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  • The big things we’re watching for in the Broncos’ Week 7 Thursday Night Showdown with the Chiefs
    by Just_JoRo on October 17, 2019 at 10:00 am

    Can Joe Flacco quiet the doubts? | Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports These things will mean the difference tonight between the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday Night Football. The Denver Broncos are coming off of two straight victories and fighting to climb out of the division’s cellar. The Kansas City Chiefs are reeling after two straight defeats that have put a noticeable dent in their lead atop of the AFC West. Fangio and the Broncos have an opportunity to shock the NFL world tonight and give some serious weight to their postseason aspirations after a short week. Here’s what we’re looking for: Offense How does Scangarello exploit the Chiefs’ weaknesses? Jeff: So far this year, the Denver offense has taken on some stiff defenses, but finally get one that is primed for them to take advantage. The Chiefs have been horrible against the run, and if Chris Jones is out, that’s even better news for the Broncos. Last week the Texans played keep away in the second half, sustaining long drives and only allowing the Chiefs to possess the ball 3 times in the second half of last week’s game. Denver’s offense needs to take a similar approach and pound the ball in the run game, and utilize the play action pass to exploit the LBs who have been pretty poor all year. The Chiefs run defense looks like Swiss cheese between the tackles. JoRo: While the Chiefs secondary has undergone improvement since 2018, Kansas City may well be down to just one of their three primary cornerbacks tonight. Kendall Fuller has been ruled out with an injury and Breshaud Breeland is officially listed as questionable because of a family matter. Behind them on the depth chart are rookie 6th rounder Rashad Fenton and Morris Claiborne. After a knee injury knocked him out of the second half of the Titans’ game, Emmanuel Sanders was a full participant in practice yesterday. It’d make a lot of sense to pepper in a few shot plays for Sanders and Courtland Sutton to test the revamped secondary, so I’m watching to see if that’s something Scangarello dials up that Flacco can pull off. Minus Kendall Fuller, the Chiefs could have their hands full with Courtland Sutton.There’s also reason to believe Scangarello and Flacco may be able to find some success attacking the second level. Deshaun Watson completed 90% of his targets to tight ends for over 100 yards last week, so I’m curious to see if Noah Fant, Andrew Beck, and Jeff Heuerman are a factor. Kansas City has also had issues defending tertiary receivers, so it’s another game where DaeSean Hamilton could chip in for a critical catch here or there. I have concerns about Joe Flacco’s ability to play mistake free football and make the most of the Broncos’ scoring opportunities. While Kansas City has allowed 28 red zone trips in 2019, only 50% of those have been converted into touchdowns. I’ve mentioned before how Flacco’s struggled in the red zone this year. He’s also had serious issues against pressure. The Broncos’ passing offense needs to perform better in the red zone. Luckily for the Broncos, the pass rush has fallen off since Dee Ford’s departure. The Frank Clark trade has not been the upgrade on the edge they were looking for so far, and Chris Jones will not suit up. Without him Kansas City’s pass rush really falls off and Flacco should be able to climb in the pocket if there’s heat coming off the edges. To exploit Flacco it would make sense for Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to try and dial up more blitzes in order to make the 12-year veteran uncomfortable. I’m anxious to see if Leary and the line can do a better job picking up stunts and extra rushers if they come. It’d be even more encouraging if Flacco identified the pressure early and found ways to get rid of the ball for positive gains. One way for Scangarello to help protect his line and quarterback is by pounding the rock. Kansas City’s run defense is once again woefully porous this season. They’ve given up close to 400 yards rushing over the last two games and rank last in the league by Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards metric. Last year Bill Musgrave only gave Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay 20 carries, even as they averaged 6.8 yards a carry. If it’s anything close to that effective tonight I hope the Broncos’ new OC goes to the well ‘til it runs out of water. Noah Fant could be an X-Factor tonight. Joe M: The Chiefs defense has been terrible against the run, but I wanted to know if that was a few long runs skewing their average ypc allowed, or a bunch of 5-10 yard runs. They are currently 30th allowed 5.16 ypc (DEN is currently 