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Ultimate Fan: Steelers offer a tough test...that the Broncos will pass

And hopefully ‘pass’ to Jerry Jeudy in end zone a few times.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Another week of awesome Ultimate Fans!

Old Strike started us off last week with such a good post that we knew it was going to take something special to keep it going. You may be surprised to learn that Mancar has never done the UFG, and so it is perfect that he’s here to take up the baton from OldStrike and keep this streak moving.

And like his predecessor, Mancar predicts a Broncos win because ... why not? Sure it’s a young team with some key starters nursing injuries. And sure this Steelers team is formidable. But we aren’t Broncos fans for nothing. We know a good miracle when we see one, and it’s happened before against the Steelers, so why not again?

Week 2: Broncos at Steelers

MHR - Sooooo...the opening game didn’t go quite as planned, but did have some good things to build on. What were your overall thoughts on the loss to Tennessee?
Mancar: Football is BACK! How could I be anything but excited???? Wait, hold on, timeout (sorry, too soon). It felt surreal to see Broncos football being played after everything that has happened this year. I am going to focus on the positives because let’s face it, this team is young and learning the ropes without much time to get acquainted with the new pieces and coordinators. While we all like to harp on the negative, I thought there were plenty of positives to take away from this game. We didn’t hear Garett Bolles’ name or number called once during the game! And how about that ill-advised-yet-amazing-cross-the-body-fade-away-TD-throw by Lock? Jeudy had some drops, yes, but he looks like he is already one of the best route runners in the NFL (he also juked some defenders out of their cleats!). I thought Shelby Harris and Jurrell Casey played very well, and I thought our young CBs played better than expected. All in all, it was a learning experience that I KNOW the Broncos will learn from.

MHR - Vic Fangio took the blame for mismanaging the clock on the final drive, but there were clearly other places the Broncos could have helped themselves before that. Yet, if Twitter ran the Broncos, Fangio would have been fired right after the game. What is your assessment of the head coach, and what should be realistic expectations for Year 2 under him?
Mancar: Much like this team, I think you have to have patience with Fangio. I loved the fact that he was aggressive on going for it on 4th and goal...but I wasn’t a fan of the play call. This is a strange season already, and I think that buys Fangio more time to become comfortable with a very young offense and an injured defense. Remember, they are building this team with personnel to suit Fangio. You don’t just give up on that without having all the pieces in place. We have to take the lumps with Fangio like we do with Lock.

MHR - OK, let’s start with some good from the first game. How ‘bout that Noah Fant kid? 81 yards of receiving, and although he was underutilized in the second half, he definitely showed some great chemistry with Drew Lock. How do you expect him to fare this week against another athletic defense?
Mancar: I think it’s games like this upcoming one where we can see how far Fant has come or how far he has to go. Fant has all the tools to be a matchup nightmare all over the field and in the red zone. He is an athletic freak and uses his size pretty well. I honestly expect Fant to struggle at the beginning of this game but then settle in and be a problem for Pittsburgh. I hope we see more of Fant in the red zone and matched up one-on-one with linebackers.

MHR - Drew Lock’s stats weren’t anything mesmerizing on Monday night, but he showed a lot of poise and also led the Broncos to three sustained drives that were double-digit number of plays and an average of 70 yards - a nice change from most of our drives the past four years. How did you feel about Lock’s performance against Tennessee?
Mancar: I am optimistic after Lock’s performance against Tennessee. Mostly because he didn’t turn the ball over. I thought he (overall) made good decisions and showed pretty good poise in the pocket. He led the receivers very well on crossing routes, and I loved how he went through his progressions on reads. I am concerned that he could not connect on any big plays downfield as he badly overthrew his receivers each time. HOW ABOUT THAT TD THROW? That was pretty impressive!

As the season goes on, I think that he develops a chemistry and learns to trust receivers, other than Courtland, to go up and make a play on a 50/50 ball.

MHR - Pittsburgh’s defense manhandled the Giants last week, particularly keeping Saquon Barkley in check. Can Lock escape T.J Watt and this athletic Steelers’ front?
Mancar: Should we be impressed that Pittsburgh looked dominant defensively? Or should we remember that the Giants were pretty terrible last year with many of the same offensive weapons? The Steelers have a lot of dangerous players on defense and this is a big test for the Broncos. BUT I love that Lock and our young offense have the opportunity to prove themselves against these types of tests. No doubt that this will be a HUGE test for the Broncos, but one thing we will have going in our favor is that there won’t be many terrible towels being waved in the stands. Which is too bad because I love seeing Steeler fans use those to dry their tears.

MHR - Other than his highly untimely fumble, Melvin Gordon had a good night rushing the ball and Royce Freeman even showed some good looks when Phillip Lindsay went down with an injury. Can those two do better than Barkley did against Pittsburgh? What will it take to get a ground game going?
Mancar: It’s going to be difficult. I will say that I don’t think we will see too much success on the ground if we play as predictably as we have in the past. We have to change up the play calls and utilize more 2 TE splits (just don’t try and pitch it to Jake Butt again). Melvin will get the lion’s share of the carries and rightfully so. He had some great runs and ran with finesse and physicality. Freeman will have to come up bigtime in order for us to throw different looks at the Steelers. But this is what Football is about. Next man up.

