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Ultimate Fan: Broncos’ D needs to have a big game to beat the Bengals

Pressuring Joe Burrow and stopping Joe Mixon will be the key.

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

We are in the home stretch of a long and rather up-and-down season for the Broncos, but as predicted the UFG remains undefeated at 15-0!

After taking down the Lions, now the Broncos face some tigers, and these Bengals - while they have some holes in their game - are going to put up a tough fight. The game could seemingly go either way, but fortunately our UFGer this week hails from Kentucky and has watched this Cincy team a fair amount. And he believes the Broncos get the best of the Bengals this weekend (because, of course!)

KY Broncos Fan is a young fan in college, with his first true Broncos following starting when Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas (RIP) for the OT victory in 2011. Yet he understands that the deepest AFC West rivalry for the Broncos belongs to the Raiders. Smart! So welcome to the diehard MHR fold, KY!

Now grab a beer - or some egg nog - and get in the Broncos spirit before one of the most important games of the season for this team.

Week 15: Bengals at Broncos

MHR - What a game against the Lions. So yeah, they were a 1-10-1 team but a win is a win is a win. What did you like about that game? What still might have you concerned when it comes to the Broncos?
KY Broncos Fan: The offensive consistency was really refreshing to see. There were a few rough patches, but overall, there was disciplined execution on both sides of the ball that resulted in the blowout win that we saw. When this team plays disciplined football, it can compete with anyone in the league. In that vein, my two biggest concerns are that the not-so-special teams seldom play disciplined football (Why Tom McMahon still has a job is beyond me), and I don’t fully trust Pat Shurmur to give this team a game plan to succeed each week.

MHR - Melvin Gordon and Javonte Williams could both end up with 1,000 yards this season. How cool is that? If they do, can the Broncos accurately claim to be a run-first team?
KY Broncos Fan: I’m so excited about this possibility! I was a big fan of Javonte going into the draft, so I was thrilled when Paton traded up to select him. Melvin is an excellent NFL running back as well, even if he does have occasional ball security issues that we know all too well. If they pull this off, I think the Broncos can accurately claim to be a run-first team, which is ironic given the passing-game weapons this team has on paper. Furthermore, Shurmur’s offensive play calling schemes away from the run game too early and often in my layman’s opinion, so I think that this team qualifies as a run-first team, whether the coaches and front office meant for it to be or not.

MHR - For either RB to end up with 1K yards, he has to average around 70 yards a game for the remaining games. Does feeding either/both running back enough times to get those yards also coincide with a good game plan for this offense in your opinion?
KY Broncos Fan: Feeding these backs absolutely coincides with a good game plan. Defenses just can’t contain these two when we’re using them enough, and their run success let’s us keep the defense honest, dial up some efficient play action plays, and threaten to score multiple ways. I think that this team is at its best when the rest of the play calling is built off of the run game, so feeding Melvin and Javonte is critical to offensive success.

MHR - Last week the Broncos offense was four for four in the red zone and came away with a touchdown each time. If you were Pat Shurmur standing in front of the media and you were asked how you were going to try to make sure the offense could drive down the field and score a touchdown every time it got in the end zone, what would you say? What play design against the Bengals defense would best help you?
KY Broncos Fan: Last week against the 49ers, the Bengals had a nightmare of a time trying to contain George Kittle. As someone who has kept up with a fair amount of Bengals football due to their proximity to me, they’ve had plenty of struggles the last few seasons containing athletically gifted TEs. Luckily for the Broncos, we have two of the most athletically gifted TEs in the league in Fant and Okwuegbunam. So, I think that any red zone success against the Bengals starts with a healthy utilization of 12 personnel to keep our mismatch TEs on the field. Success in this also keeps the defense honest, preventing them from stacking the box when we do want to use our run game in the red zone.

