Welcome back, ultimate fans! It’s is smoky in L.A., but we’re here to hope there’s a little fire under the Denver Broncos this weekend, ready to bring back a “W” no matter the odds.
And to help us help them - because this Broncos team is definitely going to need us - we have Nugsdad doing the heavy lifting for some insight on how this needs to go down.
Mainly, that means Philip Rivers needs to go down - if not for our team to get the win, at least for our enjoyment as funs. Because no meltdown is more fun to watch than a Rivers’ tantrum.
Nugsdad also predicts the improbable this week - but NOT the impossible - and that’s why right now he is my favorite fan on the planet ... BRONCOS GET THE UPSET WIN ON THE ROAD!
Week 11: Broncos at Chargers
MHR - The Broncos have had a week off, and so have fans. Where are your thoughts on this team as a whole right now? From “So angry I’m not watching anymore this season” to “Hey, every week is a new chance to win” - where do you stand?
Nugsdad: I’m letting go of the anger and trying to enjoy each game independent of the myriad issues that will have to be addressed in the offseason. Each Sunday is a chance to eat and drink irresponsibly and watch Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders and Chris Harris Jr. do their thing.
MHR - Although the Broncos “win as a team” and “lose as a team,” is there one player or unit that you believe improvement could mean a whole different outcome - and therefore the main issue to be addressed?
Nugsdad: Does head coach count as a unit? If not, it has to be QB. You can win a Super Bowl with subpar QB play, but it reduces the margin for error with all other units. There are really two major changes that have to happen this offseason. New head coach, and a franchise QB on the roster.
MHR - Philip Rivers is having a great season and so are his Chargers, but the team is very beatable. How do the Broncos become the spoiler this weekend?
Nugsdad: Play clean and aggressive. They need to cut down on the penalties, drops, mental errors and turnovers. Simply eliminating avoidable mistakes could have resulted in 1-2 more wins so far, on the field and in coaching decisions. They also need to play aggressive. No more playing not to lose. Many of the coaching staff and players will likely be gone next year, so they might as well put it all on the line. *Note: attempting a 62-yard field goal with time remaining at the end of the half isn’t aggressive; it’s just dumb.
MHR - Which Chargers’ player is the one Broncos need to key in on more - Rivers or Melvin Gordon III? How do you contain both?
Nugsdad: This has got to be Rivers. Gordon is excellent (as well as Ekelar. Go Western State!), but I can live with the damage he can cause. They need to present different looks in the pass rush, blitz enough to keep him guessing, and vary where Von Miller rushes from. Getting the pass rush to Rivers and keeping him off balance is the key to limiting the damage from the Chargers’ offense.
MHR - The Broncos offense will begin its seven-game push without a key piece on the offensive line - Matt Paradis. Is this a huge loss for the offense or just another key player that is going to have to have a solid replacement step up?
Nugsdad: Both. It is a huge loss in terms of continuity, but a big opportunity to see how McGovern can adapt to center and Wilkinson to guard. Much as I like Paradis, the team has a big decision on whether to shell out big money to him in the offseason.
MHR - Whether Joey Bosa is playing or not, what does Bill Musgrave need to do with his offensive scheming to give Case Keenum the best chance to use all his weapons - Phillip Lindsay, Royce Freeman, Emmanuel Sanders, Jeff Heuerman, etc.?
Nugsdad: Movement. Case Keenum has been at his best while on the move this year, and his worst when sitting in the pocket waiting for routes to develop. Our running game is our biggest offensive strength this year, so use play action, misdirection, bootlegs, reverses, fake reverses. Hell, I wouldn’t mind the occasional RPO to make the best use of Lindsay and Freeman. Oh, and Sanders and Sutton should each have at least 7-8 targets. There is absolutely no reason not to try to force a good chunk of the passing attempts to those two.
MHR - Philip Rivers doesn’t scramble much, but he doesn’t usually have to - he gets the ball out fast and with great accuracy. What is the key for limiting his big plays and even allowing Von Miller and Bradley Chubb the chance to get pressure on him?
Nugsdad: Well, I’d love to say tight coverage here, but that doesn’t seem to be something we’re good at (past CHJ of course). We’re just not constructed to cover routes for 4-5 seconds, so the rush needs to get to Rivers, and quickly. I’d like to see blitzing on a good chunk of downs, the NASCAR package on some, and move Von around to make him tougher to scheme against.
