Week 13: Tampa Bay Buccaneers At Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackJosh Freeman has had a sensational season. After a miserable year in 2011, he has thrown the ball with velocity, accuracy and a quick release. Freeman has shown good judgment and has avoided throwing the ball into double-coverage. Freeman can buy time with his speed and athleticism. He did miss some open receivers in the Bucs’ Week 12 loss to the Falcons.Peyton Manning was not overly impressive against the Chiefs in Week 12 but he brought the Broncos their sixth consecutive win. Manning reads defenses expertly, puts the ball in a position where his receivers can catch the ball and defensive backs can’t and he has enough velocity on the ball after struggling in that area early in the season.
- OffenseDoug Martin means business every time he steps onto the field. If opponents try to arm tackle him, he is going to bust through those tackles and make big plays. The reason the Bucs have turned things around is largely due to the outstanding production of Vincent Jackson, who has caught 47-959-7 this season. Jackson used to torment the Denver defensive backs when he played for the Chargers.Knowshon Moreno stepped in for Willis McGahee and ran for 85 yards in his absence. Demaryius Thomas has become an excellent deep threat (61-1,015-6) and a much more consistent receiver with Manning at quarterback. Eric Decker can make possession catches and go downfield, while Brandon Stokley is Manning’s security blanket.
- DefenseThe Bucs have one of the most vulnerable pass defenses in the league and they will have a tough time preventing Thomas from making one or two big catches. Outside linebacker Lavonte David is an honest football player who has given head coach Greg Schiano a team-high 98 tackles.Linebacker Von Miller continues to dominate as a pass rusher. He is leading Denver’s defense with 14 sacks. Outside linebacker Wesley Woodyard leads the team in tackles with 97 tackles and he also has four sacks. Cornerback Champ Bailey will probably have to cover Jackson and that could be a very challenging matchup.
- Special TeamsConnor Barth has a strong leg and has made 4-of-7 attempts from 50 yards and beyond. His range could reach 60 yards in Denver. Barth has made 20-of-25 field goal attempts. Michael Koenen has good but not great leg strength. He is averaging 44.9 yards per punt.The Broncos have gotten a significant advantage from their special teams this season. Trindon Holliday is a very fast returner who has returned both a punt and a kickoff for a touchdown this season. Placekicker Matt Prater has made16-of-20 field goal attempts this season, including 3-of-4 from 50 yards and beyond.
The Broncos did not play their best game last week, but they played well enough to get a road win over the lowly Chiefs. If they are going to push their winning streak to seven games, they are going to have to play much better. Look for Manning to have a sharp effort and the defense to put pressure on Freeman and the Broncos.