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2017 Opponent Scouting Report: Week 15, Broncos Special Teams, A Prediction and Draft Watch

NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports


On December 14, 2017, the Indianapolis Colts will host the Denver Broncos. In this Week 15 match-up, I sought to understand our opponent and get a better idea for what we are up against.

Thursday Night games aren’t fun for the players, coaches or anyone involved with actually making a football game happen on a four-day turnaround. With that said, I do enjoy getting to watch the Colts in prime time, and even though this game won’t remotely resemble the last time these two horse-themed teams played, I will enjoy the bright lights and Al Michael’s silky smooth calls. Ultimately this is a week 15 prime time game featuring two teams so far out of playoff contention that most players’ wives won’t even be watching. With that said, there are some questions to be answered and interesting things to watch for.

Let’s figure out what we can expect in Week 15.

Special Teams

Kicker: Brandon McManus

NFL: Denver Broncos at Buffalo Bills Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon McManus historically has been excellent kicking extra points. The fourth-year pro only has missed two single point tries. Normally this isn’t something that I mention because, well they’re extra points you should hit a very high percentage. The reason I mention it is due to the fact that McManus is 21 for 28 on field goal attempts this year.

I will cut him some slack, playing outdoors in Denver, the degree of difficulty is higher than playing all of your home games in a dome. Regardless 75% isn’t good in 2017, and while I don’t think it will have an impact this week, it is something to watch for.

Punter: Riley Dixon

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Dixon is a good punter. He’s averaging 46 yards per punt this year and 45.8 yards per for his career. I will say that once again punting outdoors in Denver isn’t the easiest thing to do, but his average should be high due to everything traveling further in Denver. Mile high, thin air and whatnot.

One thing to watch for in this one is the fact that Dixon has had two punts blocked this year. Ultimately nothing is likely to come from it but it’s worth mentioning.

Returners: Isaiah McKenzie and Devontae Booker

NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Booker returns kicks and McKenzie returns punts. My hope is Booker returns everything Rigoberto Sanchez puts in the endzone because he only averages 20.6 yards per attempt.

McKenzie averages 8.7 yards per punt return and has a season long of 44 yards. Between the two McKenzie worries me the most, but this special teams unit hasn’t exactly been a high point of the Broncos 2017 season.

Final Thoughts for the Week

This Broncos defense is better than our offense. Our Colts defense is better than their offense. So who wins? I believe it’s going to come down to one team moving the ball just well enough to score a few times and finish the game on defense.

On an unrelated note last week I wrote about the Buffalo Bills special teams unit, if you would like you can read that here. I would like to point out that I warned everyone about the potential for snow, and it is the first and likely last time I’ll include a clip from WeatherBug. With that said, that’s not why I’m talking about that article.

In that piece I talked about Bills punter Colton Schmidt and while I didn’t feel that I said anything detrimental about the guy, I did have a source close to the punter reach out to me via email and present a case for why Schmidt might be better than I gave him credit for.

At first I was surprised, but I did consider what this person had to say. Then the Blizzard Bowl took place and Schmidt did a fantastic job for the Bills, and I am forced to say that I undersold Colton Schmidt. While his overall average may not be tops in the league, he does consistently have a good net, and I didn’t give him enough credit for punting outdoors in Buffalo. So Mr. Schmidt, I apologize. I wouldn’t trade Rigoberto Sanchez for you, but that’s mostly due to the fact that I like to say “Rigoberto Sanchez”.


Broncos 13

Colts 9

Draft Watch

This segment will keep an eye on our draft positioning as the year progresses. No, I’m not suggesting that we throw the season or that we should all look forward to the draft. Rather I hope that this will allow us all to be aware of next offseason and realize how much our 2018 outlook can change from week to week.

I would like to point out a really cool site that covers the NBA, NHL and NFL: Tankathon. It has a funny name but it serves a cool purpose, weeding out tie breakers to show who is slated to draft where.

2018 Colts Draft Position Post Week Three:

3rd Overall

  1. Cleveland Browns. This team might lose 16 games this year. No one is taking the top spot from them.
  2. New York Giants. Still a dumpster fire. With the Eagles, Cardinals and Redskins still on the schedule I don’t see any way these Giants are moving from this spot.
  3. Indianapolis Colts. You guys should absolutely know about this one.
  4. San Francisco 49ers. Starting Jimmy Garoppolo has resulted in a 2-game win streak for the Niners. While they play the Titans, Jags and Rams in the coming weeks, I actually think they can beat a struggling Titans team.
  5. Houston Texans. So this pick actually belongs to the Browns. Good for the Browns. The Texans will lose their next two and will have the draft position game of the century in week 17 when our Colts host the final game of the year.
  6. Denver Broncos. The Broncos stink, but they shut out the New York Jets last weekend. I expect them to win tonight's game and further drop down the draft rankings.

All in all we’re still in a good position for the draft. There aren’t many ways I foresee us falling out of the top 5 picks, and if we do, I would bet my house we don’t miss the top 10. For the record, I’m going to be pimping Connor Williams from now until the April draft so, buckle up, buttercup.

Enjoy the game and just go ahead and let your boss know you’re not going to make it in tomorrow. Win or lose don’t go to bed early, wouldn’t want to miss a second of Chuck Pagano’s last prime-time game as an NFL head coach.