16th). To answer this question I looked at the variance on run distance. I pulled the data for the distance (yards gained) for every run against the Chiefs (a bad run defense), Broncos (a mediocre, but much improved run defense) and the Jets (a really good run defense). As you can see the Chiefs and Broncos defenses have given up as the seem total number of runs that gain 2-5 yards. The key difference, and where the KC defense has been terrible, is the runs of 5-10 yards. KC has been giving these out like candy on Halloween night. Through six games KC has allowed 63 runs that gained 5-10 yards. Denver has allowed less than half that many (31). KC has also allowed 22 runs that gained 11 or more yards. Denver has only allowed 14 and the Jets have only allowed 11. Not surprisingly, KC has allowed the 3rd most long runs (11 or more yards gained) in the league. Only CIN (33) and CLE (24) have allowed more. CHI and NE are tied for the fewest allowed with six. The Broncos are tied for 17th. Chris Jones is a big part of the Chiefs ability to stop the run (as limited as it is) and he out for this game. He missed the game against the Texans and they had 17 runs that gained 5 or more yards with him out. Can Denver convert on third down? Can the offense sustain drives? Joe M: The Broncos offense has been pretty bad at converting on 3rd and 4th down this season. Denver is currently 21st at converting on 3rd down (33.3%) and only managed to convert 2 of 14 against the Titans. The Chiefs defense is currently ranked 17th in 3rd down conversion stoppage (40.8%), but an inability to stop conversions particularly in short yardage situations was a significant contributing factor. The Colts had sixteen chances on 3rd or 4th down and while they only converted seven of those sixteen, six of those seven were on short yardage situations (and five of those six conversions were by run). The Colts had an eight minute, a six minute and a five minute drive against the Chiefs and that wasn’t at altitude. The Texans did much the same. They converted on eight of sixteen 3rd or 4th down situations. Unlike the Colts, the Texans chose to throw most of the time with six of their eight conversions coming via the pass. The Texans had drives that lasted eight, six, five, five, four, four and four minutes as they had the ball on offense for almost forty minutes of the game. Much like the Jags did to us, the Texans possessed the ball for almost the entire second half of the game. The Chiefs possessed the ball for 5:54 of the second half with almost all of that coming on their lone scoring drive of that half which lasted 4:25. Their other two drives of the half were three-and-outs where they gained a total of -3 yards. Getting pressure on the opposing QB with and without having to blitzFor the Broncos to have success I think we are going to need to get into third and short situations. While the Chiefs defense has been one of the worst in the league at generating pressure, they have done a decent job at stopping opponents from converting on 3rd and medium or 3rd and short situations. Defense How can the banged up secondary contain the Chiefs’ passing game? JoRo: One of the biggest myths is that playing man coverage is the solution to the Chiefs. This narrative took on legs after the Colts’ defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus leaned on man match two weeks ago in Indianapolis’ 19-13 upset. Like all good legends, it overlooks and skews a lot of facts. Indy went with man in large part because Tyreek Hill didn’t play and Sammy Watkins tried (and failed) to play through a hamstring issue. Man coverage is going to work a lot better when you’re defending an opponents third, fourth, and fifth receivers. With Hill and Kelce both in the lineup, I’m curious to see if Fangio sticks to his typical coverage shells. The good news is Duke Dawson should be in the lineup, which means Parks will move back to a more limited role after playing 71% of the snaps against the Titans. A potential Parks on Kelce matchup is one that concerns me. Jeff: As Joe alluded to above, there is this narrative floating around that the Colts and Texans found the “blueprint” for stopping the Chiefs offense, and that blueprint involves playing a lot of man coverage. Thus, conventional wisdom would follow that Denver and any team who plays them should follow suit. However, like most things, it’s not that simple. First of all, as Joe also mentioned, Kansas City was short handed for those two losses. Second, a lot of the Chiefs offensive struggles were brought on by themselves, killing drives with penalties and not executing. Certainly playing good man coverage can be effective against Kansas City, however, there are some downsides to playing it all the time, and ways the Chiefs exploit man coverage. Let’s take a look at a few of them below. This wheel route to the back is a