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Three keys for Broncos to unlock a third win on Sunday

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T-Money Sizzle and his 2-0 Broncos are on a roll. Let’s see how they can keep it that way.

Dallas Cowboys v Denver Bronco Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Good morning, Broncos Country!

The 2-0 Broncos are heading to the Northeast this weekend for an early game that in all respects should be a ‘W’ for Denver.

But there’s a reason they say, “that’s why they play the game” because what should be and what are do not necessarily occur on game day.

Despite the Buffalo Bills being 1-1 after a rather dismal outing against the Panthers last week, the AFC East team is not without talent that could find a way to exploit a few weaknesses in a rather impressive-so-far Broncos squad.

So on this gorgeous Friday let’s look at a few key match-ups the Broncos can’t overlook if they want to leave town undefeated.

Trevor Siemian v. the Bills’ pass rush

And by “Trevor Siemian” here I’m really referring to “Trevor Siemian + the O-line” because that will be the main ingredient for T-Money being able to win against a very stout pass rush from the Bills.

While the Bills’ offense could only muster one field goal last week against the Panthers, its defense still held Cam Newton & Co. to just three of those while also logging six takedowns of the 6-6, 250-pound quarterback known for getting out of trouble with his legs (unless it’s from Von Miller, of course).

As good as Siemian has been through two weeks of regular season ball, the only “Newton-like” quality in No. 13 is of the Isaac variety - “An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

So with an offensive line that’s still a little suspect, particularly if rookie LT Garett Bolles is not a go at game time, Siemian is going to have be quick on the draw to get his pass to one of his many playmakers and stay away from defensive ends Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes. Whoever is lined up across from Menelik Watson could have a field day unless Watson has gotten some coaching up this week.

Offensive coordinator Mike McCoy noted that the passion Williams plays the game with reminds him of old-school Buffalo Bills under Hall-of-Fame QB Jim Kelly. And those were some pretty successful days in Buffalo.

“It’s a talented group and I’ll just say this, Kyle Williams, I absolutely love the way he plays the game,” McCoy said. “He’s been there a long time, he wreaks havoc and he runs from sideline to sideline. The passion, I mean he is a Buffalo Bill. ...You see that, you remember those days and you love to see the way he plays.”

For an excellent video breakdown of the Bills’ pass rush last week against the Panthers, this post shows the versatility of the 4-3 Sean McDermott has brought to Buffalo - and the dangerous combo Siemian has in store.

Broncos’ run D v. LeSean McCoy

The Broncos’ run defense is making a comeback this season and it’s just in time as it faces another standout running back for the third week in a row.

LeSean McCoy ran all over the Jets in Week 1, amassing 110 rushing yards, much of it on three long runs. But the running back had an Ezekiel Elliott-like showing last week against the Panthers, gaining only 9 yards the entire game.

The Broncos’ tandem of Derek Wolfe/Adam Gotsis/Domata Peko erected a wall against Elliott in Week 2, and they’re going to need to do it again in Week 3 for McCoy.

McCoy noted via conference call this week that the Bills will need to stick with their run-first game plan, no matter what the Broncos’ defense comes with.

"[We need to] just stay true to our keys and our identity. If we get back in points and we're down, just [stay] with it. The Cowboys kind of went to the passing game so early because [the Broncos] stopped him,” McCoy said. “The Broncos are a tough group, they really are. I think you just have to keep being consistent, running your plays ...They’re a good defense. They’re going to make plays and you just have to keep at it.”

The Orange Rush v. Tyrod Taylor

Before Bills QB Tyrod Taylor has a chance to get out of the pocket and make a play with his legs, Von Miller and Shaquil Barrett need to get to him. Known as a dual threat, the quarterback’s legs are clearly the bigger menace, so containing him and forcing him into the pocket to throw rather than running for first down is going to be crucial.

Defensive coordinator Joe Woods sees it this way too.

“It’s really rushing coverage. [Taylor] has great mobility in the pocket. He’s a dual threat. He can throw it. He can run it. It’s about having a good rush plan trying to keep him in the pocket, keep him in the well,” Woods said, adding that Taylor likes to move laterally and look downfield. “For us in the back end, we have to make sure we plaster receivers. ...He has eyes down the field and they’ve created some big plays.”

Taylor’s passer rating versus pressure is 70.1 whereas versus the blitz it’s 104.9 - no doubt due to his scrambling ability.

But he’s not terribly adept at the deep pass and his average time to throw is more than three seconds, so the slightest heat from Miller should keep Taylor in check.

Regardless of Taylor’s mobility, Miller plans to rush, rush, rush the passer.

It’s what he does.

“I mean you have to rush. At the end of the day, you just have to rush,” the sackmaster said. “Of course I have to pay attention to my rushes. I have to pay attention to where he is. But I’m going to rush. It’s what I do.”

Honorable mentions:

Jordan Poyer v. Jordan Taylor

OK, the “versus” on this one was mostly for literary effect - Jordan v. Jordan. But in real life effect, Poyer is dangerous. Getting high praise from Pro Football Focus, Poyer made PFF’s Team of the Week two weeks in a row.

