Can Bills’ Defense Corral Peyton Manning and the Broncos?
By William Lewis
The Buffalo Bills have really done a nice job lately. They were basically snowed out of their own city, and even though their practice schedule was severely upset, they still came through with a 38-3 romp over the New York Jets, then followed that with a sterling defensive effort in beating Cleveland 26-10. With a record of 7-5, they are in the middle of the playoff race. On Sunday their stop unit will face a big challenge, however, as they take on the Denver Broncos in NFL betting action that takes place at 4:05 PM ET at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
Last week Buffalo was able to snuff out Cleveland quarterback Brian Hoyer, who eventually gave way to rookie Johnny Manziel. In fact, they held the Browns to just 17 total yards on their first five possessions. But the Broncos were also very solid on defense in their last game against Kansas City, limiting the Chiefs to 151 total yards in the game.
The Broncos are 9-3 straight-up, and 6-6 ATS. They lead the San Diego Chargers by one-game in the AFC West, and they are also very much alive to have the home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. As mentioned, Buffalo is 7-5 straight-up, and they are also 6-6 against the football pointspread. They are tied with four other AFC teams in the wild-card picture.
Buffalo has some really outstanding metrics on defense. They are the best the NFL in terms of points allowed per drive, and are #2 in yards allowed per drive. However, in the latter category they are right behind the Broncos. And whenever you go up against Peyton Manning, you are in for a very unusual challenge.
Let’s offer some perspective for moment, for the benefit of Pinnacle patrons. Manning, who has completed 67% of his passes with 36 touchdowns, has been sacked only 13 times. That’s the kind of thing that might serve to mitigate the effect of Buffalo’s pass rush, which leads the league with 48 sacks. In fact, if NFL bettors should be expecting any pass rush to have a real effect, perhaps its Denver’s sack brigade, led by Von Miller (11 sacks) and DeMarcus Ware (10 sacks). We say that because Kyle Orton, who had two of the best years of his career when he was Denver starting quarterback, does not get the same level of protection as his counterpart.
Orton and the Bills had better get Sammy Watkins loose, as he has caught only four passes in the last four games. That’s because Denver is pretty tough against the run, allowing only 3.4 yards per carry. And meanwhile, the Broncos seem to have caught some lightning in a bottle with CJ Anderson, who has rushed for 167 and 168 yards in the last two games. The bottom line here might be that Buffalo is unable to trade points with Denver, which has outgained its opponents by an astounding 1.4 yards per play.