The Denver Broncos have the opportunity to wrap up the AFC West this Sunday with their seventh straight win against the upstart Buccaneers. Over the past seven weeks Tampa Bay has been playing excellent football, but loss a close game to the Falcons last week. The Broncos’ defense have been playing outstanding football over the six game winning streak and had another good game last week, holding the Chiefs to only nine points.
Peyton Manning is going to take advantage of the Buccaneers’ secondary. Tampa Bay’s secondary ranks as the worst in the league in terms of giving up yards per game. I would expect the Broncos to take advantage of that deficiency, but the Buccaneers have been able to get some takeaways, led by long time corner turned safety, Ronde Barber.
Keys to the Game: Denver’s defense needs to prevent the big plays from happening. The Bucs offense have been known for quick score opportunities this season, with the elusiveness of running back Doug Martin and the down field threat of receiver Vincent Jackson. These big plays have been predicated on the ability to draw the defense in with the consistency of Doug Martin. If Denver can limit Martin’s production on the ground they will be able to force Josh Freeman to convert on third downs, which they are only succeeding at a 34% clip.
Develop an early running game. If the Broncos can put a threat of a running game on the field with Knowshon Moreno, they will be able to throw the ball all over the field on this secondary. Manning is way too efficient, with these talented receivers, to not throw for a lot of success on this defense. But the key is to make sure that the defense has to at least honor the run, which will allow Denver to abuse the corners all day.
Keep the home field advantage. The Denver crowd can be deafening. If the Broncos can jump on the young Bucs early, they may be able to keep them off balance with the silent snap count. If the crowd is into this game, it could become a long day for the Buccaneers.
Injuries: Both of these teams come into his game very healthy. The Buccaneers have four probables, who will end up playing for them in this pivotal game. The Broncos’ Brandon Stokley is listed as questionable. Even if he does not play, Denver will have enough weapons to take advantage of the Bucs’ secondary.
Final Analysis: This will be a high scoring affair. If you are a betting man, consider taking the over, which is 50.5. The Broncos will score all day long and win this game in a landslide. Denver 38 Tampa Bay 27.