The Broncos are 3-0. *
With Lamar Jackson coming to our dusty old Cow Town, here’s his chance to remove the asterisk.
“It’s really like a playoff game at the start of the season,” linebacker Von Miller said on Thursday. “A lot of these guys[in the Denver locker room]haven’t even played in the first playoff game, and my message to these guys is this: ‘It’s a playoff game at the start of the season. It’s time for us to show it’ That’s what we got against a worthy opponent.'”
Well, no win in October can ensure a berth in the NFL playoffs. But a bad defeat can make a team appear as cheating.
This is the biggest game for Denver since Super Bowl 50 in February 2016.
The Broncos have been on the dark side of the NFL moon for the better part of five years. Stop Lamar Jackson and the Broncos may come to light of respect and admiration in a league where they are considering after a very long time.
Here we won’t know until Miller knocks Jackson on his keyster and scores some asterisks against the Ravens, leading the league in rushing 185 yards per game. Baltimore has racked up at least 100 yards in 42 straight games and will hit the century mark against Denver to set a league record.
Is this really the Denver Defense? Do the Broncos Have a Legitimate, Top-Five-In-NFL, Shutdown D? Or is this group picking the young quarterback with no clue?
Preparing to face Jackson, Denver safety Justin Simmons said: “If we’re going to win on Sunday, the defense has to be extraordinary.”
Simmons and his teammates have heard the same yada, yad, remember Like everyone else in Broncos country. This team is undefeated, but… nothing has really been proven, as the scent giants, the tyrannical Jaguars and the pathetic Jets are a combined 0-9.
The Broncos have made their September schedule softer and tastier than a dish of Sweet Cow Dreamsicle ice cream. And from the offensive line to the linebacking core, rising injuries threaten to destabilize early success. It’s yada, yada, yada a team that has failed to reach the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, until it makes a bold statement to silence the opponents.
Denver coach Vic Fangio is a mad defensive scientist on game day. But here’s the speculation as to whether Uncle Vic will try to engage Jackson with a four-man crowd and zone coverage, which allows as many defenders as possible to keep an eye on Lamar for three, four, five, or how many seconds. Allows, because he tries. Expand plays.
“The first three seconds of play won’t necessarily be the problem. It’s the next three, four, five, six seconds later that pose a huge problem for any defense. Nine times out of 10, you’re able to handle concepts. Will be and be able to communicate those things, especially with our defenses,” Simmons said. “But that is what (Jackson) makes up for later. Then he gets into that backyard football. “
While quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has exceeded all expectations as a leader of men’s and scoring drives, what would make or break the Broncos as a legitimate threat to win the AFC West for the first time since 2015 is the defense. In almost any defensive category, from yards per game (221.7) to points per forced (3.2), Denver is either first or second in the D-League.
But without injured starts Bradley Chubb, Josie Jewell and Ronald Darby, can the Broncos fulfill their wish against 2019 NFL Most Valuable Player Jackson?
Here the Broncos have a big chance to prove that in the third year of Fangio’s reign, he has indeed built up a championship-caliber defense.
“It’s going to be a really good challenge for us,” Simmons said. “All the goals and aspirations that we have as a defense and those we verbally say, it’s going to fulfill itself on Sunday, if that’s what we want to be.”