You can feel it in the air, and you’re not quite sure what that means.
This is one of those games for the Denver Broncos. Everyone knows they should handle the New York Giants in all facets of Sunday night’s game. That explains why the 3-1 Broncos opened as heavy favorites, and even that’s an understatement. The Giants have no receivers, their quarterback had tests on his neck and they’re 0-5. Oh, and Denver is 15-4 at home coming off the bye.
When you look at the statistics it’s a wonder the NFL will even play the game on Sunday.
New York Giants: 19th in overall offense (326.4 yards), 30th in rushing (77.8), ninth in passing (258) and 28th in points (16.4).
Denver: 13th in overall offense (341.3 yards), 3rd in rushing (143), 24th in passing (198.3) and 11th in points (24.5).
New York Giants: 26th in overall defense (363.8 yards), 29th in rushing (139), 16th in passing (224.8) and 24th in points (24.4).
Denver: First in overall defense (260.8 yards), first in rushing (50.8), 11th in passing (210) and 7th in points (18.5).
If you just said, “I feel a ‘but’ coming,” you’re right.
But this is one of those games the Broncos find a way to lose. Despite all the advantages and reasons they should win this game, you can feel it in the air. And if we feel it, rest assured Denver’s players and coaches do as well.
Here are the keys to victory for the Broncos on Sunday to improve to 4-1 and avoid a huge upset.
Take care of business in practice
Vance Joseph made it clear what he thinks the key is to Sunday’s game.
“The message to our team is to do more,” he said. “We want more effort, more focus, more detail and more commitment. That’s our message. As we move through the season, hopefully with success — as we have success, we want to do more to keep our edge, so to speak. That’s our message after the bye. Let’s do more than what we did the first quarter.”
That starts and finishes on the practice field. I know it’s cliche, but you play like you practice. And what did we hear after the loss to the Buffalo Bills? The Broncos didn’t have a good week of practice, and we all saw the results. Take what happened in Week Three and use that as the motivation on Sunday. That goes for the coaches as well because that wasn’t their best game either.
As Adam Malnati and I said on the latest MHR Radio Podcast, Denver needs to push itself even harder the next three days. Focus on the details and do not settle. Take a cue from Peyton Manning: If it’s not perfect, do it until it is. - Ian St. Clair
Fourth quarter offense
Trevor Siemian has looked good early in games, but once the fourth quarter rolls around he has looked shaky and, at times, downright awful. This has led to the Broncos ranking dead last in third down conversions in the fourth quarter. Dead Last. This needs to change and it needs to change on Sunday night. - Tim Lynch
Do the little things
The most dangerous animal in the wild is an injured one. The Giants are definitely wounded and have nothing to lose. These are the games where doing the little things count most. It will be about staying disciplined. Winning games in the NFL is hard enough. Becoming undisciplined because your opponent is banged up and winless is a natural occurrence.
The offense will need to stay with the running game. It will be tempting to want to come out throwing the ball all over the field and looking for lots of points, but the game plan must stay consistent. Run the ball to open up the pass. Don’t get fancy. Do the little things right and the big things will take care of themselves. - Adam Malnati
Broncos front 7 must dominate
The Broncos defensive line and pass rush are going to be the single biggest factor deciding the outcome of this game. The Giants have a terrible offensive line, and now will be trotting out the following at wide receiver: a hobbled Sterling Shepard, 2016 undrafted receiver Roger Lewis, 2017 undrafted wide receiver Travis Rudolph, and onetime Broncos player Tavarres King.
Giants WR Brandon Marshall announced he is undergoing season-ending ankle surgery on Tuesday. Could be TV time. pic.twitter.com/6QbmGNWqr8— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 10, 2017
New York has also rushed for 183 fewer yards in five games than the Broncos have so far in four. Oh, and Eli Manning is already dealing with a neck injury. Add all of that up and it's a golden opportunity for the front seven to dictate the outcome of the game by hitting Manning early and often, and shutting down the run game completely.
The offense just needs to avoid any and all turnovers and get up two scores. At that point, desperation sets in for the Giants, the turnover opportunities start mounting, and the defense gets its chance to seal the deal. - Taylor Kothe
Crush the Giants’ will
The Giants have officially hit the F-it button. Their season is over and they have nothing to lose. They are going to try stuff that even Oakland Raiders coach Jack of the River would think is nuts because at this point it's about pride. Unless they have thrown in the towel and decided to battle the Browns for the No. 1-overall pick in the draft.
Broncos GM John Elway to @OrangeBlue760: "This week is a huge step for us. We've got to go out and play to our standards."— Patrick Smyth (@psmyth12) October 10, 2017
I doubt the players have given up though, so this is going to be a battle unless the Broncos play disciplined football. They need to crush what little will the Giants have left early in the game to make sure that they don't hang around and gain confidence. Denver needs to do this on both sides of the ball. If the offense falters for a third straight game, the New York defense will feel emboldened. - Joe Mahoney
What are your keys to victory for the Broncos?