brilliant play and specifically designed to trip up man coverage. The tight man coverage here is what Kansas City uses against the Texans with the tight end coming up the field and essentially setting a pick, and then the slant coming underneath. The dimebacker covering the running back now has to work through both of those players to get to his man, and as a result, the back is wide open. Another thing Andy Reid does against man coverage is his patented screen game. Kansas City draws defenders away from the boundary at the outset just by nature of the formation, with the 3x1 set. Now look at when the running back releases, most defenders have their backs to the ball and to the play, so it is harder for them to rally up for the tackle. Denver will for sure have to be on the lookout for these screens on Thursday as the Chiefs are some of the best in the league at them. Lastly, the Chiefs burn man coverage by creating mismatches on their weapons. Here they split Kelce out wide at the bottom of the image. Next, they motion the back towards the strong side, pulling the underneath defender out of the potential throwing lane. The result is Travis Kelce 1-on-1 with the entire side of the formation to work with, which creates a big play. This isn’t to say that man coverage never works, but Denver needs to be careful and can’t over-commit to it, as Kansas City has plenty of tools in the toolbox to beat it. So what CAN work against Kansas City? Here is something I noticed from the Texans that feeds into Joe’s point below. The Texans were able to get pressure on Mahomes when they were able to shut down his first read and make him hold onto the ball. Travis Kelce is Mahomes’ go-to guy, and he’ll often look there first. The Texans essentially double covered Kelce at times by keeping a dimebacker/safety in the box ready to undercut his inside. You can see in the example above, that’s where Mahomes wants to go with the ball, but the dimebacker makes him hesitate and hold the ball. Before he can come off his first read to find the open man on the flare route, the pass rush was on him, forcing a fumble. Here it is another time. This time, the safety has dropped down and is playing more of that robber role from their traditional safety spot. This was a successful tactic for the Texans and it allowed them to relatively contain Travis Kelce last week, and allowed the pass rush to get home. With Kareem Jackson and Justin Simmons in the secondary, I can definitely see Vic Fangio mixing in some more robber style concepts for one of those guys to try and take away the easy looks over the middle, possibly force a turnover, but also force Mahomes to hold the ball and find his other reads. Could the pass rush neuter the reigning MVP? JoRo: If the Broncos can’t make Patty Melt uncomfortable, everything else is secondary. This is why Elway brought Vic Fangio on board: his guiding philosophy is to get after the quarterback with as few rushers as possible. If the secondary can prevent big plays, it will force Mahomes into methodical marches. The more chances the rush has to get after him, the better. The pass rush is peaking at the right time, could it take over another game?Lost amid the crying over sacks has been the fact that Von Miller has more pressures than all but three players in the NFL this season. Since Bradley Chubb’s injury Fangio has been moving Miller around even more to get him ideal matchups, and the Chiefs’ Eric Fisher and Andrew Wylie will miss the game. That leaves the Chiefs with backups at both spots on the left side of the line. Mahomes’ ankle is bothering him and seems to flare up over the course of the game. With a short week of rest, there’s a very real possibility he won’t have the same escapability he used to beat the Broncos in their first matchup last year. After he went down on a second quarter pass against the Texans, Mahomes’ yards per completion were cut in half and he was clearly hampered. Pressure and hits on Mahomes could have a very real cumulative effect tonight. If Andy Reid is concerned about protecting Mahomes from the pass rush, he could look to try and run the ball more. Barring a total collapse of Fangio’s revamped defense though, it probably won’t be effective. Since kickoff against the Chargers two weeks ago, the Broncos have allowed less than two yards a carry to opposing teams. Jeff: Tying in with what I said above and with what Joe has mentioned, Denver will definitely have to be on the lookout for Mahomes escaping the pocket to create plays. Yes, he is hobbled with injury, but he is still extremely dangerous when he’s allowed to escape the pocket and play backyard football. Just check out what he did to Indianapolis: When asked about Mahomes ability to create outside the pocket, Vic Fangio said, “With a guy like this, you have to defend two plays: the one they’ve called and then the one he might