It is already Week 3, and after two awesome home games to get this team on a roll, the Broncos have their first road game against Buffalo in an early game Sunday.
Filling in last-minute for an AWOL kingbronco58 is a veteran to this series, the_prodigal_fan, and he’s got us fully loaded with info in this latest outstanding version of the Ultimate Fan Guide.
Coach Vance Joseph said this week that although the Broncos have won six games so far (including preseason), this game in Buffalo is no gimme.
“They get it. It’s Week 2 and we’ve won two games,” he said. “This is going to be a true test for our football team to go to Buffalo. To travel on Friday and to play a stout defense like they are right now, it’s going to be a huge test for us.”
Our Ultimate Fan doesn’t see this as a “huge test,” though he certainly believes the Bills could bring something to the table. But there’s just no way they’re going to get to eat with the Broncos on the other side.
Week 3: Denver at Buffalo
MHR – First, what did you love about the Broncos’ win over the Cowboys and what concerns you going forward?
the_prodigal_fan: I am very excited and optimistic about this team after what I saw against the Cowboys.
If I’m being 100 percent honest, I would admit that game really made me nervous. Playing against a team that matches up against us the way Dallas was expected to was cause for concern. We all know that stopping the run was the biggest weakness on an otherwise excellent defense last year, and Dallas is a team with an elite running attack.
The fact that we were able to take a phase of the game that was a weakness last year and turn it into a dominating performance is something we should all be very happy about and the rest of the league should find concerning. Where is the weakness on our defense now?
As for what concerns me after the game, the answer is not a whole lot. If I had to pick one thing, it would be something we don’t have any control over - injuries. We don’t have a lot of depth in the trenches on either side of the ball, so any more injuries to those units would be a very bad thing.
MHR – Broncos travel to Buffalo where overall the Bills lead the series 20-16-1. Which one of those numbers will increase after this weekend - and how do you see it going down?
the_prodigal_fan: I see the Broncos coming up with a win in this game. While this is the NFL and anything can happen on any given weekend, we do have a clearly better team. There is not one phase of the game in which I don’t see us having an advantage over the Bills.
It is true that this has all of the classical makings of a trap game. We’re facing a clearly inferior opponent, on their home field, coming off two very big, emotional games. In theory it could be very difficult for the team to get up for this game, and they could be surprised and suffer an upset loss. But I don’t see that happening, for several reasons.
First of all, we have a lot of veteran leadership on this team, guys who know how hard it is to win games, particularly on the road. We have a team that’s been around the block. Second, this is the first road game of the year. I think the team will be fired up for it and won’t let it sneak up on them.
MHR - The Bills offense is now led by former Broncos OC Rick Dennison, who wasn’t too popular here the past year with his bland offense. How will this Broncos’ D take advantage of that?
the_prodigal_fan: Let’s just say that I will be very surprised and disappointed if we don’t shut them down. From what I can tell when I look at the highlights and box scores from Buffalo’s first two games, Dennison hasn’t changed much. Their offense is anemic and predictable.
Given the familiarity our defense has with Dennison’s offense, I doubt the Bills will be able to get anything going on offense.
I’m tempted to say that their offense won’t score a point, but it’s notoriously hard to shutout teams in the NFL. Plus, as good as our offense has looked so far this season, they’re usually good for a couple of mistakes per game. So chances are, the Bills will manage a few points, but not enough to win.
MHR - The best part of the Bills offense should be its running game behind LeSean McCoy - and to some extent QB Tyrod Taylor. What is your prediction for McCoy’s success this week against Adam Gotsis, Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe?
the_prodigal_fan: I think McCoy will have his touches limited similarly to Elliott last week, and for the same reasons. The coaches know as well as we do that the Bills want to run the ball first and foremost. So they’re going to try to take that away and make the Bills beat us with the pass. We do still have the No Fly Zone, so good luck with that, Dennison.
