There is so much good information coming out of the @NFLMatchup Twitter account that it demands a weekly feature on Mile High Report. This week the Denver Broncos are squaring off against the Philadelphia Eagles and the matchups appear to be strength versus strength in this one.
The team that gives up the most ground in their strengths is the team that will likely find itself in some trouble on Sunday. Let’s take a look.
- Beating Carson Wentz. Let’s start with the obvious. Wentz has been the primary reason the Eagles are 7-1. He is one of the leagues best passers when throwing while inside the pocket (101.3 passer rating) and also one of the leagues best when throwing outside the pocket (104.9 passer rating). That means the Broncos will need to do more than just move Wentz off his spot. They need to pressure him and pressure him a lot. Wentz has been one of the most pressured quarterbacks in the NFL this season and the Broncos defense is among the league leaders in getting to the quarterback. Wentz has a 59.8 passer rating under pressure this season.
- Third Downs. Wentz sports a league best third-down passer rating at 118.8. On the other side, the Broncos defense is very elite at getting off the field. They are an NFL-best at it in 3rd and 3-6 yards and second-best at getting off the field in third and 7+. This is truly a strength versus strength matchup. The game outcome could be decided with this one. Over the last four games, the Broncos defense has utilized the blitz 55% of the time and man coverage 71% giving up just 1.8 yards per play. Those are Star Wards numbers.
- Limit Big Plays. Wentz likes to go deep with the football. He ranks third in the NFL with 14.4% of his passes going 20 yards or more. That will be put to the test against the Broncos defense that has given up the second fewest 11+ yard runs and 15+ yard passes in the NFL this season. As a team, the Eagles are second in the NFL at getting those kinds of chunk yards on offense.
- Red Zone. The Eagles will present the toughest challenge of the season in the red zone for the Broncos defense. They rank second in TD% in the red zone on the season with Carson Wentz ranking third in the NFL in the red zone with a 116.7 passer rating. Not an easy situation. In a bit of a head-scratcher, the Broncos offense as a whole ranks in the bottom five, but Trevor Siemian somehow ranks sixth in passer rating despite the lack of touchdowns in the red zone for the Broncos offense.
If you’ve noticed a constant theme in this post it was by design. The Broncos will only win this game if their defense wins their matchups. The Eagles will score points, but the path to victory is to hold them under 20. If they can do that, then the game will be close.
That is, if the offense somehow breaks out of its month-long slump under newly minted starter, Brock Osweiler.
What matchup would you consider the most important for the Broncos to win on Sunday?