We have Saturday football coming up as the Buffalo Bills travel to take on a tough Denver Broncos team. This game is important for the Bills because a victory would mean clinching their first AFC East title since 1995. To get a scouting report on Denver, we spoke to Joe Rowles from Mile High Report.
1) As the season comes down the stretch what would you like to see the team improve on most?
Personally I’d love to see Drew Lock and the offense continue to build on what they’ve shown over the better part of the last month. It’s been really encouraging to watch how the run-first identity the Broncos started to really lean on against the Dolphins has helped everyone settle in. [Offensive coordinator Pat] Shurmur has done a better job dialing up play action, which has worked to ease Lock’s reads and help him find open targets. The Broncos have also found their groove on screen passes and done a much better job handling opposing pressure packages as of late.
2) How much has the defense missed Von Miller?
The Broncos defense has performed better than I dared hope for at the beginning of the year, but the lengths Fangio’s gone to adjust really hint at how big a loss they suffered. In year’s past the Broncos’ head coach has shown a preference for coverage over extra rushers, and has earned consternation among Broncos’ Country a time or two for dropping eight in long yardage. Without Miller this year, the Broncos defense has turned towards more blitzing, man coverage, and risk. Both Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell are threats to rush the passer on any down, and odds are Josh Allen will see a nickel blitz or three.
3) How would you rate the performance of Drew Lock this year?
Before the Carolina game, I thought Lock was bad enough that the Broncos ought to investigate every alternative at quarterback. Now that Lock had his most complete game as a pro, I’d say I want to see how he builds off it over the home stretch. He still struggles throwing with anticipation, reading the field, and his mechanics are a roller coaster from down to down. Even still, the arm talent is undeniable and Shurmur’s done a good job bending the offense around his skillset. I want to see how the rest of the season goes.
4) Who is one player that has flown under the radar this season?
I’ll give you two.
1. During camp and leading up to the first game the receiving corps was expected to roll with Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick on the boundary while Jerry Jeudy made hay in the slot. Sutton’s injury has meant Tim Patrick stepped in as the X-receiver the whole way, and he’s done a really commendable job of it. He’s tall with the kind of straight-line speed opponents have to respect while having the concentration and frame to win 50-50 balls or box out an opponent to come down with a catch.
2. Malik Reed had a forgettable game against the Bills last year because he blew contain on Josh Allen, but with Miller out he’s grown into a solid second-tier edge rusher across from Bradley Chubb. Opponents typically work to avoid isolating their tackles on Chubb, which means when the Broncos dial up simulated pressures or blitzes Reed tends to have a one-on-one. If he can win them against Buffalo and hold up as a force player, the Broncos have a shot.
5) Predictions for the game?
I blame the Panthers, but I’m optimistic the Broncos’ offense will do enough to make the game interesting in the first half. The running game and secondary give Buffalo some trouble early before Allen finds a big play on second effort. Things start to unravel as the time bleeds away and in the end, the depleted secondary fails to slow down Stefon Diggs and the Broncos lose by a touchdown.