Early Bird Breakdown Week 8 – Green Bay Packers @ Denver Broncos
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown coming off of the bye week. Since there was no action last week, let’s go straight into this week’s game.
Packers’ Offense vs Broncos’ Defense:
Aaron Rodgers’ and the Packers offense take on their biggest test of the season against the number one defense in the league in the Denver Broncos. Denver’s defense has no holes, ranking number one in pass defense (giving up only 192.2 yards per game) and fourth against the run (89.2 yards per game).
Denver has two Pro-Bowl caliber corners on the outside in Aqib Talib & Calvin Harris. That tandem has been the biggest reason Denver has been the top pass defense as they have been smothering receivers this season. Not only do they have a pair of talented corners, they also have a pair of talented pass rushing linebackers in Von Miller and Demarcus Ware causing havoc up front.
Having said that…the best offense the Broncos have played has been the Oakland Raiders. The Packers have scored 24 or more points in all but one game this season. While Rodgers and the Packers’ receivers have been a little out of sync lately, Davante Adams is making his return and should bolster this aerial attack. While Denver’s defense has been fantastic this season and will be backed by the home crowd, Green Bay is balanced enough to move the ball on them. This defense is incredible but not all-time great, and Green Bay should be able to get enough points to win.
Packers’ Defense vs Broncos’ Offense:
This side of the ball is where the Packers have their real advantage. Denver is 29th in the league in offense and Peyton Manning has had a really rough year. He has only seven touchdowns to ten interceptions and has no velocity on his throws. His new head coach, Gary Kubiak, is not helping him either. The only flashes where Manning has looked good were when he was running the old, “Peyton Manning Offense,” calling audibles and moving around the players on offense. That does not mesh with Gary Kubiak’s offense, where he calls a run-first style that does not audible from the play frequently. This has led Denver to the 29th ranked pass offense and it has not been pretty.
Even worse than their passing attack is their rushing attack despite the emphasis on it from the coach. They rank 31st in overall rushing yards per game. The biggest culprit for these struggles have been an incredibly shaky offensive line. They struggle blocking and Denver’s offense has had to been repeatedly bailed out by their defense.
Clay Matthews should have a field day against this offensive line. The Packers have one of the best front sevens at getting to the quarterback with Mike Daniels, Matthews, and Julius Peppers. With no escapability and multiple lame-duck throws from Manning, the ball hawking corners of Green Bay should generate good field position for Rodgers to take advantage.
The weather looks to be a cool 54 degrees at kickoff with 0% chance of rain and very light winds. However, Denver being up in the mountains means there will be less air, which lets balls travel further and makes breathing harder, giving the Broncos a slight edge as they are used to the conditions.
Green Bay and Denver are both coming off their bye week in time for a big clash of 6-0 teams. Head coach Mike McCarthy historically has always had the Packers ready to go after their bye. McCarthy is 8-1 and his last loss was in 2008 in Tennessee. While Denver is also coming off a bye, no one outside of Bill Belichick is better coming off a bye than McCarthy, and this should give the Packers an advantage. Denver has had to rely multiple times this season on key defensive touchdowns to get them to victory and have only one win in double digit figures. The Packers do not make enough mistakes for Denver’s defense to capitalize on and Green Bay’s defense will not miss the opportunities for turnovers the Broncos will give them. The game will likely be close throughout, but Green Bay’s defense will hold Denver down and Rodgers will not let the Broncos’ defense get free points. Final score 27-17 Green Bay over Denver.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University