermott and defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier. The Bills were consistently in Cam Newton's face and managed to bring him down six times, including two from Jerry Hughes. There's definitely room for improvement, especially considering how consistently Newton was able to find gaps in the Bills' zone coverage for big gains, but the Panthers receivers could do very little after the catch. As I said earlier, the defense is much better than it looks on paper.

4) Tell us about two players that most fans outside of Buffalo won't have heard of, but are really making a positive impact on the success of your team.

I think my new favorite player might be safety Jordan Poyer. He was a free agent pickup from the Browns who missed most of last year after a freak injury led to a lacerated kidney, but he's fine now and on an absolute tear. He's recorded a sack in each game and had a key interception in the win over the Jets. He's a monster tackler who can affect the game in coverage or at the line against the run, and he's currently second in the NFL with five pass breakups. He can do it all.

Speaking of "second in the NFL," linebacker Ramon Humber currently holds that spot on the tackle leaderboard with 23. He was a surprise pick to be a starter to open the season, but so far he's lived up to that billing, especially against the run. He's not great in coverage, but he does a good job limiting yards after the catch. I don't see any reason he can't keep it up over the course of 16 games.

5) What are your three keys to the game?

The biggest thing I'm looking for is to see the Bills contain the Demaryius Thomas / Emmanuel Sanders duo. The secondary has been great so far, but they haven't had to deal with any receivers who could stretch the field like those two. Offensively, the run game needs to get going if they want any shot at winning. McCoy was held to nine yards rushing against the Panthers; if their best weapon can't make an impact, the rest of the offense has no hope. Finally, the play calling needs to be a bit more diversified. If the Bills try to run it up the gut every other play like they did against the Panthers, they'll be in for a long day.

Bonus just for kicks: How do you see this game playing out? Final Score?

The Bills are a better team than they looked like against the Panthers. That said, I wouldn't go so far as to say that they're good. This is a winnable game for them, especially at home, but after watching their play last week I just can't bring myself to pick them to win. I'll go 17-13 Broncos.