MHR - Chris Harris has had three career interceptions against Rivers (the most he’s had on one quarterback) and Von Miller has had his most sacks on Rivers. Will this defense be able to get the best of Rivers once again this game?
Nugsdad: I feel like this defense has a 2015 throwback game in them, where they completely throttle the opposing offense and force a few turnovers for easy scores for our offense. Bad tackling, silly penalties, and vanilla playcalling would be what can keep this from happening.
MHR - Darian Stewart will be back on the field - how does his presence help the secondary?
Nugsdad: I really want to say leadership here, but I don’t think he really moves the needle for the secondary. Stewart is another of those players that will always be special to me for his role in the Super Bowl season, but he really seems a step slower and out of sync this year. I’m sure I’m missing some of the intangible value that he brings to the unit. I’d rather see more of Will Parks and Su’a Cravens to see what they can do
MHR - The run defense was gashed in a few games but taking those out of the equation, the Broncos have been able to contain some big runners. How do they do the same against Melvin Gordon III?
Nugsdad: It really comes down to clean tackling and everyone taking care of his responsibilities. In the games where we have given up tons of rush yards, it has seemed to be some chunk plays where people over-pursue and leave huge lanes to run through. The other key for me is time of possession. A consistent offense that holds the ball for more than 50 percent of the game and puts points on the board keeps the defense fresh and attacking. Lastly, I’m looking for a big game from Todd Davis here. He has had a very solid year and could make a big difference against a team that relies so much on their runnign backs in both the run game and passing attack.
MHR - What do you hope for this team for the final seven games and what are the chances they can turn it around and go 7-0?
Nugsdad: Until they are mathematically eliminated, I’m holding out hopes for a playoff run, as unlikely as that is. A more realistic goal is to establish a winning attitude in the locker room and develop the young talent that is more likely to be part of the core going forward. I know in my brain that the best long term outcome would be to tank for better draft position, but I can’t actively root for that. As long as they play the games, I’m going to pull for them to win.
Stats for Case Keenum? 24-35, 281 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int, 12 rushing yards
Stats for each Broncos RB? Lindsay: 16-90, 4 catches for 41 yards and 1 TD; Freeman: 10-46, 1 rushing TD, Booker: 2-11, 2 catches for 13 yards.
Number of yards receiving/TDs for each Broncos receiver? Sanders: 7-89, 1 TD, 1 rush for 23 yards; Sutton: 3-69; Patrick: 2-19; Hamilton: 1-17; Heuerman: 4-28; Jano: 1-18
Longest FG for McManus? 48
Number of sacks to Keenum? 3
Number of sacks to Philip Rivers?5
How many tantrums from Rivers? 3
Broncos player with the most tackles? Todd Davis
Broncos player with the most penalties? Sigh…. Garett Bolles
How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1/2/1
Final Score? Broncos pull out the improbable win 27-23
Favorite Broncos game EVER? Super Bowl 32 - “Elway Helicopter” my favorite moment
Team(s) you hate to lose to the most? Patriots
Team you love to beat? Raiders
Favorite upcoming game this season? At home versus the steelers. Always tough playing Roethlisberger, always great sending their fans home with a loss.
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Gotta be Von
Favorite Broncos player of all time? Terrell Davis
Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Tie: Lindsay/Sutton
Superstitions on game day? Not really a superstition, but I have my favorite football to toss to myself during stressful situations.
Least favorite game analyst/commentator? I’d love to say Phil Simms here, or Gruden, but right now it’s gotta be Bruce Arians. He’s awful full of himself for a guy who just got fired.
Favorite sports cliche? For recency, it’s got to be “We had a great week of practice.”
How did you become a Broncos fan?
Even though I’m a Colorado native, I wasn’t a Broncos fan during the early Elway years. Dan Reeves just rubbed me the wrong way, and it was just fun to root the opposite way of all the adults around me. During the Wade Phillips years (HC, not DC), that all changed. He was just so genuine and nice and really made you want to pull for him. It ultimately didn’t work out, but from then on, I always rooted for the Orange and Blue. I’m trying to instill the same in my boys, but they are mostly in it for the Game Day snacks so far.