Bills vs Broncos Game Preview


On Sunday afternoon the Buffalo Bills will travel to Denver to take on the defending AFC Champion Denver Broncos. At this point in the season every game is like a playoff game for the Bills, who are competing with several other AFC teams for the 2 wildcard playoff spots. The Bills December schedule is very daunting, beginning Sunday in Denver.

Las Vegas has installed the Broncos as 11 point favorites heading into Sundays game, making the Bills the biggest underdog on the betting slip for Sunday. While I understand that Peyton Manning is Peyton Manning and the Broncos are the reigning AFC Champions, that still seems a bit high to me. With the way that the Bills defense has been playing this season I find it hard to envision the Bills getting blown out tomorrow.

In my opinion, the only way the Bills get blown out is if the offense comes out and falls totally flat on their face (much like they did in the first half of last weeks game and the entire second half of the Miami game). Is that possible? Of course it is, but it is just as possible that the Bills defense dominates the game and keeps them in it until the very end. I know I am a homer and all, but I just don’t understand all of the hatred in the media this week. It seems that every “expert” are dismissing the Bills and most assume that victory is all but a formality for the Broncos, the only thing that is an unknown is by just how many points will the Broncos win.

I have been watching football a long time and I have seen this script way to many times before. The media and experts all but discount a teams chances only to see the upset happen anyway. Look at Super Bowl XLII where the undefeated Patriots lost to the Giants. The Giants defense battered Tom Brady and won the game and afterwards cited the disrespect in the media as one of the driving forces for their victory.

Or, last years Super Bowl where the Seahawks demolished the Broncos. The Super Bowl was supposed to be a crowning moment for Peyton Manning who would win his second Lombardi Trophy and ride off into the sunset as the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. Instead it was the Seahawks defense that took Peyton’s crown and bashed him upside the head with it en route to a blowout victory.

What am I getting at? That defense wins games in the NFL despite the fact that offense gets most of the attention these days. If the Bills defense can get to Peyton Manning early and often than that changes the entire game. If the defensive line and blitz packages designed by Jim Schwartz get home and rush Peyton than he could be in for a long day. Peyton Manning no longer possesses the arm strength he once did and no relies on timing routes and getting the ball out in under 3 seconds every time he drops back to pass. It’s up to the Bills defense to not let that happen.

Listen, I get why the Broncos get the respect that they do, they have earned it by being one of the best teams in the NFL over the past 3 seasons. However, they have lost games, and they have lost at home during that stretch. They are by no means unbeatable. Can the Bills pull off the upset on Sunday? Yes. Will they? I think so. How will they achieve that? Let’s take a look at a few keys to victory for the Bills:

1) Pressure, hit, and sack Peyton Manning. Manning has shown over his magnificent career that he will make you pay if you blitz and do not get home with it. The Bills and Jim Schwartz are experts at this and have been getting better as the season has worn along. If the Bills defensive line can pressure, hit, and sack Peyton Manning than they will be putting themselves in a great spot for the upset.

2) Do not turn the ball over. You simply cannot give a team like the Broncos extra possessions by giving the ball away. The Bills need to take care of the ball and make sure they don’t give Manning and his offense any extra shots to score points. It would be even better if the Bills could nab a turnover or two and give themselves some extra scoring opportunities. Ball security and forcing turnovers is paramount to winning tomorrow.

3) Red Zone execution. The Bills have been struggling with finish drives all season and have one of if not the worst red zone percentage in the NFL. They need to finish drives with touchdowns tomorrow and not give away or squander scoring chances. Every single point will count tomorrow.

4) Take some chances. The Bills are in a position where nobody is giving them a chance to win the game. Why not have some fun? I would love to see a surprise onside kick, fake punt or field goal, or trick play tomorrow. Why not? The Bills never try it and would likely catch the Broncos sleeping. It could create a game changing play if they decide to take the chance tomorrow.

5) No stupid penalties. It seems like there is a stupid penalty every week that either negates a big play, extends a drive for the opposition, or shoot themselves in the foot every week. The Bills can’t do that tomorrow. They need to play smart football and not put the officials in a position where they can change the outcome of the game with a stupid yellow flag.

Tomorrow should be fun. It is exciting knowing that the Bills are playing meaningful football into December for the first time in a decade. If things break right tomorrow the Bills could find themselves in a wildcard spot with just 3 weeks to go. It has been a crazy season of ups and downs but knowing that the Bills are still in it makes it all worth it.

As for my prediction? I firmly believe that the Bills will play their best game of the season tomorrow and put themselves in a position to score the upset win late in the fourth quarter. Their defense knows they have to play their best game of the season and Jim Schwartz knows Peyton Manning well from his days as defensive coordinator of the Titans. I see the upset of the season tomorrow. A late Dan Carpenter field goal brings the curtains down and the Bills walk out of Denver as winners.

BILLIEVE it and it will happen!

Bills 23 Broncos 21.