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A Good Step Forward for Knowshon Moreno

Moreno was Serviceable Against KC, but His Toughest Test Awaits

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY| I wrote last week that in the wake of the injury to Willis McGahee, Knowshon Moreno would get his run at redemption. Well, Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs was a good start, but don't go buying #27 jerseys just yet.

Moreno was serviceable. He hit the holes hard and gained 85 yards on 20 carries. He was equally as helpful in the passing game. After missing a block coming out of the backfield in the first quarter that led to a sack of quarterback Peyton Manning, Moreno chipped defensive ends the rest of the day before heading out into the flat.

He hauled in four of Manning's passes for another 26 yards. That gave him 111 yards on 24 all-purpose touches, about 4.6 yards every time he handled it.

More importantly, Moreno held onto the football. The previously fumble-prone back held onto the ball all day, even noticeably carrying it with two hands as he finished runs in the waning moments of the fourth quarter.

There is no doubt Knowshon Moreno was solid on Sunday. But, it was the Chiefs. The Kansas City defense has been surrendering 126.1 yards per game on the ground, only seven NFL teams have a worse rushing yards against per game average. Not to mention the fact that Moreno has two career 100-yard performances, and both came against Kansas City.

It appears the Broncos front office isn't sold on Moreno yet, either. They signed former San Diego Charger Jacob Hester to the active roster on Monday.

Statistically, his toughest test should come next weekend when the Broncos host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As was pointed out to me by a commenter last week, the Bucs have the number one defense against the run in the NFL. The Tampa defense is only allowing 81.5 yards per game on the ground, an impressive number for the 6-5 team.

If Moreno can put up a solid, fumble-free performance at home against the Bucs, then we can all start drinking the Kool-aid--and you can go buy your #27 jersey.

Because from there, it's statistically downhill for opponents. The Broncos travel to Oakland on Dec. 6 for a Thursday night game. Oakland is ranked 28th in yards per game allowed. The Raiders are surrendering 131.2 yards per game on the ground, the worst the Broncos will face.

After Oakland, it is Baltimore, a Ray Lewis-less Baltimore. Almost shocking to read, the Ravens are allowing 128.5 yards per game on the ground, ranking them 26th. It is still hard to believe that is where the always-feared Ravens defense rates, but the team is 9-2, and those won't be easy yards for Moreno.

After that, the Broncos host Cleveland (19th; 118.4 yds/game) and Kansas City, again.

If Moreno can maintain a balanced game, picking up solid yardage, assisting in pass protection and hanging onto the football, the Broncos are poised to make a run.

Cody is a lifelong Denver Broncos fan living in the Colorado area. He has stayed loyal to orange and blue from Elway to Plummer, Cutler through Tebow and now, finally, Peyton Manning.

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