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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 11 at Chicago Bears

Ken Pomponio Avatar
November 21, 2015

 

 

Keys-to-Victory-Who: Denver Broncos (7-2) at Chicago Bears (4-5)

What: 2015 Week 11

When: 11 a.m. MST, Sunday, Nov. 22

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago

TV: CBS

Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts

Radio: KOA (850 AM), The Fox (103.5 FM)

Odds: Broncos -1; O/U 41

Notable: The Broncos have Bears have split their 14 all-time meetings, but the Orange & Blue are only 2-4 in the Windy City. … Brock Osweiler is scheduled to make his first NFL start Sunday and will be looking to become the first Broncos QB to win his debut start since current head coach Gary Kubiak beat the visiting Seahawks on Nov. 20, 1983. Overall, quarterbacks making their first NFL starts for Denver since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger are 3-11. …  John Fox will be the sixth former Broncos coach to face Denver in the regular season or postseason, and the previous five (Ray Malavasi, Lou Saban, Dan Reeves, Wade Phillips and Mike Shanahan) have gone 2-6, including a current run of six consecutive losses, starting in 1982. … The Broncos will face former QB Jay Cutler for the first time as former Colorado State QB Caleb Hanie played for an injured Cutler in Denver’s Tim Tebow-led 13-10 overtime home win on Dec. 11, 2011. … Both teams are looking for a sweep of the other’s division this season with the Broncos having already defeated the Lions (24-12), Vikings (23-20) and Packers (29-10) and the Bears having knocked off the Raiders (22-20), Chiefs (18-17) and Chargers (22-19).

The Keys

  • Give Osweiler a helping hand: Peyton Manning’s four interceptions dug an inescapable 22-0 hole last week in the 29-13 loss to the Chiefs, but No. 18 didn’t have a lot of help either with the offensive line and ground game faltering once again. Since rushing for a season-high 160 yards in the Week 8 win over the Packers, Denver has gained only 104 yards on 30 attempts the last two weeks. Not good enough. And neither are the season-high five sacks the Broncos allowed last Sunday. Osweiler has the mobility and skills to actually run the true Kubiak offense and bring a different look to the Orange & Blue attack, but the first-time starter is going to need a little help from his friends.
  • Pressure new-and-improved Cutler into being Cutler of old: In Cutler’s first six seasons in Chicago, he tossed 93 interceptions in 82 games, and only Mark Sanchez (3.68) has had a highest interception percentage than Cutler’s 3.51 among the 34 NFL quarterbacks with 1,000 or more attempts during that span. This season, under of the tutelage of former Broncos’ offensive coordinator Adam Gase, Cutler has cut his interceptions to five and dropped his pick percentage to 1.8. The Broncos, meanwhile, haven’t intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble in their last three games after recording 17 takeaways in their first six contests. Over that span, the Broncos have been on the wrong side of an 8-0 turnover differential, including an ugly minus-7 in their two losses. It’s now vital that the Broncos flip that script with the quarterback taking better care of the ball and defense getting back to taking the ball away from the opposition. IUt starts Sunday with finding a way to get to Cutler, who could be without his two top offensive weapons in RB Matt Forte and WR Alshon Jeffery, both listed as questionable with injuries.
  • Restore some swagger: Remember the beaming, boastful (and undefeated) Broncos of three weeks ago following their impressive, national head-turning Sunday night beatdown of Aaron Rodgers and the Packers? Whether or not that win – which actually has looked less and less impressive with each subsequent Green Bay loss — instilled a little too much confidence in Wade Phillips’ defense is debatable, but what’s not is that the swagger, attitude and the aforementioned big plays have been missing in action ever since. In short, it’s a team that needs to find a way to restore its roar as its come to a real crossroads in the season. Will the Broncos chose the path toward a runaway AFC West title and AFC top-seed contention, or head down the down the dark and depressing route of a once-promising season gone off the rails?

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