MHR - Teddy Bridgewater likes to spread the ball around. In the past few weeks, though his total yardage is relatively low, each wide receiver and tight end plus at least one of the running backs is catching passes. As a general offensive strategy, do you like that design or would you prefer to see more targets going mainly to the big three - Sutton, Jeudy, Patrick?
KY Broncos Fan: I’m all for spreading the ball around, but I’d like to see more targets going to Jeudy. He’s a special route runner with remarkable agility, and I know that defenses fear what he can do with the ball in his hands. So while I think spreading the ball around limits a defense’s ability to make appropriate adjustments in coverage, we have to get the ball into Jeudy’s hands more so he can do damage.

MHR - In addition, knowing that Bengals starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie is out for COVID protocols this weekend, how should Shurmur (you, in this case) best take advantage of a passing attack without abandoning the run? Do we think Shurmur can do both????
KY Broncos Fan: Shurmur can and should do both, and I think that a big part of this is utilizing play action. Sutton and Patrick are both nightmare deep-ball threats that turn 50/50 balls into 80/20 balls, so I hope that Shurmur dials up some deep play action shots to them off of the success of the run game.

MHR - Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase have been a star duo when in sync, but pressure on the quarterback will be a secondary’s best friend. Since Dre’Mont Jones is out for injury, does this game need to be Bradley Chubb’s 2021 coming out party?
KY Broncos Fan: We all know what Chubb is capable of, but unfortunately, some injury issues have limited the full impact of his potential. If we’re going to cause problems for the Bengals offense, that has to start with an effective pass rush, and our most talented pass rusher on paper is Chubb. Luckily, the Bengals O-Line is shoddy at best, so I’m confident that we’ll pressure Burrow and hopeful that Chubb will have a field day.

MHR - Denver’s run defense is sort of on again/off again, sometimes good, sometimes gashed. Will Joe Mixon be much of a threat to this defense, especially with a slew of linemen and linebackers on the injury list?
KY Broncos Fan: Mixon is a special talent, and I’m worried that we’ll struggle to contain him. If the defense is able to contain him on early downs and force Cincy into must-pass situations, that will be a big part of Denver’s success in the game. I’m hopeful that Fangio will find creative ways to limit the run game in spite of our limited personnel (he has a habit of making depleted personnel look capable), and I’m also hoping that the offense can jump out to an early lead and make the Bengals leave the run game in an attempt to come back.

MHR - Who will be the most important player/players on defense for the Broncos?
KY Broncos Fan: Chubb, Surtain, and Shelby Harris all need to have great days to make sure that the Broncos walk out with a win.

MHR - Who will be the most important player/players on offense for the Broncos?
KY Broncos Fan: Javonte, Melvin, Fant, Sutton, Jeudy, and of course the man getting them the ball, Teddy B.

MHR - Fill in the blanks: Broncos lose if _____. Broncos win if _______.
KY Broncos Fan: Broncos lose if Joe Mixon rushes for over 100 yards. Broncos win if Joe Burrow is sacked 3 or more times.

MHR - What will it say to you about this Broncos team if they beat the Bengals this season?
KY Broncos Fan: It will say that they are resilient beyond measure. After Von was traded away before the Cowboys game, I thought we were heading towards another high draft pick. That this team is still squarely in the playoff hunt entering Week 15 is a testament to the ability and mental fortitude of all of these players to overcome tough losses and injury issues in an attempt to play winning football.

MHR - If you were George Paton, what would be your thoughts right now on this current coaching staff? Have you made up your mind? Do the last four games matter? If the Broncos make the playoffs, does that change your mind? If the Broncos don’t make the playoffs but end on a winning season, does that change it? Basically, if today were Black Monday, does Fangio & Co. still have a job?
KY Broncos Fan: If I were George Paton, I would’ve made up my mind on no one but the special teams coordinator. Tom McMahon needed to go a long time ago, but as for the rest of the coaching staff, I think that these next four weeks will reveal a lot. If this team rallies to a playoff berth, or even close to it with a winning record, I could see Fangio being kept for another year. If they miss out because of his game management decisions, I could see Paton deciding to move on. Even if Fangio stays, there might be turnover at offensive coordinator. That would be really interesting to see, as I think one of the biggest knocks on Fangio’s tenure is his unwillingness to part with ineffective coordinators (McMahon and Shurmur, though the Shurmur offense shows flashes of brilliance at times).

