Tag Archives: Denver Broncos

Beating Vegas: Pile It On

In football, every team has a window.  These windows come and go, but usually once it comes and goes, it’s gone forever.  Some of these teams have “trap” games, or “let down” games.  This week, there are certain teams that need to separate themselves from the pack.  It’s a time to slay their opponent in such fashion that it was an insult to have to play them in the first place. . .

New York Giants +11.5 at Denver Broncos

There are still three win-less teams in the NFL this season.  The first two were predictable: the Browns and the 49ers.  The third is the team from New York. . . no not that one, the other one – the New York Giants.  Before the season started, the Giants were looked upon by many to be a division winner, or a Super Bowl contender.  “Not I,” said the Rabbit.  I couldn’t see how a one dimensional offense with a bottom tier offensive line would survive in today’s NFL.  After last week’s loss to the Chargers, those lofty dreams died, and so did the season for the Giants.  They lost their number one and two receivers for the rest of the season (Beckham and Marshall) and are now clearly the worst in the NFC East.  Eli Manning has been on a downward spiral his last three or four seasons and it’s safe to say the coach, Ben McAdoo has lost his team. On the flip side, the Denver Broncos are 3-1 and have one of the league’s best defenses.  The Broncos are  allowing 260 yards a game, (approximately, 50 rushing yards a game and 210 passing yards a game).  Offensively, this team was supposed to be horrible, but they’ve actually shown a nice balance between the pass and run game. Surprisingly, the rushing pair of CJ Anderson and Jamaal Charles (4.5 and 5.3 yards per rush respectively) have helped give quarterback Trevor Simien something to fall back on.  Truth is, 11.5 is a big number and might just get bigger, but the Giants might not put up more than 2 field goals in this game.  Denver wins because of field positions and Eli Manning turnovers.

The Pick: Denver -11.5

Cleveland Browns +9.5 at Houston Texans

Much like the Giants lost their best player in Odell Beckham Jr, the Texans lost their best player in J.J. Watt.  Unlike the Giants though, the Texans still have a chance to win their division, have a lot of upside and aren’t a plague within their community. Bill O’Brien’s Texans are 2-3 but have found some new life with rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson.  He’s been improving on his completion percentage (now 62%), has thrown 12 touchdowns to his 4 interceptions and is leading the team in rushing with 331 yards.  The Texans defense has been stout but losing JJ Watt and now Whitney Mercilus for the whole season will be huge.  You can’t just say “next man up” when those are the two pairs of shoes to fill.  The Cleveland Browns continue to be the a joke who’s punchline has lost its luster in the league, and it seems that Deshone Kizer project is (mercifully) over in Cleveland, so one would assume that Kevin Hogan will get the nod.  And deservedly so, he has looked better than Kizer whenever given the opportunity.  The Browns rush defense is holding opponents to less than 3 yards a rush, but they also haven’t played against any prolific offenses or seen a QB as athletically versatile as Watson.  Houston has the third most rushing yards in the league, but expect them to take advantage of this horrible pass defense.  Its unfortunate for the Texans, but they know how to play defense without Watt.  Also, if we’re looking at really simple arithmetic-esque patterns, the Texans lost, then won, then lost, then won, then lost. . .guess what’s next?

The Pick: Houston Texas -9.5

Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5 at Arizona Cardinals

The Bucs are 2-2 this year and their best performance was a 5 point LOSS to New England.  This is a team that came into the season with a lot of hype and are now in the reality of “we need to fight every week.”  This week they are playing an Arizona Cardinals team that isn’t very good at all.  We here at Beating Vegas have drank the Kool Aid offered to us by Arizona, not once, but twice and it tasted like trash.  This time, we learned our lesson at Beating Vegas – hopefully.  Carson Palmer is pretty much, literally on his last leg. And although the Cards are second in the league when in comes to passing yards, the average yard per completion is less than 7 and they are completing passes at a rate of 59%.   The rushing game doesn’t help much either considering it is the worst in the league at 2.9 yards a rush.  We all knew losing David Johnson would hurt but not THIS much.  The Cardinals are so desperate they traded for washed up Adrian Peterson.  This is a complete desperation move as Peterson does not fit the Cardinals mold of a back who can catch passes and line up as a wide out so maybe they are looking to go more smash-mouth.  Maybe?  If that’s so, Peterson’s average the last year and a half is somewhere around 3 yards a carry so don’t expect much.  The Tampa Bay Bucs have the talent on both sides of the ball.  There really should be no excuse. I don’t even care that they have to fly from Florida to Arizona.  I’m sure me and my friends from New York could fly out to Arizona on Saturday night and hang about 30 on this Cardinals team.

The Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers -2.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Denver Broncos 2015 Preview

When Johny Elway brought Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos in 2012, the goal was clear:  win a Super Bowl.   Unfortunately for Elway and the Broncos, it’s been three seasons of success-turned-heartbreak.  In 2012, the Broncos made the playoffs but lost in double over-time to the eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Baltimore Ravens.   In 2013, Peyton Manning and his offense were thoroughly embarrassed in the Super Bowl by the Seattle Seahawks, and last year, Peyton lost to his former team the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round of the playoffs.

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For all of his accolades, Peyton Manning can’t seem to shake his post-season let downs.   Last season was scary for Manning supporters though.  It seemed by mid season, Manning could not get much power behind his throws.  He was uncharacteristically over throwing receivers and short arming out-routes.   Peyton is thirty-nine years old and Father Time has been more than generous to him for the last three years, so seeing him breakdown a bit now should be expected.  It’s doubtful he’ll be a hindrance to this offense in any way – but he shouldn’t be expected to put up astronomic numbers this year either.

A big reason Manning won’t be putting up video-game-like numbers is because the offensive philosophy is expected to change.  With new head coach Gary Kubiak, the Broncos will be focused on the run more than Peyton Manning has been used to.  Running back C.J. Anderson started as number three on the depth chart and ended up making the most of his opportunity when injuries fell on Ronnie Hillman and Montee Ball.  Ball looked pretty bad when he had his opportunities and will at most be an emergency back; Hillman though played well when he started and was a big threat in the screen-pass game.   Anderson is expected to be the starter, but in this heavy run based offense, Hillman will definitely get his touches as well, which is a good thing for Denver’s offense.

The offensive line will be leaned on heavily in Denver to establish this running attack and to preserve the health of their captain, Peyton Manning.  The problem here is that, there is a lot of youth.  Tackle Ryan Clady and right guard Louis Vasquez (last year played right tackle) are the steady part of this unit but they will be playing alongside some unexperienced  youth.  The Broncos took Florida center Max Garcia in the fourth-round of this year’s draft and in the second-round they drafted Ty Sambrailo, a tackle out of Colorado State.  Sambrailo is a quick lineman, who plays with a chip on his shoulder.  Peyton Manning is the type that will work with his young offensive linemen to the point of exhaustion, but he is also an impatient man. . . Sambrailo will have to learn quickly.

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Tight end Julius Thomas fled Denver in free agency, making way for veteran Owen Daniels.  Daniels has shown flashes of being a tight end with good hands, but not much in the “big play” department that a healthy Thomas provided for this team.  Demaryius Thomas was given the contract he wanted in the off-season; but will that decision truly be one he’ll want in the long run?   Manning’s time table is limited and with Kubiak in town, the focus will be taken off of the aerial attack, Thomas will see lesser looks this year but he’s a game-changer.  He is the best in the NFL on wide receiver screens and causes headaches for even the best corner backs in the league.  Opposing defenses will want to try to double cover Thomas, but they are handcuffed by the fact that Emmanuel Sanders had his best season last year and at times looked like the better wide out.  Sanders developed a chemistry early with Peyton Manning, who also showed confidence in the wide out.

The Broncos defensive linemen depth is questionable but now in a 3-4 defensive scheme, defensive end Derek Wolfe should feel more at home.  Nose tackle is still a question going into this season and in a 3-4 base, that should be a spot where there are no questions. . .  Luckily, the depth at linebacker should help this line out tremendously.  Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan are tackling machines with good lateral movement.  Demarcus Ware and Von Miller will be blitzing a lot more this year as will rookie Shane Ray.  A lot of folks were high on Shane Ray, coming out of Missouri but there were too many times that Ray showed a lack of strength when he went face to face with tackles, he also lacks patience and tries doing too much, ultimately taking him out of plays.  Ray may be better served strictly as a pass rusher in certain situations because he will need more time to be out there on three straight downs.

