The Broncos (2-0) visit New Era Field next Sunday. Here are five things to know about them:
1. Last game: The Broncos took care of the Cowboys at home in Week Two, limiting Ezekiel Elliot to 8 rushing yards on nine carries in a 42-17 win (box score). The game featured an hour weather delay in the first quarter, but that didn’t slow down the Broncos offense as running back C.J. Anderson and receiver Emmanuel Sanders each had a pair of touchdowns. Cornerback Aqib Talib put the cherry on top with a 103-yard interception return for a touchdown in the final minute. The only negative for the Broncos was that starting tackle Garett Bolles, their first-round pick, had to be carted off with a leg injury. He’ll reportedly have an MRI on Monday.
— NFL (@NFL) September 18, 2017
(It was 103 yards, don't listen to their Twitter.)
2. That defense is for real: If you thought Tyrod Taylor had trouble moving the ball against Carolina, just wait for next Sunday. The Broncos owned the NFL’s best defense in each of the last two seasons, according to the analytics website Football Outsiders. They ranked fourth last season in total yards allowed and first against the pass (185.8 yards per game), which is why the unit is nicknamed the “No Fly Zone,” thanks in large part to the cornerback duo of Talib and Chris Harris. Then there’s Von Miller, who ranks second in the NFL in sacks since entering the league in 2011, trailing only J.J. Watt. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips did leave for the Rams after coach Gary Kubiak retired from coaching this offseason, but the Broncos promoted from within, elevating secondary coach Joe Wood.
3. Pound the rock (if you can): One area the Bills will likely try to exploit against the Broncos is the ground game, which is their biggest weakness and the Bills’ biggest strength. The Broncos were 28th against the run last season, allowing 130.3 yards per game, although part of that could be because teams were so hesitant to throw against them (they were 18th in yards allowed per rush). The Broncos seemed to have tightened up their run D this season, allowing only 64 yards on the ground in their opener against the Chargers and 40 yards to the Cowboys, but LeSean McCoy will be itching to go after carrying 12 times for 9 yards Sunday.
4. They’re proof drafting a QB high doesn’t always work: Denver traded up from 31st to 26th overall in the 2016 draft to grab Memphis QB Paxton Lynch, but he hasn’t been able to take the job from Trevor Siemian, a former seventh-rounder out of Northwestern. Lynch started two games last year while Siemian was injured and posted a QB rating of 79.2. Siemian may not be a household name but he seems to have command of the offense, throwing for four touchdowns against Dallas. It’ll be interesting to see how he stacks up with Taylor as a pocket passer.
5. What’s the latest on Chad Kelly? The Broncos made Kelly Mr. Irrelevant in this year’s draft, selecting him with the 253rd and final pick. But a wrist surgery stemming from the injury Kelly suffered at his Pro Day has kept the St. Joe’s and Ole Miss product from making any sort of an impact. The Broncos placed Kelly on the reserve/non-football injury list at the end of training camp, ensuring he’ll miss at least the first six weeks of the season. It’s possible the team could move him to the injured reserve later in the season, essentially making this a redshirt season for the 23-year-old quarterback.