Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Broncos aiming to upset the Packers this week

The Denver Broncos (1-2) will travel to Green Bay to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Packers (3-0) this week. Kickoff at Lambeau Field on Sunday, October 2nd, is schedule for 4:15 p.m. (ET).

The game will be broadcast by CBS's Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, and will be aired across most of the country. The game is not thought of as a must-watch (the Broncos are 14-point underdogs), but America is certainly interested in following the reigning Super Bowl Champions.

Just over a decade ago, the Broncos were 14-point underdogs against the Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.

A lot of things have changed in Denver and Green Bay since then, but at least one aspect of Sunday's game will be similar to the 1998 Super Bowl: Green Bay's potent passing attack.

The Packers' Aaron Rodgers comes into Sunday's game having thrown for 917 yards, eight touchdowns and just one interception this season. Green Bay's offense has been next to unstoppable.

Fortunately for the Broncos, their defense has been playing much better than it has in previous seasons, and the Packers defense is susceptible -- especially against the pass. The Packers defense has allowed 359.3 passing yards per game, giving them a second to last ranking in the NFL in that category.

That's the good news for Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, who's played inconsistently in recent games. Orton has reliable targets in veteran receiver Brandon Lloyd and rising star Eric Decker. On paper, Orton seems primed to have a solid performance.

The bad news for Orton is Green Bay's outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The Broncos offensive line has been struggling this season, allowing 8 sacks and 13 quarterback hits, while Matthews has recorded 12 tackles and a sack. Denver's offensive line will have their hands full on Sunday. Expect the offense to get at least two players on Matthews every time his rushes the passer.

Teams have "double teamed" Matthews this season and limited his effectiveness, much like Denver's opponents have keyed on Broncos rookie outside linebacker Von Miller. Despite drawing a lot of attention from offensive lines, Miller is one of just two players in the league (Baltimore's Terrell Suggs) to have recorded at least 10 tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles in September.

The Broncos are hopeful that Miller will be joined by fellow pass rusher Elvis Dumervil this week, who is recovering from a shoulder injury and hasn't played since being limited against the Raiders on opening weekend. When healthy, Dumervil is one of the most effective edge rushers in the NFL. If he is able to play on Sunday and pressure Rodgers, the Broncos defense would benefit tremendously.

Another starting defensive player that is battling an injury is cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring), who could end up being one of the most important players on Sunday for Denver. Without Bailey, the Broncos secondary has struggled against the pass the previous two weeks and blown coverage has accrued more than once.

If the Broncos are going to slow down the Packers pass-happy offense, they'll have to play close to mistake free. Having perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey in the secondary would be a huge boost for the defensive unit.

If the Broncos are able to upset the Packers on Sunday, it would mark their 400th franchise victory and bump their all time record against defending Super Bowl champions to 16-10.

If you live in the Wisconsin area, you may want to check out tickets to the game on our TiqIQ widget. The average price of tickets to the game is $274, with prices starting at $174. View more tickets and prices by clicking here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tebow plays receiver as Broncos hold on to a 24-22 win over the Cincinnati Bengals

Early in the first quarter at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal went down with a groin injury, leaving second year receiver Eric Decker and Matthew Willis as the Broncos only two remaining active receivers (Brandon Lloyd and Demaryius Thomas did not dress due to injuries).

Faced with a wide receiver dilemma, coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Mike McCoy turned to... Co-No. 2 quarterback Tim Tebow.

Per ESPN's Chris Mortenson, Tebow had asked earlier in the week to practice with the scout team offense as wide receiver instead of just stand around. Fox said Tebow hadn't practiced the position at all during the week but that the coaches had told him to be ready in case of injuries.

Tebow was ready and got the call in the first quarter. The Broncos used the former Florida Heisman Trophy winner as the third receiver, basically a decoy to the defense. Denver ran on most plays Tebow was on the field (and yes, he blocked well) and threw several times, but never in Tebow's direction.

