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Denver Broncos' Keys to Victory: Week 8 vs. Green Bay Packers

Ken Pomponio Avatar
October 31, 2015


Who: Denver Broncos (6-0) vs. Green Bay Packers (6-0)

What: 2015 Week 8

When: 6:30 p.m. MST, Sunday, Nov. 1

Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High


Announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth

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

Odds: Packers -3; O/U 45.5

Notable: The Orange & Blue trail 6-5-1 in the series with the Packers having won three straight, but the Broncos own a 5-1 mark at home. And you might remember the other Denver victory in the series. (Hint: It came in San Diego). … This will be only the fourth meeting between teams with 6-0-or-better records since the 1970 merger and the first since the 8-0 Patriots beat Peyton Manning and the 7-0 Colts 24-20 on Nov. 4, 2007. … Manning is 1-2 against the Packers (all while with the Colts), throwing for 916 yards, eight TDs and three interceptions while Aaron Rodgers is 1-0 versus Denver, throwing for 408 yards, four TDs and one interception in a 49-23 win over Kyle Orton and the visiting  Broncos in 2011. … Manning needs a win to tie former-Green Bay QB Brett Favre for the most victories (186) by a starting quarterback in NFL history. … This will be the Broncos’ league-leading 19th prime-time appearance (the 49ers also have 19), including their 10th on Sunday Night Football, since 2012. The Broncos have gone 13-5 in those games, including an 8-1 mark at home. … During that same span, the Packers have posted a 9-5 prime-time record but are 2-4 on the road.

The Keys

  • KO the TOs: As you may have heard, the Broncos own the NFL’s third-best turnover differential with a plus-6 mark thanks to 17 takeaways, but only eight teams have given it away more than Denver’s 11 (10 interceptions and a fumble). None of those of eight teams has a winning record, and they’re a combined 17-37 on the season. Conversely, the Packers also are plus-6 on the turnover table, but only the Patriots (three) have fewer giveaways this year than the Pack’s four. Moreover, Rodgers only has thrown 27 interceptions in 2,046 pass attempts since the start of the 2011 season. That’s a miniscule 1.3 pick percentage during a span in which Green Bay only has turned the ball over 72 times in 70 games overall. So following through with the math and logic, it doesn’t take a football PhD to realize that if the Broncos probably aren’t going to be able to count on their usual 2.8 takeaways, and Manning and Co. simply are going to have to find a way to cut down on the rookie-level interceptions and damaging turnovers.
  • Win the ground battle: Remember that aforementioned Super Sunday in San Diego when the team with an aging quarterback squared off against the squad with a young gunslinger in this prime of his career? And who was the offensive coordinator of that first team? Don’t think that Gary Kubiak – especially on a night franchise patriarch Pat Bowlen is being honored, in large part, by a reunion of the Broncos’ 1997 Super Bowl-champion team – won’t channel some of the SBXXXII game plan and try to establish Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson and Co. against an improved Green Bay D – that while allowing a league-best 16.8 points per game – has been gashed somewhat on the ground, surrendering 118.5 rushing yards per game (22nd in the league) and 4.7 per carry (27th). Conversely with all the quarterback-matchup banter this week, the Broncos can’t afford to overlook Eddie Lacy, James Starks and the Green Bay ground game. Dogged by repeated questions about his weight and nagging injuries, Lacy is off to slow start with only 260 rushing yards and 343 total yards in six games but totaled 833 ground yards and 351 receiving yards over his final 10 contests last season after a strikingly similar 306-76 six-game start a season ago.
  • Don’t die by the blitz: Wade Phillips’ blitz-heavy Broncos have bagged a league-leading 26 sacks with an NFL-best 10.5 sack percentage. But as detailed in a recent ESPN.com piece, the mobile Rodgers has a history of escaping and eating up blitzing defenses. Since 2008, Rodgers has posted league-best numbers in passer rating (110.5) and touchdown tosses (78) against the blitz, according to Stats LLC. Denver’s best bet, provided DeMarcus Ware is back close to full health, might be to count on their four- and five-man pressure packages to generate heat and trust one of the league’s best secondaries – ranked second overall so far by Pro Football Focus – to win the majority of the battles with Randall Cobb, James Jones and the Pack’s pass-catchers. Denver, though, must watch out for the emerging tight end Richard Rodgers after TE Gary Barnidge accounted for both the Browns’ offensive TDs in Denver’s 26-23 overtime win in Week 6.

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