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Broncos can’t afford to look past the Eagles

After the big win against the now 6-2 Cowboys, taking on the 3-6 Eagles seems an easier game. But it likely won’t be.

Denver Broncos v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The recent history of the Broncos-Eagles matchups is a bunch of lopsided games.

Of course the last time these two teams met, the Broncos got trounced 51-23 in Philly. With Peyton Manning at the helm in 2013, the score was almost reversed with the Broncos on winning end, 52-20.

The likelihood of scores like that this weekend seem low as the 5-4 Broncos will try to maintain the momentum from their restorative win over the Cowboys and add another W when they host the 3-6 Eagles.

But it will be crucial the Broncos don’t look past the Eagles just because of their statement win in Dallas. While that 30-16 win was impressive, it was against a somewhat beat-up or recovering Cowboys team.

The Eagles’ record indicates a weaker team, but that is deceptive and could be a trap if the Broncos aren’t disciplined this week in their prep and film study. The Eagles’ defensive front could be a problem for Teddy Bridgewater, who likes to hold on to the ball too long. Pat Shurmur needs to continue dialing up the quick passing game and continue using the Javonte Williams-Melvin Gordon duo to give the offense its best chance and wear down that defense.

“You’ve just got to respect the game, respect your opponent and never forget that dark place that we were in a couple weeks ago,” Bridgewater said about not looking past the Eagles. “I think when you go through those moments where you’re losing, it tests your character. With us, it was a test of our character during those four weeks that we didn’t come away with a win. To come away with two wins in a row, that tests your character also. How are you going to respond? Are you going to feel like you’ve arrived, or are you going to approach it like, Hey man, our job is not done.’”

If Vic Fangio has any influence over Shurmur, the running game should get a lot of attention again.

“We have to have good balance. We have to have a good day blocking,” Fangio said, noting that a couple holding penalties prevented Gordon from getting 100 yards too. “We have two good backs, and if we can give them some space, they’re going to do good stuff for us.”

Fangio is also surprisingly complimentary of his rookie back.

“He’s just a really good player. He’s a rookie by classification, but not by play and demeanor and professionalism.,” Fangio said of Williams, comparing his style to Hall of Famer Edgerin James. “He doesn’t act like a rookie at all. The guy is really good.”

When it comes to defending the Eagles, the Broncos’ pass rush and run defense is going to need to bring it the way it did against Dak Prescott. Though Jalen Hurts hasn’t been the dominant QB for the Eagles this year, his mobility and quick passing could present problems for the Broncos.

“You just really have to look at their attack,” said defensive coordinator Ed Donatell, noting they have to adapt to both the run and pass with the Eagles’ RPO. “Unique team in a way. They’re so good at running the ball and [Hurts] is a threat, so you have to have people on him.”

In our Something Something Broncos podcast this week, Jess and I were more optimistic than Tim about the Broncos’ chances this week. While we all think it will be a close game (because, duh, it’s the Broncos!), Tim wanted to “pump the brakes” on all the optimism from last week’s win.

Jess, who witnessed in person the drubbing from the Eagles four years ago, sees a much brighter path to a win this week. In fact, he thinks the “disrespect” from the Cowboys’ offense last week by going for it on fourth down in the first two series of the game fired up the Broncos defense and will give them a boost going forward.

Donatell agreed it was a big momentum shift in the game just to have the two early stops.

“That sent a boost of confidence to everybody,” he said. “It charged up our whole team on the first one. We had a couple of them.”

I feel like the Broncos gained a lot of confidence last week in not just winning and not just winning big but in beating a good team on the road despite all odds against them.

Either way it will be a good test of where this team really is in terms of its mindset. Hopefully Bridgewater’s composure and perspective carries over to the entire team.

“We’ve still got this game to focus on and then several more games after this,” Bridgewater added. “You’ve just got to respect the game and respect your opponent.”

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