Kudos go out to Tebow for being willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field (we were wondering why he was wearing two gloves when he usually doesn't even wear one) and a shout out to Fox and McCoy for finding a way to get him involved in the offense. It will be interesting to see if Tebow's role in the offense expands down the stretch.

Starting quarterback Kyle Orton may have also at least quieted the calls for his head, as the veteran quarterback went 15-of-25 for 195 yards and two touchdowns, both of which were thrown to second year receiver Eric Decker. After two games, Decker now had 8 catches for 166 yards and two receiving touchdowns to compliment his 5 punt returns that went for 125 yards and another score.

Joining Orton and Decker as the main offensive weapons Sunday was running back Willis McGahee, who added a physical punch that Denver's rushing attack has been missing for years. McGahee rushed 28 times for 101 yards and one touchdown, marking the first time a Broncos running back has rushed for 100 yards or more in a game since Knowshon Moreno did it last November.

The offensive line and fullback Spencer Larsen did an excellent job of paving rushing lanes for McGahee, after a dismal week-one effort against the Raiders when McGahee averaged less than one yard per rush. Larsen added one rush for four yards and three catches for twenty-three yards while the offense line helped produce 326 yards of total offense.

While the offense looked improved, Denver's defense won the game. The Broncos defense twice stopped Cincinnati's offense late in the fourth quarter, helping the Broncos hold on to a two-point lead. Special teams captain Wesley Woodyard started at linebacker in the place of D.J. Williams (elbow) and led the team with thirteen tackles.

Rookie linebacker Von Miller recorded three tackles and his first career sack, while defensive back Jonathan Wilhite and defensive end Robert Ayers forced a key sack and quarterback hurry respectively to keep the Bengals offense out of field goal range late in the game.

The 24-22 victory marks John Fox's (1-1) first career win with the Broncos, which is more impressive when you consider the fact that the team was without cornerback Champ Bailey, defensive end Elvis Dumervil, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, running back Knowshon Moreno, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas and linebacker D.J. Williams due to respective injuries.

The Broncos are in good standing in the AFC West after the Oakland Raiders (1-1) fell to the Buffalo Bills 38-35, the Kansas City Chiefs (0-2) fell to the Detroit Lions 48-3 and the San Diego Chargers (1-1) fell to the New England Patriots 35-21 in Week Two.

The Broncos will travel to Tennessee next week to take on the Titans. The Broncos will need to heal up on offense, do a better job of scoring and take care of the football if they want to keep winning. For now, cautious optimism is to be expected from Broncos fans.

Photos used in this article were courtesy of Getty Images and Reuters Pictures.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Moreno unlikely to play Sunday; Broncos activate Johnson from practice squad

After missing a whole week of practice, running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) was officially listed as "questionable" for Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It appears however that Moreno may not even suit up as the team plans to activate fellow running back Jeremiah Johnson from the practice squad.

Veteran running back Willis McGahee will get the start, with back-up Lance Ball seeing carries as well. Johnson figures to be in the mix, but not heavily. Last week Moreno saw twice as many carries as McGahee, expect similar numbers Sunday between McGahee and Ball (who had no rushes Sunday but did add one catch that went for nine yards and a score).

Meanwhile, wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) was back at practice Friday and will probably be ready to go Sunday. Lloyd's injury appears to be the least serious on the injury report and if the team was not confident that he would be ready to go, they probably would have activated Eron Riley from the practice squad.

Defensive end Elvis Dumervil has a lingering shoulder injury and is listed as questionable as well. Cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring) is also listed as questionable and is unlikely to play.

In the place of Bailey and Dumervil, expect cornerback Cassius Vaughn and defensive end Jason Hunter to start against the Bengals. Hunter saw a lot of playing time last week against Oakland filling in for the injured Dumervil and Vaughn is also no stranger to playing time. Cornerback Jonathan Wilhite could also factor into the secondary mix.