create. That makes it tough.” These kinds of plays are exactly what he was talking about. Denver has to stay disciplined in their rush lanes and not let Mahomes outside the pocket to create big plays. Final Thoughts Denver has a chance to claw their way right back into contention with a third straight win tonight. The Chiefs present the biggest test yet, but pass and they’re 3-4 with a potential tiebreaker over the current AFC West leader. Pressure makes diamonds, will the Broncos shine? Your Broncos links Denver can to control their own destiny if they win on Thursday - Mile High Report It’s tough sledding, but if Denver can find a way to knock off the Chiefs on Thursday, that puts them only one game back from Kansas City in the division and gives them a real shot to go into the bye week sitting at something like 4-5, with a lot of momentum on their side. I’m not claiming it will happen, or that it’s even very probable, but Denver will have a great opportunity over the back half of this schedule to really see how they shape up against the majority of the top teams in the conference. A conference that, aside from New England and Kansas City, doesn’t really have a lot of clear standouts after that. Broncos vs Titans: The No Bull Review - Mile High Report That’s two in a row, which feels pretty darn good to this fan. Add to it that we dominated the Titans defensively and you have good reason to celebrate, Broncos Country. Why? We’re just 2-4 at this point, right? Because it is growth, that’s why. We’re seeing an actual competent coaching staff for the first time in three years and this game was great evidence of it, especially on defense. DenverBroncos vs KC Chiefs: Denver looks for first win vs KC since 2015 - Mile High Report The Broncos have lost seven-straight to their division rivals. Here are the keys to breaking that streak on Thursday. Injury report: Chiefs will be down multiple starters - Mile High Report Here is your final injury report for the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. Can the Denver Broncos beat the battered Chiefs on a short week? - Mile High Report Kansas City’s injured list is a mile long, can Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos take advantage? Denver Broncos Week 6 snap review - Mile High Report Here is how the snap counts were distributed on offense and defense for the Denver Broncos during their 16-0 victory over the Tennessee Titans. NFL offense rankings through Week 6 | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF 21. DENVER BRONCOS The addition of Joe Flacco to the Broncos has made a marginal difference, improving their EPA per pass from 25th to 21st from 2018 to 2019. He ranks eighth among qualifying signal-callers in clean-pocket passing grade through Week 6, but his play under pressure is a different story. He ranks in the bottom 10 in passing grade when under pressure at 39.3. 2019 PFF Week 7 NFL Power Rankings | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF 17. DENVER BRONCOS Last Week: 20th After some bad luck in the first quarter of the season, the Broncos have put together a pair of wins to get back in the early playoff picture in the AFC. Linebacker Alexander Johnson has been one of the surprises of the season, delivering two games with a PFF grade above 80.0 in his first two career starts. NFL Draft Links Sikkema’s 2020 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 (Updated Ramsey Trade) | The Draft Network Broncos Tristan Wirfs OT, Iowa As one of the top freaks in college football, Wrifs not only has the bulldozing strength but also the quickness and athletic ability to thrive as a backside protector in Denver. PFF 2020 NFL Mock Draft: Joe Burrow goes No. 1 overall to Cincinnati | College Football and NFL Draft | PFF 13. DENVER BRONCOS: QB JUSTIN HERBERT, OREGON You can’t tell me that John Elway would pass on Herbert if the Oregon quarterback fell in his lap. His arm talent is off the charts, but he’s come up noticeably small in a number of big games throughout his career. He’s earned only a 79.5 passing grade against Power 5 competition over the past two seasons. NFL Links Chiefs’ run defense continues to falter as Texans run wild K.C.’s defense remains the primary obstacle that stands between Andy Reid and the legacy-elevating Super Bowl title he craves. Brock Osweiler retires – ProFootballTalk Brock Osweiler is calling it a career. Osweiler, the quarterback who had stints as a starter for the Broncos, Texans and Dolphins, told Mike Klis of 9 News in Denver that he is retiring. John Dorsey admits talks with Washington, but it “takes two to tango” – ProFootballTalk Team officials in Washington “emphatically” denied a rumor of a Trent Williams trade to Cleveland, according to a report Tuesday. A day later, Browns General Manager John Dorsey admitted publicly he has talked to Washington president Bruce Allen.

