Are You Not Entertained? - Doug Pensinger
Its that time again to look across the field and find out how the bad guys are looking at this showdown.
1. Peyton has seemed to really make a tremendous impact with Denver. Has he converted all the Tebow fans or are there still some out there that believe that Tim should still be a Bronco?
- The past two years with Tebow on the team, while exciting, were very hard and confusing for Bronco fans. When Tebow was drafted, Mile High Report inherited his fan base and while we saw a massive growth in traffic, there came with it a lot of Tebow-first fans. So in the end there were two groups of fans, Tebow-first fans and Broncos fans who liked Tebow.
While many Bronco fans became Tebow fans, those Tebow-first fans moved on almost immediately after he was traded (but not before leaving a bunch of trolling posts). But the Broncos got lucky, if any QB could convert the Broncos fans who liked Tebow, it was Peyton Manning. While there are some fans who still wish Tebow was around, there is zero regret at this point about Manning. As the saying goes, winning cures everything.
2. Speaking of Peyton, tell us how he's made the Bronco players around him better and who is a player on offense we might have not have heard of but will know by the end of Sunday?
- The effect of Peyton have been tremendous. From the get go he makes the offensive line better since he's one of the least sacked quarterbacks of all time. The wide receivers of the Broncos, who are mostly younger players, had some trouble with Tebow since he wasn't a timing or route throwing quarterback. It has taken some time for the wideouts to adjust to Peyton since he requires perfection in terms of route running and timing, but now that they have adjusted Peyton has taken the wideouts to a level they haven't seen in their careers, at least since Kyle Orton was quarterback their rookie years.
High exceptions from a demanding future Hall of Famer are powerful motivations, and the Broncos top two wideouts, Eric Decker and Demaryious Thomas, have both talked about how respect goes a long way when your QB is being critical of you. When Tebow would correct them, in their minds they could point out his flaws, with Peyton around they can't do that.
3. Denver, like the Bucs, are sort of an enigma. Of their 7 victories, the Broncos are 2-3 against teams with winning records (Tampa Bay is 1-2). Have the Broncos just feasted on the weak AFC West or are they really this good?
- While very few members of our site and fanbase would want to admit that, a weak schedule did play a big part in the Broncos current record. But it only tells part of the story, the other half is that those three losses came early in the season while the offense (and a recovering Peyton) was still adjusting and coming into form. While it is true the Broncos have struggled in games they shouldn't, watching the development of the offense has been impressive, the wideouts aren't the same players they were early in the season, the same can be said for Peyton.
The Broncos remaining schedule is also fairly weak, and while the Broncos may face a test when it comes to the playoffs, at this point, making the playoffs is the main goal. The other differences as well have been the return of players to the team from injury and suspension. Former team captain and tackle leader D.J. Williams has just recently returned from suspension and dual threat tight end Virgil Green has returned as well.
4. Both Denver and Tampa Bay have been the hottest offenses in the league with the Broncos averaging 30.5 pts a game and the Bucs averaging 31.6 pts per game over their past seven games. What has been Denver's secret to success on offense?
- Peyton Manning, pure and simple. The offense the Broncos run is nearly exactly like that he ran in Indy. With that though, a strong run game provided by veteran running back Willis McGahee, and since his injury Knowshon Moreno, has greatly helped Peyton. This balance on offense has allowed both the run and pass game to operate at will without becoming one dimensional. When Peyton gets contained the run game can step in and win the game (Oakland and New Orleans are two examples) and the opposite holds true. I'm sure you guys understand very that balance can win games, some games Freeman is the key, other games it's Martin, sometimes it's both.
5. The Broncos defense has been impressive as well, ranking 4th overall. However, against some of the better offenses in the league (New England, Atlanta, Houston, New Orleans and Cincinnati) they've surrendered an average of 354.6 yds a game and 24 pts a game. Where are the weak areas of the defense that the better offenses has had the opportunity to attack?
- The Broncos biggest weakness on defense tends to be against receiving tight ends. The Broncos have lacked a linebacker to cover them while D.J. Williams was serving his suspension, and it cost the Broncos games. Along those lines, the Broncos safeties have been up and down. While 2nd year safety Rahim Moore has improved, he isn't up to task of covering top TE's or WR's in man coverage and tends to mis-read quarterbacks in zone coverage. Veteran safety Mike Adams is the premier pass rushing safety, leading safeties with 11 pressures, but struggles in man coverage.
Having said that, the Broncos have tried to compensate with a lot of man coverage by the Broncos excellent corners, lead by future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey. So for the Bucs to try and attack these weaknesses they'll need to go deep over the middle and attack those safeties and keep using Dallas Clark like you've been doing and you should be able to try and break this passing defense.
Bonus: Who wins and why?
- Got to go with the Broncos, though not as easy as many Broncos fans think. The Bucs are a VERY talented team. Their offense is loaded across the board and can keep up with any offense in the league and the Bucs have the ability to pressure the quarterback and stop the run. Ronde Barber in the secondary makes them better, but if they still had Talib and Wright, I would be much more willing to sway the Bucs way. This could very easily be a shootout, and after watching the Bucs-Falcons game last week, I can honestly say this might be one of my favorite games of the season, excited and nervous are understatements.