Cleat Geeks

Broncos Hit The Road

 

The Broncos face their first road test of the season on Sunday as they travel to battle the Baltimore Ravens (1-1). The Broncos started the season 2-0, squeaking out a 27-24 win over the Seahawks in Week 1 and a 20-19 win over the division rival Raiders in Week 2. While it’s nice to be 2-0, the wins were hardly impressive.

In fact, on Sunday, the Broncos’ offense struggled to do anything in the first half. The Raiders built a 12-0 lead thanks to a bend but don’t break approach from the defense. And while the Broncos accounted for six sacks against Russell Wilson in Week 1, they mustered just a single sack against Derek Carr in Week 2 while allowing him to complete 29-of-32 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown.

But they made the plays they needed to when it mattered, including a blocked extra point by Shaq Barrett in the first half that ended up being the difference in the game. And now they face a Ravens’ team that was barely tested in their home opener and looked sloppy in a divisional loss to the Bengals last Thursday night. Flacco was sacked four times and committed three turnovers against the Bengals, something that the Broncos’ defense must seek to replicate if the team wants to win Sunday.

The Ravens will have had 10 days to prepare for the game, and get to return home, but their defense was hardly imposing in Week 2, surrendering four touchdowns to Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Case Keenum has started slowly, tossing three TDs against four INTs in two games (and adding one rushing), but his came could have looked much different. He had two touchdown passes reversed by officials Sunday, including a beautiful throw to Courtland Sutton that appeared to have been a missed call on replay. If he can have better luck, and avoid costly mistakes, Keenum can take the Broncos’ offense to the next level.

Much of that also depends on Demaryius Thomas, who struggled mightily in Week 2. He led the team with 11 targets, but grabbed just five of them for 18 yards, dropping a number of passes and eliciting boos from the home crowd in the fourth quarter. He can play better, and must if the Broncos are going to get their first road win of the season.

On the flip side, Emmanuel Sanders has started red hot. He caught 10 passes for 135 yards in Week 1 and grabbed all four of his targets for 96 yards in Week 2. He appears to have found some good chemistry with Keenum, and appears to be the Broncos’ go-to man for big plays. Also stepping up big is undrafted rookie free agent Phillip Lindsay, who ran for 107 yards on 14 carries. He leads the team with 178 yards rushing in two games, and has the third highest rushing total of any running back in the NFL through two weeks.

Fantasy Impact

Keenum hasn’t been incredible, but he’s produced decent numbers. He is QB 18 through two games, and is worthy of consideration in deep and two QB leagues, especially considering this week’s match-up. On the ground, I’m staying away from rookie Royce Freeman. He has just 99 yards in two games despite plenty of work, and is really only a value if he can find the end zone. Considering the Bengals had their best success throwing, that seems less likely. And the way Lindsay has played, I expect Freeman to cede work unless the Broncos build a lead. Lindsay is currently RB14 in PPR and should be in your lineup.

Image result for emmanuel sanders 2018

Among receivers, Sanders is a must start. As for the rest, I think it depends on your options. I expect Thomas to be better than he was a week ago, and he and Sutton should get some opportunities in the Red Zone. But I want to see them bounce back a bit before I feel good playing them. At tight end, I liked what I saw from Jake Butt, who caught four of six targets in Week 2 for 48 yards. I expect the Broncos to keep getting him involved, and he could be an upside play in deeper leagues in a position that’s kind of a toss up.

Prediction

The Broncos are 2-0 but haven’t looked dominant. Yet I think they’ve done some good things, and I think they can match up well with the Ravens. Baltimore started hot by routing the Bills at home, but they showed their weaknesses in that Thursday night game against the Bengals. I think the Broncos will move to 3-0 with another close win.

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