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.

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