BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Two weeks is not a long time. However, in that span the Broncos have gone from AFC also-ran to the NFL's sexy surprise. Nothing like beating the Dallas Cowboys to raise a team's profile. Coach Vance Joseph boarded his team on a Friday flight to Buffalo to prevent any disruption of the team's successful Saturday workouts. Joseph is attempting to become the fourth Broncos coach to start his career 3-0.
The Broncos are favored, but with little conviction. Such is life when teams travel east and play early. The Broncos are 14-3 in their last 17 games in the 1 p.m. EST time slot, but Buffalo has never been an easy outing.
A look at my Denver7 keys to victory:
1) Stop the run
Stop me if you have heard this before. The Broncos' defense is scarier than the clown in "IT" when they prevent opponents from rushing the ball. A one-dimensional quarterback stands no chance against the No Fly Zone. In some ways, the Bills are a poor man's version of the Cowboys' attack. Look for the Broncos to stack up Shady McCoy and release the hounds in the pass rush.
2) Watch the scramble
A vulnerability exists for the defense in this regard. When Broncos load the box and play man coverage, they can get exposed when Tyrod Taylor scrambles. It's imperative the corners and safeties peek their eyes back to the line of scrimmage to prevent big gains. Taylor is elusive, and will look to run, especially on down and distance. He has yet to gain traction under new offensive coordinator Rick Dennison (pictured above with Trevor Siemian last season).
3) Go Von Go
Outside linebacker Von Miller survived a cheap shot by Cowboys receiver Noah Brown, but wore a sleeve on his right knee during practice. With left tackle Cordy Glenn sidelined with an injury, the Broncos hold a huge advantage. Look for double tight end sets to chip Miller, but that should free Shaq Barrett to do damage. And Von will not be contained for 60 minutes.
4) Control the pass rush
Trevor Siemian ranks as one of the league's feel-good stories this season. He has thrown for 450 yards and six touchdowns. But the challenge is real this week. He is 3-4 as a starter on the road, and wades into a rowdy environment with questions at both tackle spots. Garett Bolles is more likely to play than not after recovering quickly from a bone bruise on his left leg. But how effective can he be? And what's up with right tackle Menelik Watson? He has struggled to regain his position of leverage if he doesn't strike the rusher perfectly. He told me he's ready to "earn respect" on the field. The Bills attack aggressively. It is imperative the Broncos keep Siemian healthy and upright.
5) Run like the wind
C.J. Anderson and crew rank as the NFL's top-ranked running game. I expect the Bills will place eight in the box to stop him. It could lead to more play action and boot legs. Also, with the Bills' emphasis on stuffing the middle, this sets up as a day for Jamaal Charles to break free on the edge with his best game as a Bronco.
6) Watch the safeties
In the Bills' new scheme, the safeties are allowed to roam the field. They have playmakers and Siemian must consider this as he goes through his progressions. A pick six is the easiest way to lose a road game.
7) Straighten out, BMac
Brandon McManus has been the Broncos' best offensive weapon the past two seasons. He has missed kicks in the first two games. It's unlike him, and on the road he must snap out of his mini-slump. It's easy to see this as a one-score game, amplifying the importance of McManus cashing in two field goals.
RENCK PREDICTION: Broncos 23, Bills 16