Three things on my mind as Bills fans get ready to stay up late for a third consecutive week…
The Broncos run a pretty efficient passing game with Sean Payton and Russell Wilson. Denver has the highest touchdown percentage in the league (TDs per pass) and one of the lower interception percentages (I’m sure you get it). However, they don’t actually move the ball a ton through the air. They haven’t passed for more than 194 yards in their last four games. And this is the good version of Denver.
What the Broncos have done lately is run the ball. They have nearly 300 yards on the ground the last two weeks (both wins) and have not been below 115 yards rushing since week four. Sure, Wilson helps, but it’s mostly been Javonte Williams and undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin who have been carrying the load. Williams is a budding star as a run-pass threat that missed most of last year due to an ACL injury. McLaughlin is the smaller, speedier of the duo.
Job number one for the Bills Monday night must be stopping the run. Remove Denver’s comfort zone. Make Wilson do something he hasn’t done comfortably since the first day of October: be the focus of the offense. Linval Joseph, we’re all looking at you.
Best on Best
Pat Surtain vs. Stefon Diggs might be worth the price of admission by themselves. Getcha popcorn ready dot gif.
Surtain is a 2022 All-Pro and one of the best corners in the league. He might be the only player the Bills will see who can hang at the same level as Sauce Gardner (last year’s other All-Pro corner). Unlike Gardner, Surtain does usually travel with the best receiver on the other team. That means Diggs should get plenty of chances to go head to head.
As much fun as it would be for fans (and probably Diggs) to see the elite individual matchup often, Ken Dorsey would be better suited hiding Diggs with motion and and bunch formations when he can. Surtain’s presence also means the Bills supporting receivers will likely be counted on to be more productive. That’s something which could work out great for us. More on that in a minute
Throw. All. Day.
The good thing for the Bills when they pass the ball is that Denver is pretty poor at bothering quarterbacks. They are dead last in the NFL in pressure percentage, despite being 12th in blitz percentage.
Denver also allows the highest completion percentage in the league with one of the league’s shortest average air distance allowed. All those numbers do likely work hand in hand. Opponents drop back and easily find quick options open, so they make those short throws before the Broncos even sniff a pressure.
That should suit the Bills just fine. I know James Cook has a family and all, but “handoff” should be a four letter word this week. Let Josh Allen feed any option that doesn’t have Surtain nearby all night long.
Dropped my second prop bet of the year last week when Cook did not even scare 70 total yards against the Bengals. I’m down to 7-2 on the season, but still very profitable at 5.6 units in the black.
I’m going to lean into Denver’s willingness to allow completions and take a Bills player’s receptions over. The Surtain factor scares me away from Diggs for this bet, but Dalton Kincaid should work swimmingly. His line is 5.5 receptions. Be careful because he’s only topped this number twice all season and never in a win (he only had five catches against the Bucs). There’s also a warning here because Denver is poor enough to get blown out and reduce the amount of throws Kincaid might have a look at.
That said, Kincaid has caught 23 of 26 targets the last three weeks for a ridiculous 88% catch percentage. That means it should only take seven targets to cash this bet. Kincaid has been 1st, 3rd and 2nd in targets over the last three games. I’m also getting plus money at +124 on DraftKings. All too good pass up.
Denver is coming off an impressive 15-point win over the Chiefs in their last contest two weeks ago. It’s a get your attention type victory.
I don’t think it should be.
Not one of the Broncos four scoring drives in that game began behind midfield. This game was still only 14-9 early in the fourth quarter when Kansas City muffed a punt at their own ten yard line and gave Denver some breathing room with a quick TD. This was also the game where Pat Mahomes was a question to play because of the flu. Just the kind of day where a good number of items seemed to break Denver’s way.
That should not dismiss the Broncos’ improvement on defense since the Miami 70 point debacle. They’ve surrendered only 15 points a game over their last three, which include two games against Mahomes and Andy Reid.
Surtain isn’t the only star in the defensive backfield. Safety Justin Simmons is a former Pro Bowler who had a league high six interceptions last season. They will be dangerous against Allen, who began week ten tied for the most INTs thrown this year (nine).
I’m still skeptical because the same Broncos defense also allowed four TD passes to Justin Fields and 400 yards of offense to the Zach Wilson led Jets. Has Denver legitimately improved or are the last three games a product of a division opponent they know well and one good game against Jordan Love?
I’m interested to see how wired the Broncos are for the start with 14 (Fourteen!) days of rest between games. If Buffalo can survive that, there’s a chance for a very comfortable win Monday night in Orchard Park.
For all the struggles on defense lately, the Bills do have what should be upper level run stopping talent in Joseph and Ed Oliver. Sean McDermott has always done a good job of attacking run heavy offenses. Taron Johnson and Jordan Poyer can be weapons at the line of scrimmage off the edge. Tyrel Dodson is coming off two very good games against the run and should be used with high confidence on early downs.
My gut says Buffalo is ready for a big week against a lesser talented team. Normally, that would lead me to more of a blowout prediction for a final score. But the Bills have been stuck on 24-18 for the last two weeks–a score that’s only happened five other times in NFL history. So, I’m gonna keep riding that… ahem… bronco… until it bucks me. Give me the Bills 24-18.