This Sunday we get to face off against the 2-1 Minnesota Vikings at our house. Our opponent started the year off with a stinker, but has looked very solid in their last two games. They have arguably the best running back in the game in Adrian Peterson and a very tough defense.
Broncos Offense vs Minnesota Defense
In the trenches
The bad news here is that we are matched up against a very tough defensive line and we have Evan Mathis and Ty Sambrailo on the injury report. One or both of those guys may not be able to play on Sunday. The good news is our line has looked somewhat poor overall and changes to back ups may not even be noticeable. Look for our line to have a lot of trouble this week with challenges at the tackles especially.
The running game
I don't think this is the week that we see vast improvement in this area...and by vast improvement I mean getting a 3.5 ypc average. Because that would be a vast improvement. I want you to sit with that a minute.
Yeah. Our running game won't get chugging until we do one of the two following things:
- Design and call more outside running plays that put back in position to make the plays happen instead of requiring multiple linemen to win their battles.
- Start winning the battles up front consistently.
Don't hold your breath, Broncos Country. We'll run the ball this week and probably be as unimpressive as ever unless someone really breaks out in a big way.
The passing game
Peyton Manning has already proven that he doesn't need a great line in order to get points on the board. He gets the ball out so fast that the linemen really don't have that tough of a job.
Minnesota does have some very good players on the back end. I don't expect to get out of this game without giving up an interception to their secondary. If DT brings it though, there is no one on their team that stop him and I'd like to see us go his way often early to open the rest of the field up.
Broncos Defense vs Offense
In the trenches
I love our line against theirs in this game. We have better guys at every spot down the line in my opinion than they have. We should be able to win the trenches consistently all game long. This is a game where normally I'd think we'd miss Derek Wolfe, but our backups have been doing a pretty fair game so far this season.
The running game
If you aren't worried about AP in this game, then you don't pay attention to football outside of Denver much. Even with a shaky line in front of him, AP is the kind of player that can make something big out of nothing. The other thing I don't like much here is that to date our scheme under Wade Phillips is very aggressive and AP is the kind of back who makes you pay for being too aggressive.
I don't think we'll be impervious to big plays in the running game. But we will stop them often enough to make them have to pass and that's where our defense should shine. I'd also be willing to bet we'll see our defense in their base 3-4 more often than we have been so far this season (last week especially we were in nickel and dime almost exclusively).
The passing game
I love our guys against Minnesota here. Bridgewater is a good young quarterback and I like his potential a lot. That potential doesn't mean much in today's game though. He's going to be really put through the fire in this game and I don't see how he's going to be able to do much against us by throwing the ball.
When you look a the match ups outside, they don't have the kind of WRs nor the depth to be able to truly threaten our secondary. We should be able to lock down the outside and deep areas of the field. Look for Minnesota try to isolate short inside routes much like we saw from Detroit. That's where they will at least be able to make some completions.
We're at Mile High. I in every way love our kicking game over Minnesota outside of their kickoff returner. Patterson for Minnesota consistently gets a very good return average. We'll want to make sure to consistently kick it out of the back of the end zone so that he gets no such opportunity this week.
McManus on paper looks in every way better than Walsh. Special Teams this week should not be a negative factor for us and that in my books is a very good thing.
Denver could absolutely lose this game...that looks like a 200+ yard game from Peterson and our defense getting manhandled up front. I don't see that happening, though. I think we'll see a lot of our base personnel package and designs in place to keep their running game bottled up. I also think we'll get good production out of our passing game.
Meaningless prediction: Denver 31, Minnesota 17
Hit up the comments with your thoughts on the game. What do you see in Minnesota that we should keep an eye on? Are we going to see something new out of our offense this week?