Gut Reaction: Week 17 - Broncos @ Raiders

Most points in a season? Check.

Most passing yards in a season? Check.

Best team in football? We'll see.

It's playoff time.  Everyone goes bare chested and bare knuckles. And we all know what happened to the Broncos last year in the same set of circumstances.

The good news is that last year means not one damn thing; the Broncos are peaking at the exact right time.

Peyton Manning also isn't completely bare this time around. He's had a whole season to get used to the the glove.

The Positives

  1. What can be said about Peyton Manning that hasn’t already been said? At this point, I can only think of one thing, and that’s how lucky Colts fans had it for more than a decade. With Manning at quarterback, division titles are as easy as extra points, despite how much John Fox wants to talk about doing the little things right each week. In truth, it’s the big things that matter most. And there’s nothing bigger than who is playing quarterback.
  2. Danny Trevathan, the most underrated member of the Broncos defense, had another good day flying to the football. He is a large reason why the quarterback scramble isn’t a viable option against the Broncos.
  3. You’ve got to like how the Broncos attacked the Raiders on the first drive of the game by lining up Knowshon Moreno outside. Denver will take Moreno against a linebacker any day. They also did what they typically do when they get a two high-safety look—that is, they smash it down the other team’s throat.
  4. Manny Ramirez should have been more than an alternate for the Pro Bowl. Today he played like it yet again. His combo blocks are like perfectly orchestrated dance steps.
  5. Props to the rest of the line too for their work. I’ve not singled out Chris Clark and Orlando Franklin as much as I should, but it’s only because Louis Vasquez and Ramirez have played like bulldozers.
  6. Just as I was trying to tell Doug I’d probably take Marvin Harrison (in his prime) over Demaryius Thomas, Thomas goes and makes me look like an idiot.
  7. The Raiders aren’t exactly a potent offense (they haven’t had a winning record since 2002), but Sly Williams, Malik Jackson, Terrence Knighton, and even Robert Ayers all looked like they are ready to stop any running game. Williams in particular, is double-gapping like a champ; he’s stacking and shedding like a beast.
  8. Eric Decker quietly kicked ass yet again, but it was his blocking that allowed the Broncos some serious YAC. His one drop was due to a blatant facemask the refs missed.
  9. Some things never change, meaning, of course, that the Raiders are their own worst enemy. It’s not as if the Raiders stood much of a chance in this game anyway, but fumbling the snap ensures your destruction.
  10. Brock Osweiler has unequivocally improved—his footwork, his decisiveness, his ability to get the ball out quickly. There was little panic even as the pocket broke down. Without a large body of work with which to judge, however, it’s hard to say for sure.

The Negatives

  1. It doesn’t matter the score, there is no excuse for getting a punt blocked.
  2. It’s sad to hear the Coliseum so quiet. I almost felt bad for Raiders fans, but then I remembered, they weren’t being quiet. They were just coming down from their speedballs.
  3. Since I praised Osweiler earlier, I should point out that he held onto the ball for a little longer than I liked on several passes.
  4. Given that the score got out of hand early, we still don’t know how Jack Del Rio is going to generate pressure without Von Miller. He did blitz a few times today, so he’s probably not done.
  5. Duke Ihenacho may have suffered a concussion, so stay tuned.
  6. The only thing that scares me about the Broncos entering the playoffs is Britton Colquitt and field position.
  7. For my money, Wesley Woodyard is a better option than Paris Lenon. Lenon had trouble in the second half getting through blocks.
  8. For those inclined to proceed with caution: the Broncos’ three losses this year came to teams (New England, Indianapolis, and San Diego) currently in the playoffs. Still, the idea of Belichick and Brady coming to Denver fills me with glee.
  9. Give the Raiders credit for their onside kick strategy, which caught the Broncos off guard not once, but twice.
  10. Jacob Tamme’s one-handed grab was a legit catch, I don’t care what the guy in the booth says.

The Who The Heck Knows

  1. Just remember, the Broncos did all this damage without Wes Welker, who still hasn’t technically been cleared to play.
  2. Those 60 receptions from Knowshon Moreno this year went largely went unnoticed.
  3. Just a reminder: Charles Woodson could have been a Bronco this year. Hope the money was worth it. I shouldn’t blast Woodson too much, though. He was the only Raider with double-digit tackles.
  4. If you can believe it, the Chargers snuck into the playoffs by beating the Chiefs' second stringers in overtime. Good work, San Diego. Now, prepare to die.
  5. Leaving the issue of his salary aside, Matt Prater has done everything the Broncos have asked this year.
  6. According to John Fox in his pregame comments on 850 KOA, one of the reasons the Broncos generally start slow is that they are feeling the defense out and seeing how they are going to play Petyon Manning that particular week. Then they make the required adjustments.
  7. For examples of role players playing their part well, look no further than Andre Caldwell. I only wished that I could have praised his play more often.
  8. The same can be said for David Bruton, who continues to be one of the best special teams players in all of football.
  9. I hope Shaun Phillips has some more sacks left in his body for the playoffs. The Broncos may outscore everyone, but if they don’t, someone on the defense not named Von Miller is going to have to come up big.
  10. If you didn't know, Kyle Orton is playing in a big game tonight and my money's on the Eagles.

I’m glad we had this talk.  Now, vaya con Dios, Brah.

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