|09-08-2007, 05:00 AM||#1|
Join Date: Apr 2006
Scouting report: Broncos at Bills
Strive for five: Jeff Legwold's keys for the Broncos in their game against Buffalo
1 Be special. The Broncos have revamped their approach on special teams, and the luck of the schedule draw gives them one of the best kickoff- and punt-returning teams in the league to try things in the opener. A challenge, but it will say a lot about how far they've really come in the offseason.
2 Look left. Bills defensive end Aaron Schobel is a physical, rush-all-day end. This will be the first regular- season game for left tackle Matt Lepsis since knee surgery. Schobel had 14 sacks in 2006 and is the Bills' big threat up front.
3 Air time. The Bills, who didn't run the ball well last season, did rebuild their offensive front some during the offseason. But they likely will try some four-receiver sets in search of big plays and try to get running back Marshawn Lynch matched up on the Broncos linebackers in the passing game.
4 Pound it. Nothing settles things down on offense like grinding it out in the running game. The Bills are a little undersized through the middle of their defense, and the Broncos have a $25 million running back in Travis Henry.
5 Crank it up. The Broncos have looked lethargic in each of their past two season openers, both on the road. So much so that last year, the offense didn't score a touchdown in a loss to the Rams. The schedule, with six of the last nine on the road, says the Broncos can't afford many slip-ups in the early going and still be a postseason threat.
The game: 11 a.m. MDT on Sunday, Ralph Wilson Stadium (73,967), Orchard Park, N.Y.
The records: Season opener for both teams.
The series: The Bills lead 17-14-1
The previous meeting: December 17, 2005; Broncos 28, Bills 17.
TV/radio: CBS 4; KOA-AM (850), KBNO-AM (1280; Spanish).
Who's favored: Broncos by 3.
Broncos injuries: OUT - G Ben Hamilton (concussion), T Ryan Harris (back). QUESTIONABLE - TE Stephen Alexander (calf), DE Tim Crowder (ankle), CB Karl Paymah (concussion).
Bills injuries: OUT - DE Ryan Denney (foot), LB Keith Ellison (ankle).
When the Broncos run the ball
The skinny: It will be the first real test of what Travis Henry can do in the Broncos run game. Most everybody in the league expects big things from the combination, but the Broncos didn't give him much work in the preseason, and he hasn't played since spraining his left knee in Dallas. The Bills are somewhat undersized overall on defense, with 220-pound Coy Wire, a former safety, lining up at strong-side linebacker. Wire had played strong safety for the Bills but filled in some at linebacker in 2006 after Angelo Crowell suffered a fractured leg. The game also will be the first NFL start for Bills rookie middle linebacker Paul Posluszny.
It's a fact: Running backs averaged 4.7 yards per carry against the Bills last season and scored 14 rushing touchdowns.
When the Broncos pass the ball
The skinny: The Bills defense took a hit when cornerback Nate Clements leapt at an $80 million contract offer from the 49ers in free agency. Terrence McGee, who suffered a concussion in the Bills' preseason loss to the Titans, has been in Clements' former left corner spot. McGee has explosiveness, and while he broke up 13 passes last season, he didn't have an interception. Defensive end Aaron Schobel, who will line up across from Matt Lepsis, had 14 of the team's 40 sacks last season. The Bills aren't as deep as they hoped to be in the pass rush since defensive end Ryan Denney fractured a bone in his left foot during the preseason.
It's a fact: Opponents completed at least 60 percent of their passes in 11 games against the Bills last season, at least 70 percent three times and at least 80 percent once.
When the Bills run the ball
The skinny: With some unsettled play along the offensive line last season, the Bills struggled for much of the year to run the ball with any consistency. And then fearing a prolonged contract impasse, they then traded Willis McGahee to the Ravens in the offseason. Rookie Marshawn Lynch will be the Bills' primary back now. Many scouts considered Lynch the best power/speed combination at the position in the April draft. Lynch also is a quality receiver, so the Broncos, who did not have things under control in the middle of the field during the preseason, likely will see Lynch there in the passing game.
It's a fact: In his career at California, Lynch scored 35 career touchdowns (29 rushing, six receiving) in 35 games and averaged at least 6.1 yards per carry in all three seasons with the Golden Bears.
When the Bills pass the ball
The skinny: The Broncos' specialty packages - nickel and dime - should get some work in this one. Bills offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild, a former Colorado State quarterback, almost certainly will trot out some four-receiver looks the Bills will favor this year. With cornerback Karl Paymah coming off a concussion he suffered in the preseason finale, the Broncos might have to go with some extra safeties instead to fill in the extra spots. Also, the Bills have spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to figure out ways to get the ball to slot receiver Roscoe Parrish. Parrish is a quality returner and has big-time change-of-direction ability to go with 4.4-second speed. When the Bills do push the ball down the field, they're looking for Lee Evans, who averaged more than 15 yards a catch last season. Some teams have had success rushing the right side of the of the Bills' line with Langston Walker at tackle and Brad Butler at guard.
It's a fact: The Bills didn't have much success throwing short last season. Quarterback J.P. Losman was 1-for-8 passing in third-and-1 situations in '06 and 3-for-11 passing on third-and-2.
The skinny: The Bills have the edge here, at least in terms of résumé in the return game, with the likes of McGee and Parrish catching kickoffs and punts, respectively. Brian Moorman also consistently has been one of the league's best punters in one of the most difficult places for a punter to play. This is a big test right out of the gate for the Broncos' revamped coverage units. McGee and Parrish work well in traffic, and if the first defender on the scene doesn't get them down, they'll usually do some damage.
It's a fact: The Broncos have not returned a punt for a touchdown since Rod Smith did it in 2003 and haven't returned a kickoff for a touchdown since Deltha O'Neal had one in 2000.
The skinny: In Mike Shanahan's tenure as coach, the Broncos have the league's best record during the first month of the season. But they are also 1-3 in road openers, including losses to start each of the past two seasons, under Shanahan. The defense was shaky in the preseason, the offense untested, but in the end, the Broncos run the ball well and the Bills simply have not defended it well. That should be the difference.
Jeff Legwold's prediction: Broncos 24-13
|09-08-2007, 05:25 AM||#2|
A verbis ad verbera
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Long Beach
Broncos should use Graham to chip and pound on the Bills Dends. I mean just have graham dog them all day long until they are so sick of him they want to puke.
|09-08-2007, 07:42 AM||#3|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Apr 2001
The key for the defense is to show an ability to stop a Bills drive on third down.
On offense for Denver the key is pass protection.
|09-08-2007, 09:34 AM||#4|
Join Date: Sep 2007
A Bills Fan here: If the Bills spread 4 wideouts watchout for parrish. Except for a long one to Evans (maybe) parrish could be the key to the Bills passing game.
|09-08-2007, 09:49 AM||#5|
Fan of the home team
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Durango, Colorado
The biggest issues is not what the Bills do on offense but how the Broncos defense reacts. We have a lot of guys in unproven roles that might show their butts at the wrong time.
The Broncos should focus on giving the Bills a steady diet of Travis Henry. I think the longer they keep the Bills Defense on the field the more Losman will have to throw it out there. Losman will throw three picks if they he gets too hurried. Oh yeah. Our defensive front four. There is a question mark for you. It depends on who shows up.
Last edited by Odysseus; 09-08-2007 at 09:57 AM..