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Taking the Reins: Paging Dr. McCoy

The Broncos have what might be a last, best opportunity to win a game when the Cardinals come to town.

NFL: Preseason-Arizona Cardinals at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

#1: Please, sir. I want some more offense.

Well, well. If a moral victory is actually possible in the NFL, the Denver Broncos managed it last week against the Chiefs. It was far from a perfect day on offense, but it also featured by far the best burst of offense Denver has enjoyed this season.

I’m not sure Russell Wilson should play this Sunday. But whether its Wilson or Rypien under center, building off of last week’s sparks would be the first sign of real progress we’ve seen. And there should be plenty of opportunity for it. The Cardinals have only the 26th best defense, as measured by DVOA, and are bad against both the rush and the pass. It’s right around the same overall DVOA level as the Chiefs’ defense.

The goal this week should be 20+ points. Three touchdowns, however they’re achieved. Two straight weeks of showing some degree of basic offensive competence.

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

#2: Put pressure on Colt McCoy.

Unfortunate as it is, the Arizona Cardinals loss of QB Kyler Murray to a torn ACL last week should improve the Broncos’ odds of victory this week. Arizona’s backup QB, Colt McCoy, has managed to produce a high completion rate and decent passing yardage in his 3 games played this season. But he’s thrown just 1 touchdown versus 2 interceptions in those games, while taking 11 sacks. More importantly, the 36 year old McCoy doesn’t have the wheels that Murray does to put extra pressure on the defense.

If the Broncos have Randy Gregory back on the field, even on a snap count, Gregory’s impact + the reduced attention on Baron Browning should lead to notably more effective pass rush. If the Broncos can push that advantage, they can force McCoy into bad throws and start generating turnovers. A short field or two for the offense, or a defensive score, could well be all the edge the Broncos need to win this game.

Arizona Cardinals v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

#3: Stay healthy.

This one didn’t work out so well last week. Russell Wilson has a concussion and we’re still adding to the IR list. Unfortunately, that only makes it more imperative. The team especially needs to avoid major injuries this late in the season, because they’ll impact which players the team can field early next season.

We’re in the home stretch of the season, and are officially eliminated from the playoffs. Sad as it is to say, staying healthy may be even more important at this point than getting a W.

What are your top keys to victory for the Broncos on Sunday?