Since blowing out the Green Bay Packers three weeks ago, the Denver Broncos defense has struggles to stem the tide of points, but last week against the Kansas City Chiefs that was an impossible task with Peyton Manning giving the other team the ball on the wrong side of the field four times.
Brock Osweiler is now starting of the Broncos as they head to the Windy City to face the Chicago Bears in sub zero temperatures. This could have been a disaster for Manning with his nerve issues, so perhaps the Broncos got lucky to have Osweiler getting his first start in the frozen and windy conditions at Soldier Field.
As usual, our staff here at Mile High Report will offer up their predictions, but be sure to vote in the predictions widget below and let us know in the comments how you see this game shaking out for the Broncos.
Broncos 26, Bears 16 - Tim Lynch
For me, I just can't stop holding out belief that this offense is going to start clicking. There is just too much talent for it to suck so bad like he has all season long. I kept believing Peyton would figure things out and rediscover some of his past glory, but now I'm wondering if perhaps he truly is done as an NFL quarterback. No one defeats Father Time.
Now my hope has turned to Brock Osweiler. The Broncos are truly at a crossroads and no one really knows for sure if Osweiler is a legitimate starting quarterback. We can believe and hope is, but the truth will begin to be unveiled on Sunday.
The reason I think the Broncos win this game handily is because Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson find their running lanes for big days. I'm going to attribute this to Osweiler's ability to open things up with the play action and bootleg pass plays. The weather might be a factor, but I'm going to have to go with the Broncos by ten here.
Broncos 31, Bears 12 - Pete Baron
The defense is fired the F up to have hope again on offense. Or have you not heard Von Miller talking about just that? Chad Brown said that the Broncos defense and offense are about to have locker room issues with each other because of the horrible play of the offense. The defense is sick and tired of busing their butts and having zero help. It seemed like the average starting position of Kansas City was already in field goal range, so the defense was doomed either way. Insert new hope.
What will Brock do? Well, Von Miller seems to think Brock is going to Brock and Roll. The WRs do as well. I expect Brock to have great chemistry with Latimer who might be in for Sanders, so look for Latimer to have a few more targets and catches this week. Maybe even a score. Look for our running game to be slightly better than the last few weeks, but not a whole lot better unless the Bears defense is really that bad. Brocks stat line? 200 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, and 1-0 on his "win/loss" record which I still hate using because that's a team stat.
I have the Broncos making John Fox look like John Fox; grossly overrated and out of his depth. Look for the defense to play with more fire because of renewed hope. Look for the offense to have more smiles on their faces because of the new hope. I want to see Sanders' smile back, if only from the sideline (injury).
Ian Henson's Prediction?
The Broncos defense will face the offensive coordinator that left Denver and took the offense (and essentially Peyton Manning) with him. Will the storyline be that John Fox was unceremoniously fired by the team or that he abandoned them the week of the most important game of the season? Does Jay Cutler even care at this point? Gone are most of the former Broncos from the Mike Shanahan era. Denver's defensive personnel is essentially the same, except Darian Stewart is at safety instead of Rahim Moore.
Then there is the actual story, Brock Osweiler in his first start in the last four seasons and first as a professional. The weather in Chicago is scheduled to be a sunny 30° with wind bouncing between 12 and 13 mile per hour with 0% chance of precipitation.
Whatever the fine people at CBS Sports decide to make the narrative, Osweiler literally controls it at this point and he's got one heck of a trial by fire coming his way. Facing his former head coach and offensive coordinator, he essentially is Jay Cutler when Cutler took over, expect Osweiler's stepping into the shoes of Manning, not Jake Plummer. Get through all of that and Denver gets to come home to Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots. Each of those teams that he will face in the next two weeks know where all of the bodies are buried.
I will be pleasantly surprised if Osweiler doesn't painfully struggle by about mid-way through the game. Keep in mind that Adam Gase was one of the coaches that the Broncos did not hire en route to naming Gary Kubiak the head coach. Gase has rejuvenated Cutler's career, made Jeremy Langford look like the second coming of Walter Peyton and left scorched earth with a bunch of wide receivers that you cannot name.
Then there is Denver's defense that steadily handed Gase humble pie every day in practice for years. This is a title fight, do not let the records fool you. The Broncos are in for it and so are the Bears. As few games as Peyton Manning lost over his time as Denver's quarterback, John Fox shares in nearly all of them. Fox has led Chicago to a place in the season where they are on a two game winning streak and three games out of first place in the NFC North (and two behind the Green Bay Packers).
And you think Osweiler's the story...
Broncos 35, Bears 23 - Jon Heath
Brock Osweiler has big showing against a poor Chicago secondary and helps the Broncos to a 35-23 victory that signals the start of a new era in Denver.
Broncos 21, Bears 17 - Kyle Montgomery
LOL at Ian's prediction vs. Jon's.
Broncos 20, Bears 17 - Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann
With a spark behind center in Brock Osweiler and a D reeling from having 29 points scored on it (thanks in big part to the excellent starting field position of the Chiefs), this Broncos team will not allow itself to lose. It's hard to predict how Osweiler will do for an entire game against a team highly motivated to win, but I feel good that he can handle the pressure and will be more than competent as QB1. His poise and maturity in last week's game - as well as all week in practices and in front of the press - bode well not just for this game but the tough ones coming up quickly.
First thing Osweiler did after nod for the start was ask Knapp what a defense would do against a guy getting his first NFL start.— L.Lattimore-Volkmann (@docllv) November 18, 2015
Broncos 24, Bears 13 - Sadaraine
This team needs a spark, and that spark one way or the other is Brock Osweiler. I can't believe that this spark is going to start a dumpster fire (sorry KC fans...that was a one-week event just for you last week). The offense will be solid with a few great plays and a couple of complete biffs. The defense is going to stay rested, hungry, and aggressive. Chicago doesn't have an offense that has strengths in the short passing game that has been doing damage to us lately. We should be able to create turnovers and get to Cutler early and often.
Broncos 27, Bears 10 - Scotty Payne
I think we'll see some good things and bad things from Brock this week. We need to be patient with the young quarterback. This is his first career start, it's on the road, and against coaches who probably know him better than the Broncos current coaches. With that said, I see Brock having a successful first outing. I'd say about 200 yards, 2 TDs and a interception. I'm expecting the run game to be successful this week as well. Look for Anderson, not Hillman to lead the team in rushing.
The defense will have a couple turnovers off Cutler, and look for a Von Miller strip sack as well.