Who else thinks that Bye Week lasted almost as long as the offseason?
Phew, it's good to be back talking Broncos football, and this week's Ultimate Fan via the Southwest - mdlpoet of New Mexico - sees this game as the one our team finally shows its 'cards' as the dominant team in the NFL (see what I did there?)
Side note: our Southwest friend will have your mouth watering for some green chilé at the end, so you may just want to go ahead and get a plate of nachos while you read!
Now to the good stuff...
Denver Broncos v. Arizona Cardinals:
MHR - Both the Denver Broncos and Arizona Cardinals are coming off a bye for this week's matchup. The Broncos had a close loss to the Seahawks and the Cardinals had a somewhat surprising win over the 49ers before the bye. How do you think that third game and the bye week will affect each team (positive and/or negative) for this game?
mdlpoet - While I am not discounting the Cardinals, nobody really expected them to be 3-0 at this point. And I know the Cardinals are not satisfied with their 3-0 start, but this game means more to the Broncos.
Let's be honest here, Denver has yet to put together a complete game this season. We know it, and the team knows it. Their performance has been uneven at best. As many have stated, this bye week came at the best possible time for the Broncos. I believe on Sunday we are going to see an angry and focused Denver team on both sides of the ball. We are finally going to see the "edge" many of us have been hoping to see so far this season.
MHR - What improvements are you hoping to see from the Broncos in this game?
mdlpoet - Well, the obvious answer here is the running game. I am not looking for this team to lead the league in rushing, but more so for an effective rushing attack. By this I mean a running attack that can pick up at least 4 yards on first down; a running attack that can pick up a 3rd and 1, or 2, or 3. Whether it is horrible run blocking or Montee Ball or the play calling, these continious 2nd/3rd and longs are killing this offense. It changes the play calling. It keeps Manning and the other skill players from finding a rhythm.
On the defensive side of the ball we need to see improvement in our third-down defense. I know we looked better at Seattle, but it's imperative for this team to get the ball back in Manning's hands.
MHR - The Cardinals sit atop the NFC West at 3-0 and several analysts believe they are the team to beat in that division, which includes Seattle and San Francisco. Would agree (or not) and what makes them so tough (or not) this year?
mdlpoet - At the end of the day I still think this is Seattle's division. Even though the Cardinals won in the Clink last year, that is still one tough place to play. It is the best home field advantage in sports. And Russell Wilson is better than Drew Stanton or Carson Palmer. He is a very intelligent quarterback, and the Seattle staff has designed the perfect offense for his skill set. Even though the 49ers came away with a big win this past Sunday, I still believe they have regressed some.
I look for Arizona to finish second in the division and secure a wild card spot this season.
Broncos enter Sunday's game with a 9-2 record after their bye week since '03. Denver has won four in a row after the bye.— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) October 1, 2014
MHR - Which players on our offense really need to step up this game to avoid an offensive panic late in the game?
mdlpoet - Montee Ball and the offensive line. While our O-line has looked pretty dominant in pass protection, the same cannot be said for run blocking. This team needs to open up some holes in the run game on Sunday, and Montee needs to find those holes. I know it's a tough task against the Arizona defense, but this run game needs to find some traction on Sunday.
Also, Demaryius Thomas needs to have a solid to great game on Sunday simply for his confidence. He realizes he isn't playing well this season, and he needs to show up in a big way on Sunday. He most likely will be going up against Peterson but I believe he has the size, speed, and skill to have a big game. And his two-point conversion against Seattle was a thing of beauty, was it not?
MHR - The Arizona Cardinals lost DT Darnell Dockett to injury but have gotten some serious production from veteran DE Tommy Kelly, who was cut by the Patriots days before the Cardinals snagged him. And defensive coordinator Todd Bowles likes to blitz on third downs and use the double (and triple) A-gap blitz. How much trouble do you think this defense could mean for our potentially awesome but so far struggling offense?
mdlpoet - As much as they have struggled in run blocking this season, our O-line has looked pretty stout in pass protection. I believe the only sack Seattle had was a miscommunication play were Manning just ate the ball to avoid a bigger mistake.