  • Injury report: Chiefs will be down multiple starters
    by Scotty Payne on October 16, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images Here is your final injury report for the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs. The Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs released their final injury report ahead of their divisional showdown on Thursday Night Football at Mile High Stadium. The Broncos will have wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders while the Chiefs will be down multiple starters for this rivalry game. Chiefs ruled out Sammy Watkins, Kendall Fuller, Eric Fisher, Chris Jones and Andrew Wylie for Thursday night’s game in Denver.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 16, 2019 The Broncos veteran wide receiver put in two full practices this week after suffering a minor knee injury during Sunday’s victory over the Titans. He now will face the Chiefs depleted secondary in a game where the Broncos offense will need to put up some points if they want to come away with a victory. Tackle Ja’Wuan James is listed as questionable and will likely be a game-time decision at best for this week. I would imagine they would like to see a full practice from him before he hits the field so I’m expecting him to be inactive again this game and Elijah Wilkinson will get another start at right tackle this week. The only Broncos player to be listed as out is cornerback Bryce Callahan who is dealing with a foot injury. He is expected to be out for a few more weeks at least and wasn’t expected to play anyways. For the Chiefs, they will be down multiple starters. Wide receiver Sammy Watkins, left tackle Eric Fisher, cornerback Kendall Fuller, defensive lineman Chris Jones, and guard Andrew Wylie have all been ruled out for Thursday Night’s game. Also, the Chiefs other starting corner, veteran Bashaud Breeland is listed as questionable because of a non-injury family related situation. He did not travel with the team to Denver and could be out for Thursday Night’s game leaving the Chiefs without their two top corners. It’s all falling favorably for the Broncos right now. Here is your full final injury report for the Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs ahead of their game on Thursday Night Football. BOLD - Indicates change in status; NIR­- Indicates not injury related; # - Team did not practice / report is an estimation STATUS DEFINITIONS: Did not participate (DNP); Limited: means less than 100 percent of a player’s normal repetitions; Full: 100 percent of player’s normal repetitions; Out: will not play; Doubtful: Unlikely to play; Questionable: Uncertain to play

  • Broncos hope to take advantage of a beat-up Chiefs team on the short week
    by Just_JoRo on October 16, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    Patrick Mahomes’ ankle will have limited time to heal after Sunday’s loss to the Texans. | Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports Kansas City’s injured list is a mile long; can Vic Fangio and the Denver Broncos take advantage? Thursday Night games are a cruel beast in the NFL world. Every snap in a football game mirrors the impact of a car crash on the human body, so every minute to heal makes a difference. By cutting three days of rest off a week, the league office cuts close to half of a players’ time to heal between games. The short week creates a battle of attrition between teams, so one of the unsung factors that bears monitoring as the game creeps up is the injury status of all the participants. To get a little more information on the matter I spoke with Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney. 1st and 10: With two straight losses and the national media continuing with the injury-marred narrative, what are the biggest concerns for Kansas City coming into this game? Is Patrick Mahomes hobbled? The most significant issue for the Chiefs right now is Patrick Mahomes’ ankle, and it is compounded this week with only four days to treat it before Kansas City takes on the Denver Broncos. The past few weeks, Mahomes has looked comfortable at the start of games, and that has led to the magnificence we’re used to from the MVP. Once he re-aggravates the ankle, it has been a different story entirely. This play was the game.#Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes appears to re-injure his ankle and also smacks his head off the turf.Before: 10/16, 189 yards, 2 TDs (about 20 mins. of game time) After: 9/19, 84 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT (about 40 mins. game time)— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) October 14, 2019 Besides Mahomes’ ankle, the Chiefs are missing defensive tackle Chris Jones — one of the best defensive players in the league — along with starting left tackle Eric Fisher. 2nd and 8 When I looked at the practice report the Chiefs seem to have a lot of banged up offensive linemen. Is that an area where Denver may be able to find an advantage? The Chiefs are onto their backup left tackle in Erving and their third left guard in Martinas Rankin. The Chiefs acquired Rankin from the Houston Texans right before the season for Carlos Hyde. If the Chiefs keep the second-year offensive lineman in the lineup on Thursday, it will be his sixth career start and second start this year. So yes, there is much more of an advantage attacking the left. On the right is right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and right tackle Mitch Schwartz, a three-time All-Pro and an individual who has found rare success against Von Miller. 