At this point in the NFL season teams are all being forced to make adjustments to game plans and schemes. As the last few weeks have shown opposing teams have compiled enough game tape of the Denver Broncos to be able to limit our offense and take advantage of our defense. That is where the adjustment phase comes in.
Can the Broncos make enough changes, while staying within the respective offensive and defensive systems, to continue to win games. I say yes they can, Mike Shanahan is a great offensive football mind and Larry Coyer flat knows what his defense can do. To put that more specifically here are my 7 keys/predictions to week 15's game.
1. STRRRETCCCCCHHHHHHH!!!!! The last several weeks, teams have played a whole lot of 4-4 defense against the Broncos. Teams have accomplished this by either playing four down linemen and four linebackers or they have rolled a strong safety up into the box as a psuedo fourth linebacker. The luxury of having that 8th or even 9th defender in "the box" is made possible by Jake Plummer's inability thus far this season to get the ball down the field with any consistency. If Jake can hammer out that problem defenses will be forced to keep the safety back to give help deep and over the middle.
Prediction : Look for the Broncos to run some single back sets this week. I can see them lining up a tight end and three wides as well using two tights and two wides at times. You might also see fullback Kyle Johnson in motion a lot into the slot.
2. Tackle, Tackle, Tackle!! It's going to be cold and very probably snowy in Buffalo. The Bills are a better team than their record indicates. If they can get running back Willis McGahee going early it will do a lot to help take pressure off quarterback Kelly Holcomb. The key to keeping McGahee in check is making solid tackles on FIRST contact. Playing in the snow slows down pursuit so the defensive players MUST NOT rely on help to make a tackle.
Prediction : Look for the Bills to get the ball to McGahee early and often. He has really talked a lot of smack the last couple weeks...now he gets a chance to back it up.
3. That MY man!! I would much rather have seen J.P. Losman this week than Holcomb. Holcomb doesn't have a great arm, he won't win many foot races, but he is a quality QB. He sees the field well and is a stabilizing factor on that offense. All you have to do is look at what Brad Johnson has done in Minny to see what those characteristics can do for a team. I think the key to this is limiting his chances to turn a good read into a TD. The last several weeks blown coverages have led to points against the D, that's just gotta stop.
Prediction : Good teams don't keep making the same mistakes....I think this is a good team. I don't think you will see any more wide open recievers downfield.
4. Bang, Bang, BELL...then BANG again!! As I wrote earlier, the running game has stuggled against teams using eight and nine man fronts. I think the adjustments will be made this week to the passing game and Buffalo won't be able to do that. Look for a baseball like affair for the running backs with Anderson as the Starter, Bell as the Middle Relief and Dayne as the Closer.
Prediction : I think the weather will cause slower pursuit from the Bills and will allow for a big day running the ball. Look for Anderson and Bell to get near 100 and Dayne to get 30 or 40 running mostly in the fourth.
5. FOXY!!!! I heard the giant groan throughout Colorado when D-Will went down last week. The kid has talent but I honestly don't feel bad giving Domonique Foxworth the starting nod. He's as advanced, if not farther ahead, than Darrent Williams is when it comes to technique and understanding the position. He might not be quite the athlete that Williams is speed wise but he's close. Having Curome Cox or Karl Paymah in the nickle might be a concern but I don't think it will come to that. I see Shanny using Sam Brandon more in nickle situations than the two young guys.
Prediction : Fox will perform admirably against the Bills. I don't see any problems limiting the Bill's ability to score using the pass.
6. Counter Puncher. Sacks are like knockout blows in boxing. With one big ol' punch you deal a lot of damage and can really set a team back. However, Punchers are real one dimensional, they bring everything, every time. The Broncos' defense is molded more after the counter puncher. They play the run, play the run, apply steady pressure then BAM!!!! #47 off the corner....or #56 up the gut. Look for this to continue.
Prediction : I see the Broncos getting eight guys around the line of scrimmage this week by rolling Lynch and the LB's up. Don't be suprised to see them use this look to drop eight into coverage one down then bring eight at Holcomb the next.
7. Good teams win bad games. So last week was ugly, and so was the Dallas game. Regardless at the end of the day the Broncos got to add a number under the "W" column. This week it is entirely possible for K.C. and San Diego to lose, thereby assuring the AFC west for the Broncos if they can win.
Prediction : Rain or Snow, Ugly or a blowout I see our boy's adding another to that "W" column. I see the cylinders starting to fire....bold prediction here. Broncos 34 Bills 13
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