By Rick Brown
The Denver Broncos (2-0) are looking to continue their two-game winning streak as the team travels to New York to play the Buffalo Bills (1-1). The last time the Broncos traveled to Ralph Wilson Stadium in 2011, they were beaten badly, 40-14. The Tim Tebow-led Broncos’ offense could not get anything going and the Bills were able to dominate on both sides of the ball.
Now, the Broncos are dominating on both sides of the ball and the Bills have a difficult test ahead. Buffalo is lacking a deep threat after trading star wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Tyrod Taylor continues to be ineffective as the starting quarterback, which has led to opposing teams focusing on stopping the run. The Bills’ defense is stellar, but without an effective offense this team continues be a middle-of-the-pack team. Even after hiring a new coach, this year’s Bills team does not seem too different than the 2016 edition.
Buffalo Bills (1-0)
The Bills’ roster does not seem all that different from previous years. Tyrod Taylor is still entrenched as the starting quarterback. The Bills and rookie head coach, Sean McDermott, continue to lean on the legs of LeSean McCoy to run the offense. Taylor has flashes of brilliance but continues to rack up pedestrian stats. Buffalo traded Sammy Watkins, the 2014 first-round draft pick, to the Los Angeles Rams during training camp. Since the absence of Watkins, the offense seems to be lacking a big play threat on the outside.
The Bills did not make any big splashes outside of the hiring of a new coach. The team decided to pick up the option on Taylor’s contract for the 2017 season, and the quarterback has continued to be his own worst enemy. Since Watkins has left, teams can bring eight players into the box to stop the run. It is clear that the Bills’ opponents are not respecting the deep ball.
The Bills’ offense is missing a deep threat and has attempted to throw the ball farther than 20 yards only five times. Taylor has done a good job of completing these passes. On the flip side, Taylor completed only 17 passes for 125 yards against the Carolina Panthers (2-0) in Week 2.
If the Bills want to have any chance of beating the Broncos, the team will need big plays from wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Against the Panthers, Matthews was held to three catches for 30 yards. This will be another difficult test for the Bills’ wide receivers. The Broncos’ secondary did a good job of containing a talented Dallas Cowboys’ (1-1) offense.
The Broncos will come running into Orchard Park, NY against a stout Bills defense. The Bills rank 6th overall in defense, 12th against the pass and 5th against the rush. This Bills defense sacked Cam Newton six times and kept the Panthers’ offense out of the end zone.
This defensive unit is a strong one, made up of players that do not receive a lot of recognition, which is a shame. Against the New York Jets (0-2) in Week 1, the Bills held the Jets to 214 total offensive yards. The defensive line and linebackers are a talented group of players led by Marcell Dareus, and Buffalo probably has one of the best defensive lines in the NFL. The Broncos worked diligently to build a strong offensive line during the offseason. This should be a great match up between these two teams.
Players To Watch
The Bills need big games from Taylor, McCoy, and Matthews. This will be no easy task for Buffalo’s offense. Taylor will have to throw against the Broncos’ No Fly Zone, which made Dak Prescott look less than stellar. The Broncos defensive line is performing at an outstanding level. In Week 2, Denver held Ezekiel Elliot to eight yards rushing. To keep the ball moving, McCoy will need to hit the gaps hard and move the piles forward. The Bills will need to attack the middle of the field with Matthews. If the offense is moving the ball effectively, then the defensive players can start making plays.
Defensive end Jerry Hughes sacked Newton twice in Week 2. If the Bills are in the lead, then Hughes can attack the Broncos’ offensive line. Shaq Lawson can also terrorize the Broncos’ o-line with his athletic skills. Along with Dareus, the Bills’ defensive line may be able to push around the Broncos’ offensive line.
Broncos’ starting quarterback, Trevor Siemian, has gotten off to a fast start. The Bills’ secondary should prove to be a difficult test for Siemian this week.
This is a difficult game to predict. This will serve as the Broncos’ first road game of the 2017 season. Along with an injury to Broncos starting left tackle Garett Bolles, the Broncos offense may suffer from an inability to run the ball against the Bills’ defensive line. This could be a low-scoring affair if the Broncos do not get out to a fast start. In the end, the winner will be the team that can create scoring opportunities after turnovers, or the team who’s defense can score some points. Both defenses will confuse and frustrate these young quarterbacks. Look for the Broncos to eek out a win, 13-10.