There are 768 tickets still available to Sunday's game through our TiqIQ widget, with the average price of a seat coming in at $137 dollars. Prices are starting at $35. For more, see our TiqIQ widget on the sidebar or click here.

We certainly haven't forgotten what happened the last time these two teams faced off. Here's hoping for another exciting game that ends with the Broncos getting a "W".

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Broncos battling injuries heading into Week Two

When the Denver Broncos face off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon they could be without several key players. Four starters sat out practice Wednesday and again Thursday in Dove Valley.

Cornerback Champ Bailey (hamstring), defensive end Elvis Dumervil (shoulder), running back Knowshon Moreno (hamstring) and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin) are all on a day-to-day status, reports Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post.

Defensive tackles Ty Warren and Marcus Thomas did not play on Monday and were expected to miss Sunday's game, along with linebacker D.J. Williams (elbow) and Demaryius Thomas (finger, Achilles).

The Broncos will officially declare the statuses of the four injured starters on Friday.

Meanwhile, Bengals rookie quarterback Andy Dalton was not able to throw at practice on Wednesday and may miss Sunday's game. Veteran quarterback Bruce Gradkowski will start against the Broncos if Dalton is not ready to go.

Here's hoping the injured Broncos heal up quickly. Their absence will certainly be felt by the Broncos.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

You Decide: Which QB gives Broncos best chance to win?

We'll have more on last night's game in the coming hours. For now, head over to our facebook page to vote in a poll on who you think should start at quarterback for the Broncos in Week 2 against the Bengals.

Dish out your thoughts in the comments as well.

Personally, I don't think you can put all the blame on Orton. The offensive line was awful, the running backs created no rushing attack, the wide receivers dropped passes and both McGahee and Moreno put the ball on the ground. With that said however, if Orton doesn't step it up in the next few weeks, I'll want to see what the other quarterbacks can do.

Resetting Expectations

The kool-aid tasted oh so great in the past few weeks.

Over the summer, I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Dove Valley twice for a training camp practice as well as see the team beat the Buffalo Bills in the first game at newly named Sports Authority Field at Mile High. What I saw was a defense that made major strides after being ranked last or second to last in most of the major statistic categories. I saw an offensive line that was able to control the trenches on most occasions and a starting quarterback who took care of the football.

Rather than confirming the positive that most of us believed about this Broncos team in the first game of the season, we got a (un)healthy dose of reality instead. Reality is that this team is not much different from last year. Reality is that a run game, despite flashes in the preseason, was nowhere to be found last night as the offensive line struggled to create any room for Moreno or McGahee. Reality is that despite excitement about the return of Elvis Dumervil and the addition of Von Miller, a pass rush really does not help if your opponents run you over on first and second downs.

I'll give Darren McFadden the credit that he's one of the top 10 backs in the league, but we'll be facing plenty more of those down the road in Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles (twice) as well as another meeting with McFadden in the Black Hole.

I'm remaining optimistic that the run defense will improve over the season. One thing that could benefit the Broncos is that, now that week 1 is over, teams can sign veteran free agents without having to guarantee their full contract. I'm fine with Broderick Bunkley, Kevin Vickerson and Marcus Thomas (who's still recovering from injury) settling into their roles considering the short offseason we've had, but I keep wondering, can the Broncos really afford to wait for Ty Warren for more than half of the season? Not if you ask me. Ryan McBean... Mitch Unrein... well. Upgrades are always possible. With so many good rushers on our schedule, improving the run defense will be key if the Broncos want to have any success this season.

Despite the fact that this team struggled in several different areas of the game, the main focus of debate, as the Broncos prepare to face the Bengals in week two, will be the quarterback. Broncos fans seem divided over the situation, with many ready to have Tebow at the helm of the offense. While Kyle Orton clearly struggled on Monday, such a move would be a knee-jerk reaction after only one game in the season, and I'm sure the Broncos will not give in to any of the outcry.

