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Broncos not falling for trap against Bills
Considering that the Denver Broncos came into the season with lower outside expectations than at any other point in the last five years, the notion of the team facing a trap game might seem a bit odd.
But after mauling the Cowboys 42-17 last Sunday to complete a 2-0 start that saw them keep pace with the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders in what appears to be a three-way dogfight atop the AFC West, that's what the Broncos appear to face when they head to Buffalo to play the Bills.
Buffalo spent August appearing to focus on the future after sending wide receiver Sammy Watkins and cornerback Ronald Darby to the Rams and Eagles, respectively, in trades.
The Bills come into the game in the league's bottom 10 in points, yardage and first downs per game. Its offense generated just three points in a loss last week at Carolina. Further, the Broncos have a Week 4 showdown with the Raiders looming. It would be easy for them to be caught looking ahead.
But at the same time, this is a team that missed the playoffs after starting the 2016 season 4-0.
"That's a big factor. Last year, we were in the same boat," safety Justin Simmons said. "Obviously a great start is great, but it's about how you finish."
"It's tough to get fat and happy four games into the season, right?," added Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian. "It's such a long season and teams are so good week to week. I don't care what anybody's record is."
The Broncos also have plenty of players who recall nearly being foiled by a similar trap game at Cleveland in 2015. The Broncos rolled into Cleveland 5-0, and had a bye and a showdown with the undefeated Green Bay Packers next on their docket. They promptly stumbled through regulation and would have lost in overtime if not for a timely defensive stand that knocked the Browns out of Denver territory, setting up a game-winning drive to a Brandon McManus field goal.
Trap game? The Broncos are having none of it.
"To say it's a 'trap game' in this league is disrespectful to you opponent," Broncos coach Vance Joseph said. "I don't think it exists in this league to have a trap game. Every team you play has great players."
And with the Bills, the Broncos' challenge starts with a front seven that has three recent Pro Bowlers: defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus and outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander. That poses a challenge for a Broncos offensive line that has helped propel the Broncos to the top of the league's rushing charts after two games, but also has allowed six sacks.
"Their front seven has three Pro Bowl players. They're ranked third in the league in defense right now. LeSean McCoy is a great player. Trap game? No. We don't see it like that. We see it as we have success to do more, work harder, study harder and recover harder."
Besides, if the Broncos are to keep pace with their division rivals, they cannot afford to lose winnable games like a game against a team that hasn't been to the playoffs since the Clinton administration. The Raiders and Week 4 must remain far from their minds.
"All we"re focused on is Buffalo. The Raiders will come when they come," inside linebacker Todd Davis said.
SERIES HISTORY: 37th regular-season meeting. Bills lead series, 19-16-1. Teams have split the last four games. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Jan. 12, 1992, when the Bills turned back the Broncos 10-7 in the AFC Championship Game to go to their second consecutive Super Bowl.