3rd and 3 What’s the word on Sammy Watkins? Will he play? Have Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman impressed you with their playing time? Denver has banged up secondary, how scared should Broncos Country be? Sammy Watkins has been ruled out for the second straight game. Demarcus Robinson and Mecole Hardman have been able replacements who have each had one team-leading game each (Robinson had 172 yards against the Raiders in Week 2 and Hardman had 97 yards against the Ravens in Week 3), but neither of the two offers what Watkins offers to Mahomes and the Chiefs. The #Broncos are catching Kansas City at an opportune time...— Joe Rowles (@JoRo_NFL) October 16, 2019 4th and 1 Tell me what you see happening for Denver to shock the NFL and beat the Chiefs. If the Broncos can get to Mahomes early on and make him uncomfortable, they will significantly improve their chances of winning this football game. Like the Ravens, the Broncos should try to score as much as possible, going for it on fourth down and if it makes sense, the two-point conversion. Like the Lions and Colts, make the Chiefs face man coverage and rough up Kelce at the line. Like the Texans, keep the Chiefs offense off the field and without opportunity with long, methodical drives. Like them all, simply hand the ball off to Phillip Lindsay. This is a third-and-1 play. This is a college football gap. Whew. The Texans definitely couldn't create many of these last year.— Rivers McCown (@riversmccown) October 16, 2019 Prediction: In Kansas City, I’ve been saying that I wish I did not have to pick this game because in my mind, it is that much of a coin-flip. With that in mind, I can’t bet against Mahomes, though I’ll feel much better about him after this game with 10 days rest. Chiefs 27, Broncos 24

  • Can the Broncos beat KC for the first time since 2015?
    by Ian St. Clair on October 16, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images The Broncos have lost seven-straight to their division rivals. Here are the keys to breaking that streak on Thursday. The Denver Broncos have lost seven-straight to the Kansas City Chiefs. Think about that. Actually, check that, don’t think about that, because if you’re like me, that will just make you irrationally angry. The last time the Broncos beat Kansas Shitty was in Week Two of the 2015 season. The Jamaal Charles fumble at the end of the game recovered and returned by Bradley Roby for a miraculous touchdown. From that point? No need to discuss this further. It’s actually been even longer since Denver beat the Chiefs at home — Week Two of the 2014 season. Is this the week the Broncos (2-4 overall, 1-1 in the AFC West) end this ridiculous losing streak to Kansas City (4-2, 1-0)? On the MHR Radio Podcast (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify), Adam Malnati and I think the Broncos will actually/finally beat KC and end this maddening losing streak on Thursday Night Football. Offensive Rankings Kansas City: Third in overall offense (422.0 yards), 24th in rushing (82.7), first in passing (339.3) and fifth in points (28.7). Denver: Nineteenth in overall offense (336.2 yards), 14th in rushing (116.0), 23rd in passing (220.2) and 26th in points (17.7). Defensive Rankings Kansas City: Twenty-seventh in overall defense (406.2 yards), 30th in rushing (161.8), 19th in passing (244.3) and 19th in points (24.0). Denver: Fourth in overall defense (307.8 yards), 18th in rushing (111.8), fourth in passing (196.0) and seventh in points (17.7). Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Thursday’s game. Fast start on offense Joe Flacco, Rich Scangarello and the Broncos offense need to get out to a quick start. Come out and punch Kansas City in the mouth. In the process, get Broncos Country even more fired up and loud, as well as the defense. Put the reeling Chiefs back on their heels. — Ian St. Clair Score touchdowns While the Kansas City defense has gotten a lot of flak for its performance in the last couple of games, it’s only allowed 50 percent of opponents red zone opportunities to turn into touchdowns. Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid will put up points, it’s critical for the Broncos to do everything possible to keep up. — Just_JoRo Running game Use the running game to control the clock and keep Mahomes off the field. Even though he is banged up, he can still take over a game if he is allowed. Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman have been a solid running back duo all season, and if they can chew up yards and clock it will prevent a possible shootout scenario. — Adam Malnati Get after Mahomes For this particular game, I think the formula for disrupting the Chiefs’ excellent offense may be relatively simple: Get after Mahomes. The Chiefs’ offensive line is hurting at the moment, and Mahomes’ own play has been shaky these last few weeks as he’s nursed an injured ankle. Mahomes’ completion percentage dropped 16 percent in his last three games vs his first three games this season, and his passing touchdown production was cut in half. So getting after him early and often, and hopefully notching some sacks or at least some clean quarterback hits, may have a good chance of throwing him off his game where it normally wouldn’t. If Von Miller and company can do that, the odds of interceptions and other mistakes that can turn the game in the Broncos’ favor go up significantly. — Taylor Kothe Game management One thing that could be interesting is game management from the head coaches. Reid is infamous for mismanaging timeouts and situational football. Fangio called multiple timeouts on special teams as a rookie head coach vs the Tennessee Titans. That could make the difference between winning and losing. — Luke Patterson MHR Radio is now on ApplePodcasts, Google Play, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Stitcher,TuneIn and anywhere else you get your podcasts. Please subscribe to the one that fits your fancy, and also rate and review what you hear. What are your keys to the Broncos finally beating KC?

