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Ultimate Fan: Broncos must contain Aaron Rodgers, avoid mistakes

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Welcome back to a regular football weekend! Except it's anything but regular as the Broncos host the Packers for Sunday Night Football in what should be a spectacular game between two unbeaten teams, two future Hall-of-Fame QBs and two powerful defenses.

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It has been a long two weeks since the Broncos took the field (but thanks to Whorfin for helping us all have a good Bye Week too), and this weekend's game against the Green Bay Packers is going to be a big test.

Whether the Bye Week helped the offense get all its weapons healthy and on the same page and whether the defense is able to keep playing clutch ball will all be revealed soon enough:

Until then, we will let the_prodigal_fan help us understand the keys to this huge game that has all the makings of "epic."

Denver v. Green Bay

MHR - Broncos have had two weeks to rest and get ready for this game. What do you hope the Bye Week helped do for the offense?
My hope is that Manning and the coaches got together and really worked out a plan to get the most out of the offense. What we have been doing has not been working, so ideally, I would like to see whatever changes made that need to be to get the offense to where at least it is no longer a liability.

I still think Manning is done. I do hope I am wrong, though. I would like nothing better than to see him eat defenses for lunch again.   - the_prodigal_fan

MHR - Aside from Manning (we'll get to him!), which players on offense are really the key to beating the Packers' defense this weekend and need to step up?
Wow...you got a week to talk about it? We could start with Demaryius Thomas. He needs to eliminate the drops, ESPECIALLY on easy passes when he is wide open. Or perhaps the O-line. It would sure help if they could consistently open up holes in the running game. C.J., where is that vision and burst we saw last year? I'd like to see that come back. Effective TE play... that would be nice too.

MHR - You've voiced your "panic" over Peyton Manning's play the first six games. After two weeks of more reflection and contemplation, how are you feeling about Manning going into this game?
My opinion has not changed. I still think Manning is done. I do hope I am wrong, though. I would like nothing better than to see him come alive and start eating defenses for lunch again.

MHR - If you're game-planning for these Packers, what will be more important - the running or passing game? More specifically, how do they get past this Packers D, which features big-time defenders like Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix?
I think the running game is crucial. I would like to see some runs to the perimeter as well as some screen plays to the running backs to slow down the pass rush. Screens to running backs in space will open things up some and keep the defense honest. Basically, get the running backs (especially Hillman) out into open space with the ball. One of the biggest problems from my perspective that this offense has had, is that defenses have not had to respect the running game and have pinned their ears back to rush the passer, even when not blitzing. Getting effective running and successfully making some passes in the screen game (and NOT the bubble screens to the wide receivers. Memo to the coaching staff: THOSE DON'T WORK ANYMORE!!) will slow down the pass rush and give Manning a little more room to work.

MHR - What do you think is Kubiak's best solution overall for making this Broncos' offense good enough to pair with its defense (which is really dang awesome) and have the most success this season?
His best option is to address the passing offense in one of two ways - either give Manning the reins and let him run the offense in the way he is most comfortable, or give Brock a chance.
I don't know which of those options would be the better one. That largely depends on Manning. If he DOES still have the ability to perform at a high level in his offense, then the obvious answer is Manning. If he doesn't have the ability any longer, then the answer may be Brock. I think it is safe to say that everyone here knows my opinion on the matter, but my opinion is not the one that matters. We just have to hope that Kubes makes the correct choice, regardless of what that happens to be.

MHR - Who could be more dangerous to the Broncos defense - Aaron Rodgers + Jones/Cobb or Eddie Lacy?
The answer is Aaron Rodgers. We have already faced some of the best running backs in the league, and we have contained them. Lacy is good, but not on the level of an AP. Rodgers, on the other hand, is arguably the best QB in the league right now. You can lose a lot of money betting against him.

MHR - And what about a couple of players we don't talk about a lot but who have had some big plays lately like Ty Montgomery or Jeff Janis. Can our secondary keep up with all of Rodgers' weapons?
The short answer is yes, our secondary can keep up. We are fortunate to possess one of the best and deepest secondaries in the league. We may give up an occasional play, especially from our No. 3 or No. 4 cornerbacks, but I like our secondary against any wide receiver group in the NFL. We may not stop them completely, but we will limit their damage. I have no doubt of that.

MHR - Which group of Broncos' players do you think will really need to be on the top of their game to stop the Packers on Sunday night?
Our linemen, on both sides of the ball. This game will be won or lost in the trenches. It may be a cliché, but that is because it's true. Our secondary will keep a lid on the Packers' receivers, so the key to stopping their offense is going to be containing the running game and putting pressure on Rodgers. On the other side of the ball, if our O-line plays well, we will see success in the running game and more time for Manning in the pocket.

The way I see this game playing out is the defense keeping it tight, with the offense being the deciding factor. Avoid the mistakes and turnovers, kick field goals rather than punts. We do those, and we win this game.  -the_prodigal_fan

MHR - This is clearly going to be the best offensive test for our highly ranked defense. Do you think the defense will be able to shut down Rodgers and Co.?
Shut down? I would have to say probably not. But contain, certainly. The way I see this game playing out is the defense keeping it tight, keeping us close, with the offense being the deciding factor one way or the other. Avoid the mistakes and turnovers that we saw before the bye, and kick field goals rather than punts. We do those things and we win this game. I don't know that we even have to score TDs to win. As long as we can get close enough for McManus, and avoid turning the ball over, I think that will be enough to win it for us.

MHR - Brandon "McMoney" has now missed a field goal but added two game-winners this month. How much of a factor do you anticipate him being for the Broncos this weekend?
Huge. Our red zone struggles this year are well-documented, but as I said above, if we can avoid the costly turnovers, we should be able to get close enough often enough for McManus to win this game for us.

MHR - Aside from the many storylines that go along with this matchup, one of the best will be the induction of Pat Bowlen to the Ring of Fame. Describe what you think he has done for this franchise.
You cannot overstate the importance of Pat Bowlen to the Broncos organization. He took a team that had one Super Bowl appearance in its entire existence, to go along with years of terrible play, and turned it into a premier franchise that has been a consistent contender pretty much since he bought the team. And that doesn't even address what he has done for the Denver community. It is not an exaggeration to call Pat Bowlen one of the best owners in professional sports.

Predictions

Stats for Manning? 35 passes, 225 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT

Number of yards rushing for running backs? Anderson, 60 yards; Hillman, 65; Thompson 10.

Which receiver gets the most yards? I'm going to go with DT. This is likely going to be a close game, and the trend has been that DT has been the guy late, and he has been getting some yards - 10 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD

Number of sacks to Manning? 3

Number of sacks on Aaron Rodgers? 6

Broncos player with the most sacks? Von Miller

Broncos player with the most tackles? Brandon Marshall

Number of penalties on the Broncos offense/defense? 2/5

Number of field goals/longest by McMoney? 4 FGs, long of 55 yards

Final Score? Denver Broncos 26, Green Bay Packers 17

The Favorites

  • Favorite Broncos jersey? That's not a simple question. Favorite jersey I own now - Elway. Jersey for old school player I wish I had - Atwater. Jersey for current player I wish I had - Chris Harris, Jr.
  • Favorite thing about this historic matchup? Two unbeatens. This will be a great test for our whole team.
  • Favorite thing about Packers' fans? They're not Chiefs fans.
  • Broncos player you'd most like to have dinner with? Peyton Manning. I think he would be great company and very funny.
  • Favorite memory about Pat Bowlen? "This one's for John!"