MHR - Brian Baldinger, a film analyst, calls the Steelers’ defensive line “vicious” and possibly the top three in the league. Does our offensive line - which overall played well last week - stand a chance?
Mancar: No. And Yes. And also...No. It is going to be on Shurmur to throw different looks at that D-Line to create more time and space. With as vicious as the Steelers D-line is, let’s not forget that Tennessee also had a pretty terrifying D-line. Simmons is a damn beast and Clowney is still relentless. Our O-line did pretty well against the Titans, and I think if they play with the same tenacity that they did against Tennessee, we have a chance. This game will be won in the trenches, and I hope to see our O-line hold up well against the Steelers D-line. If not….then it is going to be a long afternoon.

MHR - Going against Big Ben is a game where we will definitely miss Von Miller. But Malik Reed and Jeremiah Attachou showed some skillz last weekend. And Jurrell Casey proved more than up to the task to terrorize a QB, while Shelby Harris picked up where he left off last season. Do the Broncos have enough to put some real pressure on Roethlisberger?
Mancar: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is going to be a Bradley Chubb game. He was nearly invisible last game, but I did see that he did a great job of setting the edge in the run game.

We need Chubb to come up huge in this game and I think he is champing at the bit to sack someone….anyone other than Lock in practice. Casey is already proving his worth and Shelby is good for at least two batted passes/blocked kicks per game! There was decent pressure against Tannehill, but we can’t afford just “decent pressure” against Big Ben. We are going to need Reed and Attachou to win one-on-one matchups and get non-coverage sacks.

I like the blitzes we utilized against Tennessee but to the Titan’s credit they picked those up well. I would like to see that same strategy as we were so close to getting Tannehill many times. It felt like we were ready to open the floodgates with sacks and pressures that led to mistakes. Our timing has to be more crisp and hopefully the refs won’t call any BS penalties to negate turnovers.

MHR - Unfortunately Broncos will also be without A.J. Bouyé for a few more weeks, but Essang Bassey and Michael Ojemudia proved they can handle a little NFL football. What did you think of their play and can they hold up against the Steelers’ receivers like Diontae Johnson and JuJu Smith-Schuster?
Mancar: This is where rookies get their lessons in the NFL. This is no easy task for any CB, but you are now asking two rookies to do this. Ojemudia played with confidence and kept stride with NFL vets. Bassey came in and did the same for the most part. But those players they went up against were not the players JuJu and Diontae are.

MHR - Sam Martin was a damn genius on Monday night. How did it feel to know the punting game was not only NOT going to be a liability but was possibly a highlight?
Mancar: WE HAVE A PUNTER THAT CAN KICK FURTHER THAN 30 YARDS! Is that allowed? I’m sure I read somewhere that there is a statute in Colorado Law that this is illegal. Turns out we CAN have good things on special teams! Who would have thought? Hang time! Yards! Placement! Bounces in our favor! It was like the football gods had heard our cries and rewarded us after years of repentance and prayer.

MHR - There are some great Broncos-Steelers matchups, most notably The Tebow Miracle. Do you have a favorite Denver-Pittsburgh game?
Mancar: HOW COULD IT NOT BE THE TEBOW MIRACLE?!? My favorite part of that game was DT not knowing that he scored the winning score since the rules for OT changed that year. I loved the magic that that game sparked in Broncos Country. I also loved Elway looking on and thinking….it’s gonna take something big to get rid of Tebow….

Predictions

Stats for Drew Lock? 25/35 for 294 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT

Stats for each Broncos RB? Gordon - 22 carries for 77 yards (1 yard for every negative comment toward him on the game thread), 1 rushing TD. Freeman - 12 carries for 33 yards (1 yard for every comment in the game thread wishing PL was playing)

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? JERRY JEUDY will have his first receiving TD to go along with 80 yards. Fant, 6 catches for 90 yards and a TD. Tim Patrick, 42 yards. Hamilton, 27 yards. Butt, 15 yards. Gordon, 25 yards. Cleveland, 15 yards (*editor’s note: wow, you really took me literally with “every receiver”!!)

Longest FG for McManus? 52 yards

Number of sacks to Lock? 4

Number of sacks to Ben Roethlisberger? This is where the game will be won….5 sacks

Broncos player with the most tackles? DINO, OF COURSE!

Who gets the most sacks? Chubb, 2 sacks

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT, 1 FF, 1 FR

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? Every single one against the Broncos!

Final Score? Broncos 27, Steelers 24

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos game EVER? Broncos vs Patriots, January 24, 2016...Brady met his new girlfriend….The TURF!

Team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders. Because it gives their fans a sense of teenage-girl-trying-to-become-insta-famous-entitlement.

Non AFC West team you hate to lose to the most? Raiders. Also because how can a team that no city wants have fans?

Team you love to beat? Kansas City. Because interacting with their fanbase is the closest to a failing nuclear waste site I wish to be.

Favorite game looking forward to this season? Kansas City. To be the best, you have to beat the best.

Toughest game on the schedule? Kansas City.

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Von Miller but I have been a HUGE Jerry Jeudy fan for many years….so because Von is on IR I will say Jerry.

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Jumpy Gaethers! Just kidding! Steve Atwater…..Never have I seen a player play with such disregard for another human life, and I love it!

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? /Clears throat….JERRY JEUDY!

Superstitions on game day? To be a negative commenter. This reverse jinx works for the Nuggets and look, they came back 3-1 twice in the same playoffs!

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Cris Collinsworth….. I would rather listen to 3 hours of fingernails scratching a chalkboard.

Favorite sports cliche? Any Given Sunday

Best sports GIF ever used in the history of gifs? “ONWARD TO VICTORY!”

How did you become a Broncos fan?

Three seconds after being born, I told the nurse to “give me a Broncos onesie.” Those were my first and last words until I was 12 years old. After 12 years of silence, I finally spoke again and said “I should have asked for a Broncos hat as well.”