NFL Picks Week 11: How the Denver Broncos Will Beat the New York Jets Thursday
They managed to beat the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday while only completing two passes all afternoon.
They gained 244 yards on the ground, a week after rushing for 289 against the Oakland Raiders.
Over the last five weeks, the Broncos have led the NFL in rushing yards and will continue to do so in Week 11.
What needs to happen, though it may not, is an improved passing game.
Tebow looked masterful at passing on Sunday—for one play.
Otherwise, Denver abandoned the pass almost entirely in favor of the run. Denver called 55 running plays to only eight passes.
Will the read-option remain successful for another week against a defense that's certainly stronger than that of the Chiefs?
I think it will with some adjustments. Here is how the Denver Broncos will defeat the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football.
The Pass Needs a Role in This Option Offense
Although the Broncos did not require a big aerial game against a Chiefs defense that allowed plenty of gains on the ground, they will need more passing against the Jets.
The New England Patriots displayed Sunday night that the passing game, even with Darrelle Revis on the field, can be very effective against a tough Jets defense.
What New England did best is utilize its tight ends.
Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski had great games Sunday.
Revis was tied up covering the league's leading receiver, Wes Welker, leaving the tight ends to pick up production.
Who on Denver's offense will Revis need to cover Thursday?
There's no big time receiver anymore on the Broncos' roster. There's no passing game to really speak of at this point.
However, with a zone-read option offense, the Broncos can still put their better, bigger catchers to good use.
If the Broncos' offense manages to run effectively against the Jets, they can slowly put Revis to sleep in the defensive backfield until it's time to take advantage.
At that point, Tebow can throw some balls to Julius Thomas and Daniel Fells underneath.
Show Rex Ryan and the Jets What Ground and Pound Really Means
The New York Jets currently rank 24th in the league in rushing yards per game and currently average 98.1 yards on the ground each week.
The Denver Broncos are second with 158.2 yards per game. Over the last five games, Denver has averaged 221 yards per game.
For a team that advertises a "Ground and Pound" offense week in and week out, the Jets sure don't run the ball well.
They'll learn quite a bit Thursday, as the Broncos will surely put down another 200 yards against the 15th-ranked rush defense in the league via the run, option, reverse and whatever else offensive coordinator Mike McCoy decides to throw the Jets' way.
Before Week 10, the Chiefs were ranked 19th against the run—they now sit at 26th.
After Week 11, the Jets should be somewhere around 20th.
Until a team shows Denver an ability to shut down their running game, they will continue to use it. Especially considering Tebow does not currently possess the skills necessary to pass effectively for an entire game.
The key factor for Denver's success Thursday night will be whether or not Willis McGahee returns to the field after suffering a hamstring injury Sunday afternoon.
At this point, little is known about McGahee's injury. He stated afterwards that he "could have returned in an emergency situation."
This certainly speaks well to the possibility of McGahee anchoring Denver's offense Thursday.
Continuing Defensive Dominance
The Denver Broncos' defense is on one heck of a roll going into Week 11.
On a short week, with only three days of rest before this Thursday's game, the defense will need to be very conditioned and ready to take on an offense that's displayed some serious playmaking ability in previous weeks.
The Jets' offense has been off and on in 2011.
Some days, the Jets look downright scary with Mark Sanchez, then the next they look hapless and unable to control the ball.
It's difficult to know which Jets offense will come to play Thursday, but it's safe to assume it won't be an easy night for the Broncos' defense.
The last weeks have featured less-than-effective offenses for Denver to play against.
They beat the Raiders, who were being led by Carson Palmer in his first start.
They beat the Chiefs in what might be Matt Cassel's last game in Kansas City—or anywhere else for that matter—this year.
Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, and D.J. Williams came out swinging against the Chiefs, as they made up for the absence of leading tackler Wesley Woodyard.
This defensive unit can come up with their biggest win of the season if they can keep Sanchez and his receivers in the dirt Thursday night.
Let Mistakes and Turnovers Die with Orton'S Offense
Since Tebow took over as the starting quarterback, there's been one very significant change for Denver other than the win-loss record.
The Broncos are controlling the ball well and keeping it in their hands.
One factor of Kyle Orton's offense that consistently added to his critics' fire and that of Tebow's supporters was the fact Denver could not manage to keep from giving away the football.
Whether it was a tipped ball that landed in a defender's arms, a fumble that was a result of a wet and rainy night or a flat-out blown play resulting in a pick six, Orton and company were typical of turnovers.
McGahee, Moreno and others have changed their ways since Tebow's ascension through disciplined ball control and very low risk play.
When the ball only leaves the ground eight to 10 times a game, the chances of an interception are greatly diminished.
The only thing to practice, then, is holding onto the ball with two hands and keeping the opponents' offense on the sidelines.
Turnovers happen to even the best teams in the league, but Denver needs to avoid them in order to be considered one of the best by the end of this season.
It's time for a prediction.
Broncos Win 3 Straight
If Denver can manage to do everything their game plan requires of them, they can come away with a win Thursday night.
If they were playing one of the more elite teams on a short week, I wouldn't be so quick to pick Denver for the upset.
But the Jets are not an elite team and will prove it in Denver.
Ball control, efficient running and smart yet deceptive play-calling will ensure a victory for Tebow and company—their third straight in longer than I can remember.
Denver Broncos - 27 New York Jets - 17