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The secondary is solid on Denver.  Safety T.J. Ward is given a lot of flexibility.  His versatility allows him to drop back into zone or play the role of an extra linebacker.  Corner back Aquib Talib is a big physical corner who knocks a lot of passes down.  Talib is also a corner who likes to blitz and is not shy when it comes to putting a big hit on a running back.  Chris Harris Jr. is a steady corner, but might have to watch for second-year player Bradley Roby out of Ohio State on the depth chart.  Roby gained confidence as the season went along last year and has a higher ceiling than Harris.

The Broncos enter the  2015 season knowing that this is more than likely the last chance to win with Peyton Manning.  More importantly Manning knows this is his last chance.  It will be tough though – the Broncos are not that strong in the trenches and the change in offensive philosophy needs to be accepted quickly by all parties involved.  Luckily for them, this division isn’t packed with powerhouse squads, so barely being over .500 should be expected and it should do the trick to win the division.

Predicted Record: 9-7

Predicted Pro Bowlers: T.J. Ward, Von Miller, Emmanuel Sanders, Ronnie Hillman

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

The Dez and Demaryius Difference

Today two wide receivers signed contracts at almost the same exact time.  Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys ended their stand-off with a five year, seventy million dollar contract (of which forty five million is reportedly guaranteed).  This comes about with Dez continually saying that he would sit out until a contract was agreed upon.   Minutes after this signing,  reports came out that the Denver Broncos saddled up with their star receiver Demaryius Thomas for the same numbers except his guaranteed dollars came at about forty three and half million dollars.

They both came into the league in 2010 but it’s their last three seasons that have put them amongst the best wide receivers in the NFL.  Demaryius has had the luxury of being in a pass happy Peyton Manning offense so his yardage numbers noticeably bigger than Bryant’s.

Last Three Seasons:

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Demaryius Thomas

Year                    GS         GP      REC       Yards             AVG.     Long   TD

2012 16 16 94 1,434 15.3 71 10
2013 16 16 92 1,430 15.5 78 14
2014 16 16 111 1,619 14.9 86 11

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Dez Bryant

Year                   GS             GP         REC     Yards     AVG.       Long    TD

2012   14 16 92 1,382 15.0 85 12
2013 16 16 93 1,233 13.3 79 13
2014 16 16 88 1,320 15.0 68 16

 

For Dallas, this should not have taken as long as it did.   Dallas has a franchise quarterback in Tony Romo, who last year put up MVP caliber numbers while returning from back surgery.  Romo is in good hands behind one of the best offensive lines in football, who gives him time to find receivers and allows those receivers to get open on long-deep-routes.  The Cowboys decided to not give a long term contract to their workhorse running back Demarco Murray, so it only made sense to give the long term deal to Bryant.  In 2010 the Cowboys moved up three spots in the first round to draft the talented wide-out who came with “character issues.”

For the Cowboys not to extend their first round draft choice, he would have had to be an all out bust.   Dez Bryant has been the number one wide receiver option they hoped he’d become so making a fuss and not meeting him with the numbers he wanted initially didn’t make much sense.

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For the Broncos, it’s a little different.  Yes, Demaryius is just like Dez in the sense he was drafted in the first and has possibly exceeded even the loftiest of expectations that were set for him, but there is the elephant in the room that must be discussed.  That elephant, is Peyton Manning.  We saw a deterioration of sorts last year with the Broncos quarterback.  Maybe some of us are pulling the trigger to quickly on what has been a fantastic career but at some point he is going to become too old to play football.  Let’s not forget Peyton is one good hit away from never playing the game again and last year his arm seemed to have the fluid motion of a wet noodle.  Sure Demaryius has looked great – when Manning has looked great – but how will he fare when Manning’s time is up? That time could very well be at some point this year or early next season.

Also keep in mind for Denver that they’ve hired Gary Kubiak to be head coach and Kubiak is very much one of those “control the clock” kind of coaches.   Running the ball will take over because 1) that’s how Kubiak likes to coach and 2) the Broncos are looking for ways to not exhaust Manning’s arm during the season.   This can cause Thomas to either get frustrated and want to leave, or it may cause the Broncos to realize they are over-paying for a position that isn’t as important in this offense.

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These two wide receivers will be compared to each for the rest of their careers and this day in particular is a big one for their respective franchises.   The winner of this day is the Dallas Cowboys though, because of the talent that is Dez Bryant and how the Cowboys’ offensive situation seems more appealing moving forward.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio