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Broncos vs Cowboys: Five Keys To The Game

Dustin Bradford

Last week the Broncos defeated Chip Kelly, and the Eagles, and moved to 4-0 on the season. This sunday they head down to Jerry World to take on Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. Lets take a look at five things to keep an eye on while you watch the game.

1. Clark vs Ware:

Chris Clark has been doing an outstanding job replacing Ryan Clady, but faces his toughest test so far this season. Demarcus Ware Is one of if not the best pass rushers in the league. It will be up Chris Clark to keep Ware from hitting Manning. If Clark struggles It could be a long day for the Broncos offense, and could spell trouble later in the year. I'd look for Knowshon Moreno to be back there to help Clark block Ware. I would also expect Tight Ends Thomas, Green and Dreessen to help Clark out as well.

Here's what Head Coach John Fox had to say about Ware, and the Cowboys defensive front.

"Their front four in particular is probably as good as we’ve played to date," John Fox said. "They’ll create some problems, not just DeMarcus—the whole front four is pretty good."

Quarterback Peyton Manning also had some nice things to say about the Cowboys defensive front.

"They have a really good defensive front—those two guys especially," Manning said of Ware and Hatcher. "They’re good players. It’s pretty impressive with the injuries they’ve had with the defensive line, how well they’ve continued to play. It speaks to their depth. They’ve always played a number of guys, rotated in. That’s impressive, they’ve had I think three significant injuries, yet they’re still creating a lot of sacks and are disruptive against the run."

So it will be a good test for the Broncos. If they fair well, it will give the team confidence before their matchups against the tough Chiefs front seven.

2. Covering Witten:

Jason Witten will be a tough matchup for the Broncos Sunday. It will take a collective effort from the Broncos defense to slow down Witten. If Danny Trevathan is good to go Sunday, I would expect to see him on Witten a lot. I would expect to see Wesley Woodyard, Chris Harris, and Duke Ihenacho to be on Witten as well.

Here's what Broncos Safety Rahim Moore had to say about Witten

"He catches everything," Moore said of Witten. "He reminds me of Tim Duncan. You look up and the dude has 10-12 catches, easily. He runs precise routes, he knows the game. He and Romo have a great rapport, you can tell. He does everything right."

Witten on the year has 21 receptions for 192 yards, and two touchdowns. Witten is averaging about 5 catches for 48 yards a game. If the Broncos could hold Witten to that stat line I would be happy.

3. The Health Of Champ Bailey, DRC vs Dez?:

The Broncos defense has survived without their future Hall Of Famer Cornerback through the first four games of the season, but Sunday the Broncos defense will be going up against Dez Bryant. If the Broncos can get a healthy Champ Bailey out there to cover Bryant I'm sure they would be happy. However after Thursday's practice Champ didn't seem to confident about his status for Sundays game. When asked about his foot Bailey said

"feeling better than I did this time last week."

When asked about his status for Sunday Bailey said...

"It's up in the air," Bailey said. "I don't think I'll make a decision today, but I am progressing and getting better and getting more confident about the things I can do on the field."

If Bailey cannot go, look for Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to take on Dez Bryant on Sunday.

4. Peyton Manning against the Dallas Secondary, Cowboys not scared of Manning?:

On Sunday Peyton Manning will look to add to his impressive 2013 stat line. Through four games Manning has 1,470 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 0 Interceptions. It will be up to the Dallas secondary to try to slow down Manning, and force him into throwing his first interception on the year. Unfortunately for the Cowboys they rank 27th in league in defending the pass. They're giving up an average of 304.5 yards per game through the air, and Eli Manning and Phillip Rivers both topped 400 yards against the Cowboys. Last week Chargers Quarterback Phillip Rivers completed 35 of 42(83.3%) passes setting an NFL record for completion percentage against this Dallas secondary.

In comes Manning, D. Thomas, Welker, Decker, and J. Thomas. Cowboys defensive coordinator chuckled to reporters this week saying "That's not good" about facing Manning, and the Broncos in the wake of Phillip Rivers performance against them last week.

Some Cowboys reportedly do not fear Manning, and the Broncos offense. Defensive Tackle Jason Hatcher had this to say about Manning...

"Don't think for one minute we're scared," Hatcher told reporters. "We ain't scared of nobody. I don't really care who it is. They're going to make plays. Any team can make plays against you. We just have to play 60 minutes of football, very sound football against a great quarterback. We have respect for him, but at the end of the day, they got to have respect for us as well. We're not a pushover team at all. We're definitely ready to play."

The Broncos offense is averaging 483 yards a game, and 44.8 points per game, so we'll see If Hatcher and company is scared after Sundays game.

5. Stopping DeMarco Murray:

If the Cowboys want to stop the Broncos Sunday, and keep Manning off the field it will be up to running back DeMarco Murray. On the year Murray ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards with 356. Murray is averaging a very good 4.9 yards per carry this year. Here's a intriguing note. When Murray carries the ball 20 times or more, the Cowboys have won every game dating back to his rookie season. In Dallas's two losses this year Murray has carried the ball 12 times, and 14 times. So keep the Ball out of Murray's hands, and the Broncos win.

Another thing going against Murray, and the Cowboys is the Denver Broncos number one ranked rushing defense. The Broncos are only giving up 74 yards a game on the ground. They're holding opposing running backs to 3.2 yards per attempt on the ground. The Broncos have faced some top tier rushing attacks as well. Week one the Broncos faced Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce, Week three they faced Terrell Pryor and Darren McFadden, and last weekend faced Shady McCoy and Mike Vick. This weekend will be another tough test for the Broncos defense.