5 Bold Predictions for Denver Broncos' Week 12 Matchup
The Dolphins are a team on the rise, fresh off of a big win over the Buffalo Bills.
The Broncos will have their hands full with Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who has thrown 17 touchdowns on the season. On top of that, Denver will have to deal with the No. 2 overall defense in the league.
Still licking their wounds after a 22-7 loss to the Rams, the Broncos need to get things back on track this week. They trail New England for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, and the Kansas City Chiefs are hot on their heels in the race for the AFC West.
That makes this game against Miami extremely important. Here are five bold predictions for the Broncos' Week 12 matchup.
Cody Latimer Finally Makes an Impact
The Broncos need to realize that it's time to pull out all of the stops. Activating Cody Latimer is one way to do that.
Latimer showed flashes of being great in preseason play, but Denver has yet to utilize him in a game that counts. That will change on Sunday.
After losing two of their top receiving threats last week in Emmanuel Sanders and Julius Thomas, the Broncos had problems. A team known for their strong receiving corps suddenly became very limited.
The Broncos shouldn't be relying on guys like Jacob Tamme and Andre Caldwell to play extended time and make big plays. Instead, they should turn to the player they selected in the second round of this year's draft.
Denver has made Latimer inactive for nearly every game this season. It's time to reverse that trend and give Peyton Manning another big, young target to throw the ball to.
There isn't much film for teams to look at and prepare for, so it would be a perfect time to unveil the rookie and hopefully gain a big boost because of it.
The Team Will Sign Richie Incognito—and Soon
This is a transaction that needs to be made. In fact, if the Broncos didn't happen to be playing Richie Incognito's former team this week, it might have already happened.
Despite the backlash the Broncos might receive for bringing in the man who was at the center of last year's bullying scandal in Miami, the move makes a lot of sense from a football perspective.
The team needs someone to help them establish a more physical mentality. They need a player who is not going to be pushed around like the offensive linemen were in Week 11 against St. Louis.
With each hit Peyton takes it looks increasing likely that Richie Incognito gets a call from Elway tomorrow morning. Rams gettin after it— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) November 16, 2014
Incognito is the type of player who will punch you in the mouth and let you know you're in for a 60-minute fight when you go up against him. No one in Denver does that now.
If you don't like Incognito, that's fine. You don't have to like him. But the team needs a player with his mentality, and they're not going to find anyone better right now.
Miami Is Held Without a Sack
Only two teams in the NFL—Buffalo and Philadelphia—have more than the 30 sacks Miami has registered this season. That could spell trouble for the Broncos, a team that seems to be wilting along the offensive line.
The Broncos will have to keep a close eye on defensive ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon, who have 14 sacks between them.
But knowing that Miami will be planning to bring as much pressure as possible after watching the film from the Rams game, the Broncos will install a game plan that negates their pass rush.
Peyton Manning will use short passes and checkdowns to move the ball initially, and Adam Gase will dial up a run play much more than the nine times he did against St. Louis.
The offensive line still needs help, but Denver will escape this game without yielding a single sack.
Denver Gets Big Production out of Running Backs
Denver has to know it needs to get the running game going if it intends to make a strong push come playoff time. That's going to be even harder to do with injuries to their top two running backs.
While Ronnie Hillman is sidelined with a foot injury, Montee Ball will miss up to three weeks after re-aggravating the groin injury that kept him out five games, as reported by Mike Klis of The Denver Post.
So where are the Broncos going to get the production from?
C.J. Anderson has filled in nicely over the course of the last pwo games, not only as a runner but also as a receiver. Against St. Louis, Anderson caught eight passes for 86 yard,s and he was open constantly out of the backfield, but Peyton Manning chose to take deeper shots down the field.
If the Dolphins give up the checkdown the way St. Louis did, Manning needs to take it every time. As evidenced by the 51-yard touchdown he scored on a short pass in Week 10 against Oakland, Anderson can make plays with the ball in his hands.
But the Broncos also need to see what their young rookies can add to the mix. Juwan Thompson should see an increase in snaps in this game, and it might even be a good idea to insert Kapri Bibbs into the lineup.
The Broncos need a spark in the running game, and since they'll be without Hillman and Ball, they need to turn elsewhere.
As for a bold prediction, Denver will look to take the pressure off of Manning in this game. In turn, they will run for over 100 yards as a team, and running backs will account for 12 receptions out of the backfield.
Brandon McManus Makes Two 50-Yard Field Goals
After Brandon McManus clanged a 41-yard field goal off the upright in Week 9 against New England, the Broncos chose not to use him from over 50 yards later in that game.
But the coaching staff's unwillingness to call upon him from over 50 yards has carried over since that game, and it's becoming a problem.
Last week against St. Louis, the fact that they didn't feel McManus should be given a shot from 55 yards in a dome was nothing short of ridiculous. Points could have meant a big momentum swing in that game.
The Broncos have been left to go for it on fourth down several times since then, turning the ball over on downs nearly every time.
If McManus was the guy the team chose in favor of Matt Prater, a guy who could routinely make 50-yard field goals, than the coaching staff needs to show more faith in McManus.
On Sunday, they will.
Much like the running game needs a spark, so does the kicking game. If this game was in Miami, it might not be the right time to try to boost McManus' confidence. But in the thin air of Sports Authority Field in Denver, it is.
McManus won't just make one kick from over 50 yards on Sunday, he'll convert two.