However, imagine this scenario four weeks down the road, in which the Broncos are 0-5. Unable to improve their run defense after the Raiders game, the Broncos face, as previously mentioned, Cedric Benson and the Bengals, Chris Johnson and the Titans, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and Phillip Rivers and the Chargers. While many noted the Bengals and Titans games as winnable before the season, things do not look to be so sure now. In the case of a 0-5 record, what should the Broncos do?

By then, arguing for a change at quarterback is not only a matter of having more faith in Tebow than Orton to lead this team to success. With what looks to be the best quarterback class in at least eight years eligible for the draft, the Broncos will NEED to know what Tebow brings to the table. As of yet he is the only quarterback under contract next year, and many questions still surround his future. While a few fans already seemed to have embraced the "Suck-for-Luck" movement, reality is that we might end up in a situation in which the Broncos are in a position to draft one of the top quarterback prospects available next year. If so, the team must know if Tim Tebow has any future with the organization.

As bleak as things looked on Monday, there is no need to overreact. Of the 16 teams that started this season 0-1, some will still make the play-offs. While the road back to the play-offs is still a long one for the Broncos, let's wait and see how the team looks against the Bengals on Sunday.

Overreaction is an easy form of escape in the situation that we are in right now and one that we need to avoid as much as possible. But while we're doing that, I'll put my kool-aid back in the cupboard, and hope they'll let me take it out again next year.

Follow Broncos Zone contributor Bert Jan Brands on twitter, @BertJanB.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Broncos ready for revenge on Oakland Raiders

When the Denver Broncos faced off against the Oakland Raiders at home in 2010 the result was an embarrassing 59-14 defeat. On Monday, both teams will face off again in Denver on ESPN's Monday Night Football double header.

This time, things will be different.

A lot of things have changed in Denver since last season. Legendary Broncos quarterback John Elway returned to the team as the Vice President of Football Operations before the team hired defensive minded John Fox as Head Coach and Dennis Allen as the defensive coordinator.

Denver then brought in players to upgrade the rushing attack (e.g Willis McGahee and offensive tackle Orlando Franklin); the home stadium was renamed Sports Authority Field at Mile High and perhaps above all, 2nd overall draft pick Von Miller will be joining defensive end Elvis Dumervil as the team's top two pass rushers.

With all that said, the Broncos still haven't forgotten what happened last season.

"You definitely don't want that to happen again," said cornerback Champ Bailey. "And I guarantee that won't happen again."

The Raiders agree with Bailey.

“They are playing with so much excitement and one thing I’ll say about their defense — they run to the ball very well. You’ll see one guy make a tackle and then there are six or seven blue shirts in there around the ball," said Oakland quarterback Jason Campbell It’s a tough challenge because you look at them on defense and they are totally different.”

Without a doubt, things will be different this year, including several jersey numbers.

On Thursday, Broncos defensive end Jason Hunter switched to No. 90 -- a more defensive lineman-esque number which will precede fellow DE's Robert Ayers (91) and Elvis Dumervil (92) numerically -- and linebacker/special teams captain Wesley Woodyard switched to No. 52 (previously worn by Hunter). Woodyard said it marks a new beginning for him.

Former Broncos running back Terrell Davis will be featured during the game's coin toss and will be on-hand to see what Denver's new two-back tandem of shifty Knowshon Moreno and powerful Willis McGahee are capable of.

McGahee, in honor of Davis, wants to bring back the Mile High Salute, which was popularized when Davis was with the team in the 1990's.

"We've got to bring back the 'Salute,'" McGahee said on Wednesday. "We have to represent for the running backs, Terrell Davis and those boys. When those guys were there we knew Denver was coming in and running the ball. That's got to be our mindset - running the ball against whoever, whenever, whatever they put up. We're ready."

Kickoff is just four days away, get ready for the return of Broncos Football!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Broncos name Team Captains; Preparing for Oakland

Denver Broncos Head Coach John Fox announced four team captains on Thursday, as voted by their teammates.

