As the season rolls on into the third week, so does our weekly post, “Behind Enemy Lines.” This week, the Oakland Raiders travel to Denver, Colorado, to take on the Denver Broncos. Kim Constantinesco of Predominantly Orange reached out and asked me five questions. Kim is the Senior Editor of Predominantly Orange, and her articles have been featured on other sites such as NFL.com, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, and the New York times. I was honored to be interviewed by her. I also had the pleasure to ask her a few questions about her team, the Denver Broncos. The questions are as follows:
JBB- What is the biggest worry facing the Denver Broncos in 2013? Is it an injured offensive line or the possibility of letting all the hype get to them?
PO- I think the biggest worry is the consistency of the run game at this point. The Broncos had just 65 rushing yards in week one, but then put up 107 yards and two touchdowns in week two. We have Knowshon Moreno starting, but our two young backs, Montee Ball and Ronnie Hillman, have had trouble holding onto the ball throughout preseason and into the early part of the regular season.
While the big news of the week for the Broncos was the loss of starting tackle Ryan Clady, I’m not too concerned with that at this point. Chris Clark replaces him, and has backed him up for the past two seasons. Clark saw a lot of action in camp and in preseason as Clady was recovering from his shoulder surgery, so Clark clearly knows the program. Also, Manning does a lot to protect himself in the pocket. He gets the ball out quickly and keeps defenses guessing, which slows even the best of pass rushers. Finally, Denver doesn’t play against any significant pass rushers with the exception of DeMarcus Ware in Dallas and twice against the Chiefs’ Tamba Hali. The offensive line shouldn’t be an issue assuming everyone else stays healthy.
JBB- Through two games, Peyton Manning looks unstoppable, and he could very well break some long-standing records. Do you think teams will catch on to what he is doing, or will we watch the Broncos waltz into the playoffs?
PO- If any other quarterback was to have a two-game streak like this (9 touchdowns, 0 interceptions), I would tell you that defenses would catch on. However, Manning is like Einstein in a room full of preschoolers. His brain, not his arm, is his greatest asset. He’s also got some incredible targets in Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker, Eric Decker, and Julius Thomas. At times, it looks like they’re playing 13 on 11. With that, I believe the Broncos take the AFC West.
JBB- What will the Broncos have to do in order to keep Manning upright against one of the 2013 top ranked pass rushes?
PO- Like I said before, with his quick decision-making and release, Manning protects himself in the pocket to a certain extent. I think the Broncos will have to get their rush game going early like they did against the Giants. That just opens things up later in the game. Additionally, the Broncos will have to go to a two-tight end set quite a bit more to take extra rushers. Expect them to use Moreno as a blocking back more than they have in other games.
JBB- Do you believe in Knowshon Moreno as the running back moving forward, or is he going to fizzle out again like the last couple of years?
PO- This is a make or break year for Moreno. He has the tools, he just needs to execute and play mistake-free football. He shows glimpses of brilliance, but he’s been hammered by the injury bug a few times. With the Broncos’ deep receiving threats, the game should really open up for Moreno this year.
JBB- What is your game prediction for Monday night?
PO- The Raiders get McFadden going but their offense can’t keep pace with the Broncos. Broncos – 36 Raiders – 17.
While I seriously respect Kim’s overview of the Broncos offensive line, I strongly disagree with her opinion about not facing a legitimate pass rusher other than Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware or KC’s Tamba Hali. Oakland Raiders DE-Lamarr Houston and DE-Jason Hunter may not be given as much hype as the other two, but they are going to be getting to Peyton Manning. With the middle of the Broncos offensive line dealing with DT-Vance Walker and NT-Pat Sims, Hunter and Houston will be one-on-one on the outside. They will win their matchups. Manning is very quick with his release, yes, and he is a professional who knows how to limit the impact in the pocket, but he won’t be able to avoid the Oakland Raiders defensive rush all night.
I would like to say thank you to Kim Constantinesco for allowing me to interview her about the upcoming game. If Just Blog Baby fans would like to read the interview that Kim conducted with me, check it out at www.predominantlyorange.com.