Once again, the Denver Broncos are underdogs. At home.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 6-point favorites at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday. The Broncos have been underdogs in each game this season but so far, although they've lost each game, they've covered the spread in both.
This week, it's another future Hall-of-Fame quarterback rolling into town and one that frankly hasn't had a ton of success at Mile High. Tom Brady might be in a new football city, sporting a new uniform, but he's the same quarterback, at least, he is mentally.
Physically, the 43-year-old Brady might have lost some of the mustard on his heater but he's still got that football brain that has seen everything the NFL has to throw at a QB over the last two decades. And this time, the collection of talent around him has been significantly upgraded.
The Broncos won't be able to play coverage on Sunday and hope to keep Brady in check. He'll sit back in the pocket and dissect the Broncos rookie cornerbacks with the dink and dunk. Vic Fangio has a plan. Here's to hoping it works.
Meanwhile, it's the Jeff Driskel show for the Broncos offense. With no Courtland Sutton and a banged-up Jerry Jeudy, Driskel will have to feed other playmakers but the good news is, there are more than one or two.
Tight end Noah Fant and running back Melvin Gordon need to have a big game and don't be surprised to see rookie wideout KJ Hamler make a few splash plays. If Driskel can throw it around on Sunday like he did in Pittsburgh, the Broncos will have a chance.
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What to Watch For
• Denver owns a 9-8 all-time overall record and 6-7 regular-season record against Brady. Denver is the only NFL team with an overall winning record against Brady.
• With a win on Sunday, the Broncos can extend their win streak over Tampa Bay to five games (2004-pres.).
• Noah Fant needs 100 receiving yards to become the fifth Broncos pass-catcher to reach 800 career receiving yards by his 19th game, needs one touchdown reception to match Demaryius Thomas (6) for the second-most touchdown catches in team history through his first 19 games, needs one receiving touchdown to be come the first Broncos tight end to record at least one receiving score in three consecutive games since Julius Thomas in 2013.
• Melvin Gordon needs 105 receiving yards to become the eighth active running back with 2,000 receiving yards in his career, needs one scrimmage touchdown (rush or rec.) to become the fifth active running back with 50 combined scores.
• Jerry Jeudy needs 28 receiving yards to pass Glyn Milburn (145, 1993) for the fifth-most receiving yards in team history through a player's first three games, needs 32 receiving yards to pass Demaryius Thomas (149, 2010) for the fourth-most receiving yards in team history through a player's first three games, needs 50 receiving yards to pass Vance Johnson (167, 1985) for the third-most receiving yards in team history through a player's first three games.
RT Elijah Wilkinson flagged for holding on first play from scrimmage.
Broncos move the sticks, overcoming the penalty with Jeff Driskel picking up the first down with his legs.
On 3rd-&-10, Driskel connects with Noah Fant for a 6-yard gain. Punt.
Punt is blocked. Patrick O'Connor picks up the ball, returns it to Denver 10-yard line.
Tom Brady hits Chris Godwin on 3rd-&-goal. Touchdown. Extra point is good.
Bucs 7, Broncos 0
Driskel throws incomplete on first down, Gordon stuffed for 2-yard loss on second, Driskel hit as he throws on 3rd-&-12. Incomplete. This time, Sam Martin's punt is not blocked.
On 3rd-&-4, DeShawn Williams tips Brady's pass. Incomplete.
Broncos go three-and-out. Punt.
Brady moves the ball but stalls just inside Broncos territory. Brings up 4th-&-1 after Bruce Arians challenges spot of the ball.
Bucs go for it. Leonard Fournette picks up the yardage. New set of downs for Tampa Bay.
Brady-Fournette fumble on the hand-off exchange. Bucs recover.
On 2nd-&-11, the bubble screen goes to Godwin who promptly picks up 10 yards like it's nothing. 3rd-&-1.
Shelby Harris tips the third-down pass. Incomplete.
Ryan Succup's 43-yard field goal attempt is good. Bucs extend lead.
Bucs 10, Broncos 0
Broncos open quarter two with a 2nd-&-8.
Driskel hits Jerry Jeudy for a 15-yard gain.
On first down, the play-action fake goes to Fant who picks up 18 yards.
On second down, Driskel fails to get rid of the ball after he's pressured off the edge by an obvious blitzer. Sacked. Brings up 3rd-&-16.
3rd-&-16, Driskel hits Fant for a 7-yard gain. Brings up 4th-&-9. Fangio trots Brandon McManus out to attempt the the 56-yarder. It's good.
Bucs 10, Broncos 3
On 2nd-&-8, Anthony Chickillo breaks up Brady's pass.
On 3rd-&-8, Justin Simmons is beaten over the top for a 47-yard gain. Bucs in business.
On 2nd-&-5, Brady misses a wide-open Rob Gronkowski in the end zone. Josey Jewell beaten in coverage.
On 3rd-&-5, Brady connects with Godwin on the cross for a 6-yard gain.
Brady pressured and almost sacked by Harris. Just gets the ball away on first down. Incomplete.
On second down, Fournette picks up six yards.
Brings up 3rd-&-4. Brady connects with Gronkowski to move the chains.
Two plays get the Bucs 3rd-&-Goal from the 1-yard line. Look for Fournette or Gronk here.
Nope. A quick screen goes to Mike Evans. Easy touchdown. Extra point is good.
Bucs 17, Broncos 3
Broncos go three-and-out after Shaquil Barrett sacks Driskel on second down. A third-down screen pass to Gordon is swallowed up quickly by Bucs. Punt.
Bucs with good field position after the 49-yard punt.
Brady hits O.J. Howard for a 33-yard gain. Jewell in coverage, penalized for pass interference. Penalty is declined. Great one-handed grab by Howard.
Broncos getting trucked. Brady hits Evans with a goal-line fade. Touchdown.
The extra point is blocked by Joe Jones. No good.
Bucs 23, Broncos 3
Broncos drive and score. Driskel to Tim Patrick. Broncos narrow the margin.
Bucs 23, Broncos 10
Bucs drive but stall at midfield. Punt.
The 41-yard punt is fair caught by Diontae Spencer.
Fant drops a chain-mover on first down. Two plays later, he drops another.
Driskel sacked in the end zone by Barrett for the safety.
Broncos force Bucs to punt.
Broncos go three-and-out.
Bucs drive but on 3rd-&-16, Brady throws to LeSean McCoy, who picks up 15 yards. Punt.
On 2nd-&-13, Driskel gets hit as he throws. LaVante David intercepts. Bucs in business.
Shelby Harris sneaks through for the shoe-string sack on Brady.
On 3rd-&-14, Bradley Chubb catches Brady for a 1-yard gain. Succop's field goal is good.
Bucs 28, Broncos 10
On 3rd-&-15, Driskel sacked by Ndamukong Suh. Fifth sack on the day.
Brady sacked on second down by Harris. Brings up 3rd-&-28 and Bucs almost got in. Brady to Scottie Miller for 27. Brings up a punt.
Driskel benched. Brett Rypien in the game.
Rypien moves the ball but on 4th-&-1, he goes for the homerun and is picked off in the end zone.
Bucs 28, Broncos 10