On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Kyle Orton and guard Chris Kuper will be the captains with cornerback Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins the defensive leaders.

The special team's captain will be linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who held such honors the previous two seasons. Fox will also name another captain week-to-week. On Monday, defensive end Elvis Dumervil will be that captain.

Denver has been preparing all week for their Week One rivalry against the Oakland Raiders on Monday Night Football, and are eager to kick off the 2011 season. There are tickets still available to the game, which will sell out.

How do you pronounce...

Still wondering how you properly pronounce "Demaryius"? Wondering if you are saying "Moreno" correctly? We've got you covered.
  • Knowshon MORENO (mo‐RAY‐no)
  • LONIE Paxton (LAH‐nee)
  • Elvis DUMERVIL (DOOmurvill)
  • Matt Prater (PRAY‐ter)
  • DEMARYIUS Thomas (duh‐MARE‐ee‐us)
  • Russ HOCHSTEIN (HOKE‐stine)
  • Mitch UNREIN (UN‐rhine)
On the injury front, there is good news out of Dove Valley. According to Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post, defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley was back at practice Thursday, and will hopefully be ready to go in the team's season opener.

Meanwhile, defensive tackles Ty Warren and Marcus Thomas sat out practice and will miss the season opener, along with linebacker D.J. Williams who will miss a few months with an elbow injury.

Monday's game will be nationally televised on ESPN and broadcast locally on the Broncos Radio Network, KOA Radio (850 AM). Kickoff is scheduled for 10:15 pm (ET).

Monday, September 5, 2011

Over 2,000 Tickets Still Available To Broncos' Opener

As of Monday, September 5th, there are 2,226 game tickets still available to the Broncos Monday Night season opener against the Oakland Raiders on our TiqIQ widget. The Broncos will kick off the 2011 season on Monday, September 12th at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium against the rival Raiders, marking the 15th time the team's have faced off on MNF (the longest of such streak).

Tickets to the game are starting at $73, with the average ticket price coming in at $196, an average which is just $9 dollars more than the average price of a ticket to an NFL game this season. Dating back to 2000, the Broncos have won 11 straight home openers, the longest such streak in the NFL.

The game will kickoff the Broncos 52nd season, and could be an historic one. Second overall pick Von Miller (SLB), Rahim Moore (S) and Orlando Franklin (RT) are all expected to start, which would be the first time since 1973 that Denver has opened the season with three rookie starters. Meanwhile, veteran Brian Dawkins, who is entering his 16th season, will be joining Paul Krause and Eugene Robinson as the only other players in league history to play the safety position in 16 NFL seasons.

The Broncos own a 21-27-2 record against the Raiders at home, but have lost the past three and haven't beaten Oakland at home since 2007. Under new Coach John Fox, the team looks to turn that streak around. Denver owns a 20-10-1 Monday Night record at home and are aiming to make it 21-10-1 next week.

The game is sure to be an important one for the Broncos, who are looking to start the year off on the right foot. To see a complete list of tickets available to the game and ticket prices, see our TiqIQ page.

Broncos Busy With Labor Day Weekend Transactions

Happy Labor Day, Broncos Country. We trust you are having a great day, considering the Broncos Monday Night season opener is just one week away!

The Broncos have had a busy weekend with many transactions, kicked off on Saturday when the team released/waived 24 players to reach the 53-man roster. A day later, the team signed former New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Wilhite and waived former second round draft selection Darcel McBath, a fellow defensive back. Finally, the team assembled it's eight-man practice squad.

Quarterback Adam Weber, running back Jeremiah Johnson, wide receiver Eron Riley and safety Kyle McCarthy highlight the squad, with each of the four players coming off stellar preseason performances. The players may practice with the team and can be added to the active roster during the regular season to fill the roster.

For up-to-the-minute updates on every Broncos transaction, 'Like' our Facebook page.