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Denver Broncos @ Arizona Cardinals - A Primer

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Revengeofbirds_thumbs_medium_medium  For thoughts on the game from a Cardinals perspective, visit Revenge of the Birds!! Revengeofbirds_thumbs_medium_medium

The Broncos will close out the 2008 pre-season schedule by traveling to the "big, flying saucer in the desert" to take on the Arizona Cardinals.  Yes, the Broncos will field a team, and yes, there are several jobs up for grabs as we near final roster cuts.  Realistically, however, the Broncos would like nothing more than to get off the bus, get their 60 minutes of football in, and get the hell back to Denver without suffering an injury. 

With injuries all over the NFL, the Broncos have remained relatively healthy - knocking on the biggest piece of wood possible -- and the last thing the Broncos want to have happen is a crucial injury in the 4th pre-season game against a NFC opponent.  No thanks!

Part of me feels the same, looking to avoid a finger strain or Carpal Tunnel, but I'll man up.  This is MHR's last week to get polished up and ready for what is going to be a huge regular season!

The Broncos will end their preseason against the Cardinals for the fifth consecutive year and travel to Arizona after losing 27-24 at home to Green Bay in their most recent action on Aug. 22. Denver starters played only the first two quarters, helping the club to a 17-13 halftime lead and scoring on all three possessions while limiting the Packers to 31 rushing yards on 12 attempts (2.6 avg.).

Denver faces a Cardinals squad that posted a 24-0 victory at Oakland in its last game on Aug. 23. Arizona, which has won its last two games, held the Raiders to 2.9 yards per play (56-165) in earning the shutout win.

In their last nine preseason finales dating back to 1999, the Broncos are 8-1 and have averaged 27.7 points per game. Denver, which has won its last three exhibition finales, owns an average scoring margin of +13.7 in its last preseason contest of the year since the 1999 campaign.

Through the first half of their opening three preseason games, the Broncos have outscored their opponents 38-33 and outgained them 600-467 (+133) yards.  Denver also has posted a 40-28 (+12) lead in first downs and a 52:56-37:04 (+15:52) time-of-possession advantage in the first half this preseason.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has led Denver to points (5 TDs, 1 FG) on six of the 10 drives he has started this preseason while registering the best completion percentage (69.8) and second-best passer rating (117.6) among NFL qualifiers. He has benefited from the pass blocking of a Broncos offensive line that leads the league in fewest sacks allowed (1) and sack percentage per pass play (1.0).  Cutler, himself, has yet to be sacked.

The Broncos' offense also has shown the ability to drive long distances to score touchdowns with the club's six touchdown drives this preseason averaging 75.7 yards.

Defensively, the Broncos rank ninth in the league in both yards per rush (3.5) and rushing yards per game (101.3) allowed.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, did everything in their power to give Matt Leinart the startiing job.  He did everything in his power to give it away and the Cards are going to be forced to start Kurt Warner Week 1.

That probably means we'll see a lot of Lienart this week as the Cardinals try and figure out what the hell is wrong.  Imagine if the Cards had selected Cutler instead of Leinart.  Not to worry, teams like the Cardinals don't make those selections, and now they are staring a huge first round bust right in the face.

Overall, the Broncos are 13-5 against the Cardinals in the Pre-Season, including 5-3 on the road.