BILLS-BRONCOS MATCHUP WINNERS
Bills O-line vs. Von Miller
The premier pass-rusher in the NFL had a huge impact on the game. But he did not ruin the Bills' offense. Miller beat rookie left tackle Dion Dawkins for a sack on the first drive of the game. He beat right tackle Jordan Mills with a spin move and drew a holding penalty in the third quarter. He drew a chintzy holding call on Richie Incognito in the third quarter. He chased LeSean McCoy down for a 4-yard loss and made five other tackles. One sack and two QB hits by the All-Pro edge rusher constituted a victory for the Bills. Give Mills credit. Miller was over right tackle on most of the snaps, as usual, and Mills did not look silly. Give Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison credit, too. He used a lot of play-action fakes and bootlegs to keep Miller from pinning his ears back.
Bills CBs vs. Denver WRs
Broncos star wide receivers Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders were kept out of the end zone and did not dominate. They're dangerous. Thomas caught six passes for 98 yards. Sanders caught seven for 75. But Bills cornerbacks Tre'Davious White and E.J. Gaines made enough good plays to keep getting Denver off the field. White had four pass breakups, Gaines had three. Gaines made good coverage plays on second- and third-down situations to force Denver to settle for its first field goal. On a third-and-12 play in the third quarter, Gaines collisioned Thomas to force a check-down and another field goal. He got his interception via tight coverage on Bennie Fowler in the third quarter. White made a hustle play to force Sanders to drop what would have been a 44-yard pass. In the fourth quarter, he blanketed Sanders on a pivot-route on a third-and-5 play to force a punt.
Bills OC Rick Dennison vs. Denver OC Mike McCoy
In a battle of play-callers, the Bills' Dennison got the game to go the way he wanted. Denver's McCoy, however, can't feel good about the final statistics sheet. Denver entered the game with the No. 1 rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 159 yards a game. Granted, that total was inflated by the Broncos' blowout, run-out-the-clock win over Dallas last week. But Denver never gave its two quality runners – C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles – the chance to get in a groove. Denver called 25 passes and 10 runs in the first half and finished with 46 pass calls and just 23 runs. Trevor Siemian is the kind of QB who needs more help than that. Dennison, meanwhile, was not predictable with his first-down calls, preventing Denver from overplaying the run. Yet he didn't abandon the run, even though the Bills only averaged 2.3 yards a carry.