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Denver Broncos @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Is this the classic, so-called “trap game”? Here we have two teams that seem to be going in different directions, two teams that ended last season in different places, two teams that don’t know each other very well. For the Broncos, this is an out of conference game against what seems a lesser opponent. For the Buccaneers, this is an opportunity to measure up against last year’s Super Bowl champion.
Will the Broncos look past the Buccaneers, happy with their early success and be satisfied with a 3 – 1 record at the quarter pole? This type of game tends to loom large in defining teams. Will the Broncos perform well in a game that, at least on paper, they should win?
The Broncos’ running game was all but shut down last week and while we can all get excited about Trevor Siemian (and I am!), the reality is Gary Kubiak wants balance on his teams. He wants the run to set up the pass. He wants devastating play action and grind-it-out wins. You can’t get that when your team rushes for fewer than 60 yards against the worst run defending team in the league as the Broncos did last week. The Buccaneers have a very strong defensive line and, if the Broncos cannot get CJ Anderson and the run game going this week, they are asking a lot of number 13 to win on the road two weeks in a row without the benefit of a complementary ground game.
The Trevor Siemian is no longer our X-Factor. I promised I’d take him out of the X-Factor category this week if the Broncos beat the Bengals. Beat them they did and all Siemian has going for him right now is that he is the reigning AFC Offensive Player of the week.
No, this week’s X-Factor is the QB on the other side. Jameis Winston had a great year last year and, by all accounts, he is a football junkie and dedicated to the game. If Winston has a terrific performance Sunday, the Buccaneers might steal the home win. Winston can play. However, he also takes risks. It’s possible he will throw more interceptions than touchdowns this week. It’s possible…
Denver is riding high. They are confident. They are strong. They are ready for a fall.
I don’t think they take one here. The team seems too well composed, too well coached and too aware of the stakes. Let’s be honest, many still believe (even 3 games into this season) that last year’s Super Bowl win was a fluke. This team is playing with a chip on its collective shoulder and that’s a bad deal for the rest of the league.
This week, it’s a terrible deal for the Buccaneers. The Broncos should be able to take this one fairly handily. If they do not, something will have gone horribly wrong.