KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: CBS, Spero Dedes, Solomon Wilcots.
SERIES HISTORY: 9th regular-season meeting. Broncos lead series, 6-2. Broncos have won three straight. Most historic meeting between these two teams was on Oct. 3, 2004, when the Broncos edged the Bucs 16-13 in John Lynch's emotional return to Tampa after being released by the Bucs and joining the Broncos the previous offseason.
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Broncos' offense continues to develop under first-year starting QB Trevor Siemian but the scoring output has been impressive, courtesy in large part to a defense that provides a consistent diet of short fields to exploit. Siemian was fortunate to avoid a pair of potential interceptions early last week and his ability to protect the ball will again be critical. Denver is getting a modest average of 3.8 yards per carry out of RBs C.J. Anderson and Devontae Booker, so Siemian is tasked with his share of long passing downs and the coaching staff has begun to open up the play-action vertical passing game.
Tampa Bay is minus-6 in turnover ratio, with the defense producing just one interception while quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown six picks. With Doug Martin sidelined for a second straight week by a hamstring injury, Winston needs more help from Charles Sims (3.4 yards per carry). Arizona mercilessly crashed the edges around Winston last week and he'll see more of the same from Von Miller and Shane Ray. Sims is an excellent receiver and has 12 catches through three games, so he could serve as an outlet weapon to thwart that pass rush. Inevitably, it comes down to the offensive line proving Winston with time in the picket, and his ability to step up and make plays - not mistakes - in the face of pressure.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Broncos C Matt Paradis/Michael Schofield vs. Bucs DT Gerald McCoy. Cincinnati's Geno Atkins had success pressuring the interior of Denver's offensive line last week and McCoy has the ability to provide the same disruptive presence. Paradis has emerged as the steady leader of Denver's o-line, while McCoy enters with eight tackles and a sack on the season.
--Broncos CB Aqib Talib vs. Bucs WR Mike Evans. Two players who rely heavily on their size and physicality should square off regularly. Evans enters with a team-high 21 receptions for 301 yards and three touchdowns. Also in the secondary, watch for Chris Harris Jr. when he slides inside in the Broncos' nickel and dime packages to work against Bucs slot receiver Adam Humphries (18 catches for 201 yards).
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Bucs LT Donovan Smith - With Demar Dotson likely receiving significant help working against Miller on the other side, Smith will have to be able to hold his own against Ray, who is coming off a career-high 3.0 sacks against Cincinnati last week.
FAST FACTS: The Broncos' combined margin of victory over the past two weeks has been 26 points. Their margin of victory in their previous six wins was 34 points (5.7 average). ... Sims has 100-plus yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games.
PREDICTION: The Bucs have an explosive offense, but it can also implode when the ground game is shut down and Winston is forcing the ball downfield in the face of pressure. No one supplies that pressure better than the Broncos, although this game could be closer than expected if the Bucs get their hands on a few of Siemian's passes.
OUR PICK: Broncos, 23-17.