  • Broncos vs Titans: The No Bull Review
    by sadaraine on October 16, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports The Denver Broncos have won two in a row. The defense even shut out the Tennessee Titans, which is no small feat in the NFL. Here are my thoughts, opinions, and analysis on the game. That’s two in a row, which feels pretty darn good to this fan. Add to it that we dominated the Titans defensively and you have good reason to celebrate, Broncos Country. Why? We’re just 2-4 at this point, right? Because it is growth, that’s why. We’re seeing an actual competent coaching staff for the first time in three years and this game was great evidence of it, especially on defense. Defense Vic Fangio is tinkering with his roster, and his scheme while he and his staff are coaching their asses off to get this defense trained up and ready to execute and this was honestly the first game that my eyes tell me that the defense is really starting to get it. We finally saw an impactful opportunistic pass rush with contributions all across the line that led to turnovers by the secondary. That’s when defense gets fun. I don’t think the defense is completely hitting its stride yet...part of the credit of the last performance belongs to a poor showing by the Titans’ offense. The coaches are lining up the chess board every week now, and it is starting to look like the players are starting to get a much better understanding of how to execute the plays properly. Front 7 Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Let’s kick this section off with none other than Colorado’s own Mike Purcell. I am absolutely loving what this cat is doing for our run defense. Having him in the middle holding it down with Shelby Harris kicked outside where he’s more effective is some really good medicine for this defense. Purcell had not one, but two TFLs in the game that everyone noticed. But the biggest difference he’s making for this defense is keeping the LOS sound instead of letting it get pushed two yards deep or more on every play. Another guy we haven’t talked about much in this year’s NBR is Derek Wolfe. It was so cool to see him able to get two impactful sacks in the game, two TFLs, and two QB hits to add to it. That’s a frigging stellar game for a 3-4 DE. Speaking of DEs, let’s give a big shout out to DeMarcus Walker who had himself a hell of a game as well with two sacks, two TFLs, and 2 QB hits. It is good to see the guy playing hungry and showing Broncos Country some of the superb technique we saw from him in college leading to big plays for the defense. Let’s add to it though: he did that in 24 snaps as a rotational guy. That’s what we want to see from a guy who hasn’t cracked the starting lineup yet. Probably the darling of the whole group right now has to be Alexander Johnson, though. Johnson is a joy to watch at ILB compared to what we’ve been used to seeing the past couple of years for the Broncos. He’s got great lateral quickness, good instincts, and flies to the ball on every play. He finished this game with 1.5 sacks, nine tackles, one TFL, and two QB hits. Secondary Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Chris Harris Jr. finally got thrown on more than a couple of times in this game and showed every young NFL QB why that’s a really bad idea. He had two passes defensed, one INT, and a forced fumble. That’s impact from a corner, and I really loved seeing him back at nickel off and on throughout the game. Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports I gave my game ball this week to Kareem Jackson and let me tell you I straight up have a Bronco man-crush on this guy. He plays with fire as a safety and those of you who have been reading my stuff know I absolutely love good safety play. He’s the glue that is helping everything work in this defense. He can attack the pass or the run and his play diagnosis is second to none on the team. All of this lead to a pick, a TFL, and a pass defensed. If you get a chance, take a peek at how the defense flows on the side he’s helping on any given play. The corners underneath play great technique because they KNOW he’s going to be at the right place to help. Let’s not leave out Justin Simmons in our love fest for the secondary, though. He got a pick in this game along with a pass defensed and is normally playing the FS role in this scheme. Fangio is turning both him and Jackson into Pro Bowl-level safeties right before our eyes. Last but not least, let’s give some love to Davontae Harris who started at outside CB for the Broncos as a second-year player and is doing a really sound job out there. I keep seeing things he could do better, but in general he’s staying in the right place, playing