Sunday - Oct. 2, 2011
4:15 PM EDT
Lambeau Field, Green Bay
Here are the Denver Broncos, with a 1-2 record so far, after losing for the Tennesse Titans on a game we had good chances to win. Now we need to move on and think about our next game, which is a very hard one since we are going to face what I think is the best team of the league: the Green Bay Packers, away. I can see other strong teams fighting for their place in the sun, but for me they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl... again.
Follow me after the jump and let's think together on what are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to have a fair shot against the Packers.
Offense key match-up: Orlandro Franklin vs Clay Matthews
Looking at the depth chart of the Packers, I can easily close my eyes and remember our two Super Bowls team. Actually, after an article wrote by Flunkie HERE, I watched that game again when we defeated GB. I never have enough of seeing Eddy's pancake and The Helicopter! We were so strong that I couldn't even imagine how the opposite teams were supposed to game plan to beat us. The time passed, and we are now on the other side. We see a great roster in front of us, and we need to game plan to beat it.
It's a very difficult mission to accomplish, but I realyze that it starts by Orlando Franklin having an extraordinary game. He is a rookie who can make great pushes for our running game, but still lacks in pass protection althought a good upside on it. That's why I have absolutely no doubt that they will align Clay Matthews in front of him 90% of the snaps, letting our best OT (Ryan Clady) facing Erik Walden on the other side. Woundering this complete scene in our minds, we can realyze the tragedy that we'll be submitted if Franklin plays in a bad day.
Clay Matthews, the 1st rounder that McDaniels passed to get Robert Ayers in 2009, amasses 123 tackles, 24.5 sacks, 1 interception, 3 forced fumbles and 1 touchdown scored in 2 seasons and 3 games playing for Green Bay. The biggest problem is that we can't feel safe on double teaming him, because AJ Hawk and Desmond Bishop are very good when rushing the passer up the middle. Are Zane Beadles and JD Walton good enough to contain those attacks? I don't think so... We have to double team their defensive linemen before thinking on double their edge rushers... Thus, If Kyle doesn't get sacked a lot of times, he will at least see the pocket collapsing very often in front of him.
My conclusion: I can't see our offense doing a good job on sunday. Not only because of our weakness itself, but because it matches exactly the Packers strenghness, just like it was on the season opener. We can't expect to see Kyle with plenty of time to pass, well protected by the pocket, and we all know what he can do on those situations (nay what he can't do). As I don't think we can establish an effective running game, we just need to hope that we can have some good plays and try to score in all the oportunities we may have.
On the offense side of the ball, the Packers are also a very strong team. Aaron Rodgers is an elite QB, and can remains very calm on the pocket due to a great pass protection from his offensive line; the running game is a decent one, and James Starks will be their man in charge since Ryan Grant is injured again; their corp of WRs have huge names such as Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, Jordy Nelson... and also Jermichael Finley is a top-tier TE (probably playing agaisnt us, but not confirmed) who can catch very well.
With all those strong points, if the Broncos really want to have a chance of stopping the Packers, it's by pressuring Aaron Rodgers. It's a really hard task but on sunday they will have a weak link for us to explore. Bryan Bulaga, a 1st rounder starting RT suffered a knee sprain and bruise on their game against the Chicago Bears and will miss a game or two. For his spot, the Packers will plug Marshall Newhouse. The 5th rounder RT (#169 pick overall in 2010) missed his entire first season because of a back injury. He was put on IR since he was going to miss their 14 first games. Now he is back and got a few reps on their 3 games so far. It's a very interesting stuff that despite of the situation of the teams, we will both start a rookie at RT, and we must target theirs to reach Aaron Rodgers and at least hurry him, perhaps making a few hits and causing a turnover.
We have seen Von Miller playing a really high level football for the Broncos. If we can game plan to get many a man-2-man match-up beetwen Miller and the unexperienced RT, we have good chances to rush the passer and maybe force one or two turnovers. The bad news is that Rodgers has a very quick release plus a great reading of the field. So just rushing him is not enough... our secondary can't be burned several times like it was against the Titans, and it scares me a lot.
My conclusion: It's a little refreshing don't have to worry about the opposite rushing game. But, as we are facing one of the bests passing games of the NFL, we will have a hard work on sunday. I just expect the Broncos to don't be hammered and keep a low score.
With all this in mind, I think we don't have many chances to beat the Green Bay Packers. However, football is not that predictable and a lot of things can happen and help us. And you folks, what do you think are the offense and defense key match-ups for us to face the Packers properly? Do you think we can come back from Lambeau Field with a 2-2 record?