In addition to this, I also expect our offense to continue to produce. Not necessarily another 40-point performance, but in the neighborhood of 24 to 28 points. It’ll be enough to mean that the Bills won’t be able to afford to run the ball much, as they will be playing catch-up.
MHR - How will Von Miller and the No Fly Zone attack this Dennison-led offense?
the_prodigal_fan: As I mentioned above, I expect the defense to do much the same as they did to the Cowboys. They’re gonna load the box to stop the run and dare the Bills to beat them with the pass.
Since the focus is going to be on stopping the run, I don’t think we’re going to see much in the way of pressure on Taylor, at least not early in the game. Later on, when we have a bit of a lead and the Bills can’t run anymore, then I expect to see the defense pin its ears back and get after Taylor.
At the end of the day, Taylor will be sore, and we will see the pass rush start to really get to him in the second half.
The Denver Broncos have scored a touchdown on 77.78% of their red zone trips this season. In 2016 only on 46.81% of their red zone trips.— Denver vs. (@denVSeverybody) September 22, 2017
MHR - Where the Bills have some surprising strength is on defense. What kind of game plan does our offense need to put together to keep its rhythm on offense going?
the_prodigal_fan: This is actually the type of game for which Siemian’s preferred style of play is perfect. He wants to get rid of the ball quickly, generally on short-to-medium depth routes. Like you say, the Bills defense is stout. I want to see the offense take what the Bills give us, limit mistakes, and capitalize on opportunities. Methodically passing the ball down the field (or “dinking and dunking”) should actually work pretty well here.
MHR - Garett Bolles is “questionable” for Sunday. How could his absence will affect Trevor Siemian and the offense in general?
the_prodigal_fan: I highlighted depth in the trenches as my main area of concern in my answer to an earlier question. Bolles’s injury means nothing good for us. He has made a few mistakes in his first two games, but overall he has been a very pleasant surprise for this team.
What this ends up meaning to the offense in this game depends on the answer to one question - who do the Broncos use in his place? If the answer is Stephenson, then Siemian is in for a long day of peeling himself up off the grass. If it’s Barbre, I’m a little more optimistic.
MHR - Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas had a field day against the Cowboys. But Bills’ safety Jordan Poyer is having a great season so far. How could he be a problem for Trev and his receivers?
the_prodigal_fan: For the most part, Siemian has made the right decisions so far this season. If he continues that trend, Poyer won’t be much of a factor. That said, Siemian usually throws one or two head-scratching balls per game. So far they haven’t come back to bite us. Against the Cowboys, he didn’t do it until the game was already over for all practical purposes, and against the Chargers, the DB simply dropped the ball. If Siemian makes one of those throws in this game, Poyer might be the beneficiary.
MHR - Bennie Fowler and Virgil Green have stepped up and had some big catches in the first two games, both scoring touchdowns. How do you like the way Mike McCoy is using different receivers and tight ends in our passing game?
the_prodigal_fan: It’s a breath of fresh air after last season. Siemian is spreading the ball around without keying into one or two targets, and McCoy is calling excellent games, at least in the first three quarters. It’s obviously nice to have the kind of fourth-quarter lead that allows you to go conservative and play to protect the lead, but I would prefer to see the team continue to attack.
But overall, McCoy has done a good job of designing plays that our TEs and various WRs can use to find openings in the defense. And Siemian, to his credit, has done a good job of finding the open receiver. It hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been worlds better than last year.
MHR - C.J. Anderson had a breakout game and Jamaal Charles seems to be everything we expected. What do you predict out of our running game this weekend?
the_prodigal_fan: I think it will slow down this week. The Bills have a solid defense, especially in the front 7, so the running lanes might be a bit harder to find than they were last week. Both RBs may end up having a bigger impact in the passing game, receiving out of the backfield.
MHR - Brandon McManus missed a second big field goal on Sunday (but also made one that was negated after a penalty gave the Broncos a first down instead). Are you concerned about his accuracy?
the_prodigal_fan: Not in the long term. I think maybe his contract extension got into his head a little bit. But he has shown resilience in the past, so I think he’s gonna be fine.