the right technique, and attacking the ball carrier which is what you want to see from your corners. He’ll learn better angles for tackling as the year goes on, but with our defense not being man-0 all the time, the team always has a guy coming over the top to clean up. Things will get exciting for Davontae when he gets to the point where he can be left on an island more often whether the scheme calls for it or not. Offense I’m not going to complain too much as any time you win by two scores, that’s a good frigging game in the NFL. But I still feel like this offense can do a lot more than what we are seeing. In general it seemed like Rich Scangarello was playing it safe, given the defense’s proclivity for winning the field every time they went out there. Quarterbacks Joe Flacco had one of his worst games so far this year against the Titans. Granted, he didn’t need to do much given the competition, but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth to see a good QB have an off day like this. The biggest thing dragging down Flacco’s showing was the INT, which was underthrown a little bit, but I feel more than anything, that pick was a poor showing for Noah Fant, who wasn’t aware enough to make a play on the ball in any way. Line Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports Do you all remember Garett Bolles? I do. Though he’s been playing so well I haven’t really noticed him. I like that. Let’s keep that plan going the rest of the year. I do notice Elijah Wilkinson though, and that is not a positive experience. He’s getting beat fairly often and is honestly a pretty big factor in this offense keeping a lid on things. Hopefully we’ll see Ja’Wuan James get healthy so Elijah doesn’t have to keep holding down a position he’s not well suited for. Ron Leary is looking pretty bad lately too out there. He’s good for 1-2 penalties a game now and just isn’t the solid guard we saw when we signed him a couple of years ago. I’m not one to say he’s ready for the bench, but he’s definitely inching closer if you watch the line play lately from the Broncos. Running Backs Royce Freeman, my boy, I’m not sure if you are hearing this enough from your coaches so I’ll say it here - can you stop trying to juke so much and bounce your runs outside so far? That’s not who you are, and the NFL players you are going against are too fast for you to make it. Turn your frigging shoulders up-field and blast ahead for a few more yards instead. That is how you add to this offense. You aren’t a back like Lindsay, and you don’t need to prove anything to anyone about your ability to bounce outside. I bet you’d add damn near a yard to your rushing average in any one game if you’d stop bouncing outside so much. Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images Phillip Lindsay is getting all the attention when he’s out there and still had a solid day against a pretty decent Titans run defense. All I know is the dude keeps scoring TDs, and I keep getting free 6-packs of pop for it. Feed this guy the ball, coach! Receivers Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports Courtland Sutton is the man for this Bronco offense. The only complaint I have here is why aren’t we using him more? He’s a big play-making menace on the football field who went from a guy last year who looked tall and fast that could run go routes and catch jump balls really well to a NFL route runner who is a danger on any play to house it. I liked what we saw from DaeSean Hamilton in this game. He had two really meaningful catches over the middle that were big gains for the Broncos. Hopefully he builds on that with confidence and becomes another serious weapon for this offense to utilize each week. Special Teams Diontae Spencer is going to house a kickoff return this year if teams keep kicking him returnable kickoffs. The guy has that legit speed you want in a returner paired with great eyes for finding the best angles for his returns. It was relieving to see Brandon McManus hit a long one for the first time in a long time. He had a great game with 3 FGs that kept the game very comfortable for the Broncos as the game wore on. Final Thoughts As good as I’m feeling about this team, I can’t shake the knowledge that the team they face on Thursday is going to be a challenge of a different level. Nothing about this win makes the Broncos feel anything close to “right” yet. But I’m encouraged to see a team starting to get a real strength in their defense that is starting to give offenses big-time headaches. If we can pair that with an offense that can keep a defense on its heels by scoring more 24+ a game, we can beat anyone in the NFL.


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