3 Keys to Defeating the Denver Broncos

A few points of emphasis for the Buccaneers when they host the defending Super Bowl champions.

Pictures of the Top 10 Broncos in Week 3, according to their Pro Football Focus player grade.

1. Establish the running game.
Since losing Doug Martin to a hamstring injury in Week 1, the Buccaneers turned primarily to the passing game. Through three weeks, the Bucs have the fifth-fewest rushing attempts in the league and the most passing attempts. While the Broncos have one of the NFL's best pass defenses, they are also one of the worst teams in the league against the run. Denver allows an average of 127.7 rushing yards per game, the sixth-most in the league, while giving up 178.3 passing yards, the fourth-fewest. Whether or not Martin will be available for Week 4 has yet to be determined. If he's unable to go, the majority of the Bucs' carries will be handled by Charles Sims. Sims has proven to be a productive third-down back, but is still looking to find his rhythm as an every-down runner.

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  1. Protect Jameis Winston. **
    The Broncos have an excellent secondary, but a big part of why they're so good against the pass is their dominant group of pass-rushers, led by Von Miller. Through three games, the Broncos have 12 sacks, which are the second-most in the league. Offensive tackles Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson will be responsible for containing Miller and DeMarcus Ware, and the Buccaneers may bring in an extra lineman, likely Gosder Cherilus, to help out in certain situations. The Bucs surely miss Martin in the backfield, but have also missed Luke Stocker, their top blocking tight end. If he is back in the lineup on Sunday, it will go a long way towards slowing the Broncos' pass rush.

3. Get to the passer.
The Buccaneers are down two defensive ends – Jacquies Smith and George Johnson – for the remainder of the season, and the team was without Robert Ayers in Week 3. With so many injuries, Tampa Bay turned to undrafted rookie DaVonte Lambert to start at defensive end against the Rams. The Buccaneers led the NFL in sacks during the preseason, but have just five through three games. It is crucial for the Buccaneers to disrupt first-year starter Trevor Siemian, who flashed in Week 3, throwing for 312 and four touchdowns without an interception.

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