MHR – Which Broncos defensive player will be this week’s star? Von Miller - Even when he doesn’t get the sacks, he has an indelible impact on the game. He’s gonna make life tough for Dennison and the Bills offense.
MHR – Which Broncos offensive player will be this week’s star? Jamaal Charles - This could be his breakout game in Denver. A couple of well-placed throws from Siemian to get him the ball in open space, and we could see him make a statement in this game.
Stats for Trevor Siemian? 20/29, 215 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Number of carries/yards rushing for Broncos - Anderson, Charles, Janovich, Booker? Anderson - 18 for 75 yards; Charles - 7 for 32; No carries for anyone else.
Number of yards receiving for Broncos? DT - 65; Sanders - 50; Fowler - 30.
Longest FG? 52 yards
Number of sacks to Siemian? 3
Number of sacks to Tyrod Taylor? 4
Broncos player with the most tackles? Justin Simmons
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 2 INTs, 3 FF, 2 FR. Yes, the defense is gonna feast on mistakes.
Final Score? Denver 27, Buffalo 10
Trevor Siemian has taken a significant step forward so far this season pic.twitter.com/kFW5PIy2qY— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) September 22, 2017
Favorite game you’ve seen in person? 2015, Denver at Cleveland. Just another stop on the Super Bowl Express!
Team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders
Team you love to beat? Chiefs
Game most looking forward to this season? Oddly enough, I’m looking forward to the Jets game. It’s a rare home game in the second half of the season, against a team that is just terrible. It’ll be a brief trip home in the midst of a stretch of 7 out of 10 games played on the road. I’m hoping that it’s one the Broncos will put away early and be able to coast through most of the second half.
Game most worried about this season? Until proven otherwise, the Pats are still the team to beat. They had a bad time against KC, but they’ve bounced back from bad games before, and until it’s proved they have lost their dominance, I have to assume they will be back in the mix for home field advantage this year. I’ve had the New England game circled since the day the schedule came out.
Superstitions on game day? I have a gold Broncos logo pendant that I have to wear every game day. It’s the only thing I always wear. I switch up the jerseys, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and hats, but I always wear the pendant on a necklace.
Favorite Broncos jersey color combo? I really want to say the Color Rush, because I absolutely LOVE the jersey and the helmet, but the orange pants are kind of a deal breaker. I have to go with the standard orange home jersey with the white pants.
Favorite TD celebration? Mile High Salute. I’m a classical purist. Lol
Favorite Von Miller sack dance? Hingle McCringleberry
Favorite snack food during the game? Loaded nachos
Favorite rookie/young guy on the team? It’s actually Garett Bolles. I love his attitude and his passion, and he plays with a nasty edge. I didn’t like the pick initially, but he has really won me over. Get well soon, Garett!
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Von Miller.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? This question really should be changed to “Favorite Bronco all time, other than John Elway”. The answer to THAT question is Steve Atwater.
How did you become a Broncos fan?
I was born into a family of Bronco fans, on both my dad’s side and my mom’s side. Being raised in Colorado by a family of faithful Bronco fans, there was never any doubt who my favorite team would be. I grew up watching John Elway do magical things on the field, and now I am raising my kids to watch him do magical things in the front office.
So who is YOUR favorite Bronco of all time?
This poll is closed
Oh, OK... "Whorfin" (even though you can’t have 8 favorites of all time)
NEW POLL! Since I clearly missed some obvious "all-time favs" here’s a new poll...which means, technically, you get two votes!!
This poll is closed
Terrell "I’m in the HOF" Davis
Shannon "I’ll call the National Guard" Sharpe
John Elway (for everyone)
Al Wilson (for Pete)
John Mobley (for doc)
Tom "I’m just a badass" Jackson
Randy "I should be in the HOF" Gradishar
Steve "I hit harder than anybody" Atwater
Peyton F-ing Manning
Champ "shutdown" Bailey
Saguaro Bronco (aka, stupid poll because there are too many)