Predictions

Stats for Teddy Bridgewater? 17/28 for 236 yards, 1 TD, 0 INTs

Stats for each Broncos RB? Javonte: 18 carries, 93 yards, 2 TDs; Melvin: 20 carries, 84 yards, 1 TD

Number of yards receiving/TDs for each receiver? Sutton: 3 catches, 86 yards; Jeudy: 6 catches, 72 yards; Fant, 4 catches, 35 yards, 1 TD; Patrick: 2 catches, 27 yards; Albert O: 2 catches, 16 yards

Longest FG for McManus on Sunday? 52 yarder.

Number of sacks to Bridgewater? 2

Number of sacks to Joe Burrow? 4

Broncos player with the most tackles? Kareem Jackson

Who gets the first sack in the game for the Broncos? The most? First: Jonathon Cooper; Most: Bradley Chubb

How many INTs/FF/FR for the Broncos D? 1 INT/2 FF/1 FR

How many penalties will the refs get wrong? 3; most of which are no call-PI’s

Final Score? Broncos 31, Bengals 21

The Favorites

Favorite Broncos regular season game with Peyton Manning? The Cowboys Shootout where Manning even fooled the cameramen on a bootleg TD.

Favorite Broncos regular season game with John Elway? I wasn’t alive when Elway played, so I’ll have to take a pass on this one.

Favorite game since we’ve had a HOF quarterback? The obliteration of the Cardinals a few years ago when Von promised to kick their you-know-what was such a fun game to watch.

Favorite postseason win, not a Super Bowl? The 2015 AFC Championship Game, beating Brady in such dramatic fashion was special.

Favorite Broncos game EVER? Again, the 2015 AFC Championship Game. That turned out to be a tougher test than Super Bowl 50 itself, and thinking about that legendary defense making the game saving interception on the 2-point conversion still gives me chills.

Team you hate to lose to the most in the AFC West? Raiders

Team you love to beat the most in the AFC West? Raiders

Team you hate to lose to the most in the entire AFC (outside of the West)? Patriots

NFC team you cannot stand? Cowboys

NFC team you could root for in the Super Bowl (if not playing the Broncos, of course)? Rams, so Von can get another ring

Favorite game so far this season? The Lions game

Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? Jerry Jeudy

Favorite Broncos player of all time? Peyton Manning

Favorite new guy/rookie on the team? Javonte Williams

Superstitions on game day? If Denver’s struggling at halftime, I switch jerseys

Least favorite game analyst/commentator? Chris Collinsworth

Favorite sports cliche? Defense Wins Championships

Favorite Christmas movie? “It’s a Wonderful Life”

How did you get your MHR handle?

As a proud Kentuckian and a die-hard Broncos fan, “KY Broncos Fan” seemed like an appropriate name.

How did you become a Broncos fan?

As a kid, the first NFL game I remember watching in great detail was the 2011 Wild Card game between the Broncos and the Steelers. After that miracle OT touchdown to D.T. (rest in peace, we miss you), my grandparents bought me a Tim Tebow jersey. From then on, I was a Broncos Fan, and even as a child, I knew that it was Super Bowl or bust when Peyton Manning decided to come to Denver. I’ve been hooked ever since, for better or worse.

Poll

Since our college student hasn’t had the pleasure of watching Elway the QB, what is THE FIRST game he must watch?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Duh, Super Bowl XXXII
    (11 votes)
  • 30%
    Stop it. ‘The Drive’ of course.
    (34 votes)
  • 4%
    His first comeback win - December 11, 1983, versus the Colts
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    1998 divisional playoff vs. the Chiefs - another comeback victory
    (4 votes)
  • 51%
    Please. "Whorfin" (all of the above!)
    (57 votes)
111 votes total Vote Now