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Five good questions with Broncos blog Mile High Report

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The Raiders face the dreaded Denver Broncos tonight in a short week. Peyton Manning and co. come to town with designs on carving up that weak Raiders defense. So I spoke with Chris Doll from Broncos blog Mile High Report to get some answers about the team coming to Oakland tonight. This is what he said.


1. What happened with the Broncos against the Chiefs last week? How is it they were trailing for a time and nearly lost?

Tough question, and the best answer was it's Arrowhead and the Chiefs are tough there. It's not like the offense played terrible, Manning was 59.5% accurate and had 2 TD's to 1 INT and Moreno had a good game running the ball.

The defense played well too with two sacks and an INT, but neither side of the Broncos played GREAT, they were just good, and in a tough stadium like Arrowhead, against a team that has nothing to lose, it can be tough.
That may sound like a lot of excuses, but there really isn't a good reason, and while Broncos fans may not like hearing it, outside of the Bucs and Steelers, the Broncos haven't beaten a good team.

2. What does the loss of Wesley Woodyard do to the Denver defense?

The loss, while tough, came at the best time. The return of the former starting WLB D.J. Williams from suspension will greatly soften the blow. Williams was the starter and Woodyard the backup in the off-season but with Williams suspension, Woodyard has been starting in his place. The other major bright side to this situation has been the surprising development of 6th round pick LB Danny Trevathan, who no one expected to see much playing time, but has started taking a large number of snaps, especially from the nickel.

Losing Woodyard hurts the Broncos since he has played so well this since but the return of D.J. Williams and the development of Danny Trevathan will help ease the letdown in terms of overall play.

3. Has there been a big drop off in production between Willis McGahee and Knowshon Moreno?

Surprising no. While McGahee did start the season strong he had started to slow down before his injury. Now if that was due to age or another nagging injury, we don't know, but Moreno has done well. He played very effectively against the Chiefs (85 rushing yards, 4.25 YPC) and actually did better than expected against the #1 run defense in Tampa (69 yards, 3.45 YPC). He really hasn't been given a lot of carries, which is why he hasn't topped 100 yards yet, but with the desire to keep Manning's arm fresh into the playoffs, the Broncos may give Moreno 22-25 carries, which may put him over 100 yards.

4. What chinks have you seen in Peyton Manning's armor? I mean besides his lack of mobility because that has never mattered anyway.

The biggest flaw early in the season was Manning's deep accuracy, he didn't complete a pass over 20 yards until the 2nd half of the 2nd game. That really affected the gameplan as the Broncos didn't go deep very often, up till week 6 the Broncos ranked last in pass attempts over 20 yards. But as the season has gone on Manning has improved his deep accuracy, currently he's the top ranked deep passer in terms of accuracy, though the Broncos still aren't going deep often, ranking 14th in deep passes per attempts.

Since he has overcome that flaw, the biggest remaining flaw may be that Manning is still developing chemistry with his new wideouts. While he has made huge strides with the offense, he still relies heavily on timing routes, and while he had years of experience with his Indy teammates, he hasn't mastered the routes and timings in Denver, and that miscommunication has been the #1 reason for turnovers by Peyton. If the Raiders want to stop Manning they need to play physical against the Broncos receivers and disrupt the timing and route running.

5. We all know about Peyton on offense, the pass rushers Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil and the coverage of Champ Bailey on defense. But who on this team has stood out this season we may not know about?

Robert Ayers, who was a starting defensive end from 2009 to 2011, was benched at the beginning of the season, but has slowly worked his way to nearly taking as many snaps as the starters, both as a end and as a tackle. While he isn't the sack machine Dumervil is, he is the best end the Broncos have against the run and has also notched a sack and two pass deflections on his way to earning his starting job back.

One other person deserving of notice is cornerback Chris Harris. Last season he was the Broncos starting nickel corner when Syd'Quan Thompson went down, and did a decent job as a rookie, but this season he has improved leaps and bounds and looks fantastic out on the field, with 2.5 sacks and 2 interceptions, he's a capable pass rusher and play maker.

To see my answers to his questions, click here.