In my opinion, Ryan Clady has returned to top LT form. And we all know how good Manning is against the blitz and how quickly he gets the ball out. The Arizona blitz better get to Manning in two seconds or he will destroy it. Look for Sanders and DT to exploit their speed across the middle to attack the blitz.
MHR - Carson Palmer was thought to be the starter this week after missing the last two games for a shoulder/nerve injury but that appears questionable now. What do you think it will mean for our defense to finally have a more pocket passing QB? Should our defensive game plan be any different if Drew Stanton ends up playing?
mdlpoet - No, I don't believe the game plan should change. Palmer might take more or bigger risks than Stanton, but both seem to be the traditional pocket passer. They do have some mobility but nothing compared to the last three guys we played against. I see the Broncos generating lots of pressure this Sunday. Von and Ware are going to dominate, and Arizona cannot double team both of them. Terrance Knighton has played extremley well this season as well and will be tough to beat.
MHR - Cardinals' coach Bruce Arians is known for an aggressive but balanced offense. How do you think our defense - which has proved its toughness in the previous three games but struggles against a run attack - will match up to this offense where three receivers have shown great numbers and the running attack has been above average.
mdlpoet - I believe this is the week we see Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware dominate. Von looked awesome at times on Sunday. He has shown improvement in each and every game and is getting more comfortable coming off of his ACL injury. You can see his confidence growing.
Speaking of growing confidence, you can see the confidence of the entire defense growing with each other.
Also, the Broncos will finally see a more traditional pocket passer this week. While Arizona's blitz better find Manning in two seconds, the reverse is true for the Arizona offense. Palmer/Stanton better get the ball out in two seconds or less, or it could prove to be a long day for any Arizona quarterback. And against our secondary, that could be a tough mountain to climb. Aqib Talib has been very impressive. Chris Harris, Jr. has looked good, and as his confidence grows, he is only going to get better.
|Ultimate Fan||Peyton Manning stats||TDs||# yards by RBs||WR with most yards||# sacks by Broncos D||# sacks by Cardinals D||Most tackles by Broncos player||Broncos player with most INTs||# penalties by Broncos||Final score|
|mdlpoet||31-39, 360 yards||4||110 yards||Emmanuel Sanders||6||1||T.J. Ward||Aqib Talib – finally gets his Pick 6||5/35||38-13 Broncos|
We finally see a complete Bronco performance this week. Sorry Bradfather, not trying to disrespect the Cards here; I just believe if we play to our full potential the game will not be that close.
Peyton Manning threw his 400th TD pass in September of 2012. His next TD pass will be his 500th. That .. is absolutely ridiculous— trey wingo (@wingoz) October 1, 2014
Favorite team to watch the Broncos play? I just love to watch the Broncos play no matter who the opponent is.
Team you most hate for the Broncos to lose to? The Raiders and Patriots (I suppose you can add the Chiefs to that list since the Chief fan invasion of last year)
Favorite Broncos player on the current roster? In a shout out to my 8-year-old son, I will say DT...with Manning a close second, of course.
Favorite Broncos player of all time? I was 8 years old when I watched a certain Broncos quarterback lead his team 98 yards down the field and snatch victory from defeat. I have been a Broncos fan ever since that day, so of course I have to say John Elway.
Best Broncos game ever played? A two-game tie, and they came just three weeks apart - Jan. 4, 1998 when Denver beat Kansas City on the road. That day I knew we would be Super Bowl champs. Then Jan. 25, 1998, as Pat Bowlen declared "This one's for John," I shed a tear.
How you felt after the Broncos lost to the Seahawks in the game before the bye week? Angry, yet encouraged. For our defense to pick up Manning and keep us in a game, that encouraged me. I was angry because I hate losing, especially to a team that had no fans until Super Bowl Sunday this past season.
Favorite thing to eat during a game? Green chilé. Just so you guys know, our traditional football food here in New Mexico includes green chilé - and lots of it! Green chilé chicken enchiladas, homemade rellenos, tacos, burritos. It might not be the same entrée every Sunday, but you know green chilé is going to be front and center.