The free safety is having a great year and looks to be a huge defensive weapon in Buffalo. I’m stealing a tiny bit of thunder from sadaraine’s excellent Q&A with Buffalo Rumblings writer Jeff Hunter who says Poyer “can do it all.”

“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.”

Broncos running game v. Bills’ Front 7

The C.J. Anderson-Jamaal Charles duo is on fire right now, and that needs to continue for the Broncos’ offense to have real success against the Bills’ tough Front 7 (refer to notes above).

Aside from it wearing down the defense, a Broncos’ running game keeps the defense guessing - an element of surprise that Denver didn’t have last season (and one its defense could certainly enjoy Sunday when facing the same offensive coordinator).

Emmanuel Sanders certainly believes this diverse offense is helping he and Demaryius Thomas be the playmakers they are hired to be.

“Thank God our running game is playing really well,” Sanders said, adding that he and his dad talked about what a plus it was to have a dual threat. “If we’re able to keep running the football like that and be multi-dimensional, it’s going to be hard for teams to stop us. You can sit up there and play zone all you want, but then when C.J. and Jamaal are running for 150 yards - at some point you’ve got to load that box and now it’s one-on-one with me, Demaryius and Bennie [Fowler]. That is when we have to take over.”

But that “taking over” also means blocking for Anderson and Charles - something wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert is always preaching - and showing off in film review apparently.

“I can literally have a 100-yard touchdown and I can go in and have a block that springs C.J. loose for a 70-yard touchdown,” Sanders said. “And [Tolbert’s] going to play my play one or two times. He’s going to play that block that I had 15 times. That’s how much he cares about us giving effort in the run game.”

Horse Tracks - docllv’s picks of the day

Third down was a nightmare for Broncos offense in 2016. Why that's changed this season.
When the Broncos visit Buffalo in their first road game of the season Sunday, they'll be bringing the best third-down offense in football. Denver has converted 17-of-30 such opportunities, a success rate of 56.7 percent.

‘We’re like a machine’: Cris Collinsworth defends PFF grades against players’ gripes - The Washington Post
Analysts are attempting to do what some players and coaches say is impossible for an outsider.

Horse Tracks

Broncos prepare for Bills' ground stampede of LeSean McCoy, Tyrod Taylor
McCoy and Taylor are the two pistons that power a running game that has been the league's most explosive since the start of the 2015 season.

Bills' front seven to pose 'true challenge' for Broncos, Trevor Siemian
The Broncos won't have to worry about looking past this defensive unit.

That's What They Said: Bills' HC Sean McDermott, RB LeSean McCoy
Ahead of the Broncos' Week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos, McDermott and McCoy spoke with the Denver media.

Kiszla: There’s old friend of the Broncos lurking in Buffalo, itching to ruin Denver’s 2-0 start – The Denver Post
Fear the Rico. There’s a reason the undefeated Broncos are ripe to get upset in Buffalo.

Broncos Linebacker Brandon Marshall Discusses This Season’s Expectations & More – The Hype Magazine
News From Hip Hop To Hollywood! (

C.J. Anderson changed it up this offseason. Now he says he’s back to playing “undrafted.” – The Denver Post
C.J. Anderson turned to cycling as part of his offseason training regimen to aid his recovery and conditioning. He also realized he "took a lot of this for granted."

Garett Bolles grateful to be back on practice field after injury
The rookie left tackle could play Sunday afternoon against the Bills, but he said he won't push his recovery too much.

Under the Headset: Q&A with QBs Coach Bill Musgrave
After 17 years coaching around the NFL, Grand Junction native Bill Musgrave is finally back in his home state as the Broncos' quarterbacks coach. Recently he sat down with us to talk about his path, the coaches he models himself after and how much he enjoys being back in Colorado.

Trevor Siemian, C.J. Anderson win FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Week honors
The Broncos' quarterback and running back earned plenty of acclaim for their star performances against the Cowboys on Sunday.

Five things that'll define Week 3: Tony Romo's success -
Conor Orr identifies five storylines that will define Week 3 in the NFL, including how Tony Romo's prowess in the booth may change color commentating, as well as the N.Y. Giants’ play-calling situation.

Cowboys' Ezekiel Elliott: 'No excuse' for lack of effort -
Running back Ezekiel Elliott responds to criticism from NFL Network's LaDainian Tomlinson that he "quit" on the Dallas Cowboys during their loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

Rams withstand 49ers' 2nd-half comeback in thriller -
Oh, Thursday night! Behind strong performances by Todd Gurley and Jared Goff, the Los Angeles Rams held off the San Francisco 49ers, 41-39, in a wild NFC West showdown.


Biggest key for a win on Sunday?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Trevor is T-Money Sizzle
    (45 votes)
  • 17%
    CJ + Jamaal = 100+ yards on the ground
    (65 votes)
  • 55%
    O-line, O-line, O-line
    (205 votes)
  • 9%
    "Major Von and Ground Control" (stole that!)
    (35 votes)
  • 0%
    (2 votes)
  • 2%
    (8 votes)
  • 2%
    "French Fred" (none of the above, aka, "we’ve got this game just by showing up.")
    (11 votes)
371 votes total Vote Now