Chris Freud: We and the Broncos definitely did not see that one coming (column)
The top five
1. Kansas City (3-0) … Kareem Hunt is scary.
2. Atlanta (3-0) … It’s better to be lucky than good.
3. Patriots (2-1) … Why we don’t overreact in Week 1.
4. Cowboys (2-1) … Dak Prescott put on a show at Arizona.
5. Jaguars (2-1) … London Jaguars has a nice ring to it.
The bottom five
1. Cleveland (0-3) … Lost to Luck-less Colts.
2. Giants (0-3) … Their season is on the brink.
3. 49ers (0-3) … Season went over the brink in Week 1.
4. Bengals (0-3) … Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
5. Jets (1-2) … They won; they still stink.
Well, that was a kick in the pants.
We talked about the Broncos going on the road for the first time, but a 26-16 loss in Buffalo wasn’t the road trouble we anticipated. Trips to division rivals and future journeys to Philly, Washington and Miami were more on our mind.
On the other hand, it was a weird week in the NFL. Pittsburgh lost in Chicago. The Redskins beat the petunias out of the Raiders. The Saints went into Carolina and won. And the Jaguars looked like superpower in dusting the Ravens.
This is the NFL these days. There aren’t “super” teams upon which you can count to win every week like the Steelers of the ’70s, the Niners of the ’80s and the Cowboys of the ’90s.
Even the Patriots and the Packers needed miraculous finishes to win last week.
Let’s do the autopsy for the loss against the Bills.
• Yep, the unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on Von Miller was horse-pucky. It was actually pretty funny. As many commentators have notes both Miller and Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor were in on the joke.
Miller was standup guy in taking responsibility for the loss in taking the penalty. Don’t worry about that, Von. You’re worth your weight in gold.
This is an example of stuff happening on the road. If the game’s in Denver, then who knows if that’s called? Nonetheless, these are the kind of things a team has to overcome on the road.
• The bigger issue is that Week 3 was Trevor Siemian’s first stumble of the season. His two interceptions were not good ones and costly. This is going to happen. He’s going to have moments when he looks great (the Cowboys game) and have moments when he looks like essentially the second-year quarterback he actually is.
As we said at the beginning of the season Siemian doesn’t need to be Peyton Manning or John Elway. He just needs to be not net negative. It’s one game. We don’t need to freak out yet.
• The offensive line is a mixed bag. Siemian was sacked three times and hit six times. That’s a little much. Again, Siemian needs to be upright to do his job of being adequate.
The running game, though, was decent. Both Jamal Charles and C.J. Anderson ripped off big gains. They combined for 17 carries for 92 yards, a good average. Yeah, the Broncos didn’t win, but an effective rushing attack prevents teams bunching the line of scrimmage and crowding Siemian’s short-passing targets, the scenario that doomed the Broncos during the second half of last season.
• Sevens not threes … Brandon McManus was 3-for-3 with field goals which is nifty. But those were three trips deep into Bills’ territory — the Buffalo 21-, 18- and 11-yard lines. It’s unreasonable to expect a team to be 100 percent efficient in the red zone, but converting one of those three trips into a touchdown, makes it a one-score game.
We saw this in the Chargers game, when a Broncos’ drive stalled at the Los Angeles 3 during the third quarter and when McManus missed during the fourth. The Broncos didn’t finish drives against the Chargers, and they got away with it. They didn’t against the Bills.
• The Autumn Wind is a Raider: One game can be a fluke. Two can be a trend, so it’s Raiders week. With the Chiefs at 3-0 and both the Broncos and Raiders coming off losses, the loser of this game could be down two games in the AFC West. This is a pretty big game this early in the season. The best thing the Broncos can do is shake off Buffalo and take it to Oakland/Las Vegas.
• In a week when favorites went down, Kansas City and Atlanta are the only undefeated teams left in the league. The latter got away with one in Detroit. Locally of more concern are the Chiefs, who are looking good.
If you’re wondering, K.C. has a stiff schedule ahead, Redskins this week, followed by at Texans, Steelers and at Raiders. After Oakland, Monday, Oct. 30, is Broncos at Chiefs.
• Why we don’t ever write off the Patriots … Their comeback against the Texans. New England is still flawed, but with Tom Brady, the Evil Empire is always in contention.
• Was I the only one surprised that the Packers’ win over the Bengals was Aaron Rodgers’ first overtime win?
• And let the record state that the San Francisco 49ers scored not one, but several touchdowns last week. It’s the little things when your team is 0-3.
On to Week 4.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.