It was a unique football weekend in the Walker household. Usually, I’m spending approximately 10-hour days inside NFL stadiums on Sundays during the fall and winter. But a Thursday night game involving the Miami Dolphins provided an opportunity to stay home and relax.
So I took the opportunity to sit in front of the television and closely watch the Denver Broncos face the St. Louis Rams. I was expecting a ho-hum game where the Broncos would win easily. Instead, my curiosity increased as Denver showed plenty of issues and potential weaknesses.
Before Sunday, next week’s game was considered an automatic loss for the Dolphins. Now, I'm not so sure.
Here are some notes on the Broncos after studying their game on Sunday:
Denver’s offensive line is struggling, which bodes well for Miami. Peyton Manning rushed and forced an unusual amount of throws as St. Louis kept up the pressure. Similarly, Miami’s defensive line is very talented and has a chance to beat up Denver’s line. This could be the biggest key to the game.
Manning also looked uncomfortable with the amount of injuries on offense. Tight end Julius Thomas (ankle), receiver Emmanuel Sanders (concussion) and running back Montee Ball (groin) all got injured Sunday. By the second half, Manning was playing with fewer weapons and wasn’t in sync with his backups. I was shocked with the amount of dropped balls and off throws. A week of practice can help with timing, but it won’t fix the drop-off in talent.
The Dolphins’ offense can take advantage of Denver’s overaggressiveness on defense. St. Louis did a good job of using cutback runs and draw plays to gain additional yards. It also hit a couple deep passes to receiver Kenny Britt. The Broncos are accustomed to playing with leads, which allows the defense to take chances. But when they are trailing, it doesn’t work out as well.
Pro Bowl defensive end Von Miller lines up over the left and right tackle to get the matchups they like. That means Miller will see time against Miami left tackle Ja'Wuan James and inconsistent right tackle Dallas Thomas. The biggest concern is Thomas, who allowed 2.5 sacks to Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams last week.
You have to wonder if Miami is catching the Broncos at the right time. The Dolphins are winners of five of their last seven games. Meanwhile, the Broncos have lost two of three. This game certainly isn't the lock for Denver that it once was.