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Broncos Continue To Face 'Murder's Row' Of Running Backs

Ok, I think that is enough time off for me.  The baby is doing great, and all is starting the settle down in the Guru household just in time for the Holiday madness to begin.  Also set to begin is the Jay Cutler era in Denver.  We'll talk more about that as the game gets closer, but with the Seahawks coming to town, along with them comes another of the awesome running backs the Broncos have had to deal with the season.  Already filled wit a heavy dose of Larry Johnson and LaDanian Tomlinson twic a year, the Broncos have had the misfortune of an extra dose of the best the NFL has to offer when it comes to running backs, and lately that hasn't been a good thing.  Here are the numbers for the each of the former Pro Bowl running backs the Broncos have had to face this season --

Week 1 - Stephen Jackson(22 - 121, 4 rec - 19) -- The running back caravan started right off the bat during week 1, with the Broncos facing the 14th leading rusher in the league last season.  Jackson did not disappoint, blasting over the 120 yard mark, mostly with the help of a couple long runs.  His 121 yard performance against the Broncos was his best of teh season, and only 1 of 2 100 yard games for Jackson until he equalled it against the 49'ers last week.  Jackson is consistent, however, and is currently 7th in the league.

Week 2 - Larry Johnson(26 - 127, 5 rec - 41) -- Next came Larry Johnson, and another 120+ yard performance.  The Broncos were able to pull the game out in overtime, but Johnson was able to have his way from 20 to 20.  Johnson is having a monster season in 2006, leading the league in rushing while amassing almost 40 more carries than anyone else to this point in the season.  Of course, the Broncos got another batch of Johnson later in the season, and we'll get to that in a moment.

The Broncos defense then stiffened against some weaker opposition, including Dillon and Maroney in New England, the Ravens' Jamal Lewis and Oakland's Lamont Jordan.  It wasn't until Week 9 against the Steelers that the Broncos faced another running back in the top 10.

Week 9 - Willie Parker(14 - 70, 7 rec - 67) -- With the Broncos running out to a 14-0 lead Parker was never able to get going on the ground, though he was able to average 5 yards a carry, and had a big day catching the ball.  Parker currently sits 8th in the league in rushing despite the Steelers' struggles this season.  Though I guess the Broncos were successful in keeping him under the century mark, Parker was able to combine for nearly 140 yards.

More Lamont Jordan followed the Steeler game before the Broncos entered their toughest stretch of the season.

Week 11 - LaDainian Tomlinson(20 - 105, 3 rec - 74) -- It wasn't so much the yardage that killed the Broncos against L.T. and the Chargers, but the 4 TD's really did the Broncos in, along with the big play.  In 5 previous visits to Denver the Broncos had done a great job to hold L.T. down.  Not this time, as Tomlinson got off in the 2nd half when the Chargers needed him the most.  180 combined yards and 4 TDs, accounting for over half of the Chargers brought the Chargers from 17 back in the 2nd half.

Week 12 - Larry Johnson(34 - 157) -- The Chiefs leaned heavily on Johnson with Trent Green still getting up to speed with the offense and LJ did not disappoint.  On his way to breaking every meaningful team rushing record Johnson ran over, around, and through the Broncos defense, and Denver had no answer for Johnson when it mattered the most in the 4th quarter.  All told for the sseason, Johnson carried 60 times for 284 yards.

Week 13 - Shaun Alexander A pretty tough lineup of runners, indeed, but it doesn't get any easier for the Bronco defense.  This week we get Shaun Alexander, the reigning league MVP.  Alexander missed several games with a broken foot, but seems primed and ready after running for over 200 yards on Monday Night.

Week 14 - LaDainian Tomlinson -- After Alexnander, the Broncos get to visit L.T., this time in San Diego.  If the Broncos can't sure up their run defense before then it could be another long day at the office, and another huge day for L.T.

Week 16 - Rudy Johnson -- Sure, I am skipping the Cardinals, but Edgerran James is stil formidable, and if the Broncos aren't careful could surprise them.  Then it's Rudy Johnson and the Bengals who play a style of offense that has really given the Broncos fits this year so far.  Johnson is having another huge season, ranking 9th in the league in rushing heading into this week.

Week 17 - Frank Gore -- Don't laugh just yet.  The 49'ers are alot better than most of us thought, and Gore is the main reason.  Heading into week 13 action, Gore ranks 2nd in the league in rushing, and is averagin an obscene 5.6 ypc.  He sits just 25 yards behind Larry Johnson despite carrying the ball over 60 fewer times.  Needless to say, in a game the Broncos will no doubt need to win Gore and the 49'ers can not be taken lightly.

Overall the Broncos have done a nice job, sitting at 11th in the league against the run.  They have struggled against the top tier backs in the league, however, and if Denver has playoff aspirations the run defense is going to have to rise up and play better or this off-season could start alot sooner than any of us imagined.