The Denver Broncos' season-opening win against the Baltimore Ravens made a statement to the rest of the league. The Broncos are on a mission in 2013 to prove they are the best team in the league, and their sights are set on winning the Super Bowl.
The Broncos showed off the new offense under Adam Gase in the opener as Peyton Manning threw seven touchdowns. He's unlikely to duplicate that pace against the Giants. However, the offense will once again flow through Manning as he tries to outdo his brother.
Let's take a look at ways the Broncos will attack the New York Giants on both sides of the ball.
When the Broncos Run the Ball
The Broncos did not run the ball effectively against the Ravens in Week 1. They'll have to do a better job with the ground game if they want to have more balance offensively.
In order to maximize their ground game, the Broncos will feature the zone-blocking system with a lateral-moving offensive line. Running backs need to be able to identify where cutback lanes are going to be and anticipate them quickly.
Below we see the Broncos lined up against a four-man front. This is the defensive front many teams, including the Giants, will use most of the time against the Broncos.
The Ravens are essentially daring the Broncos to run the ball. Peyton Manning sees this and changes the play at the line of scrimmage.
The play initially starts out to the left side of the offensive line. As the play is flowing left, Ronnie Hillman sees a cutback lane to the right. He cuts back to the right and gashes the Ravens defense for seven yards on the play.
The Broncos will have plenty of opportunities to run the ball this season. Most defenses are concerned about Manning and the passing game. They'll give the Broncos space to run in order to provide umbrella coverage on guys like Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
When the Broncos Pass the Ball
The strength of the Broncos is Manning and the passing game. We saw them use almost all of their weapons effectively against the Ravens.
In the play below, we see their base offense out of the pistol formation. They are using 11 personnel here and Manning is waiting to see how the defense is going to cover slot receiver Wes Welker.
The Broncos use the short passing game to chip away at a defense, and this is a difficult play to stop.
As Welker drags across the field, we see cornerback Corey Graham try to stay with him. Linebacker Daryl Smith steps into the middle in front of Welker, expecting a pass to the middle. Welker instead continues his route across the field to the open spot cleared out by tight end Julius Thomas.
This is an easy pitch-and-catch for Welker and Manning. The play results in a gain of 13 yards. This short pass puts the defense on its heels and sets up deep passing for later in the game.
In the picture below, we see an example of how that deep passing game is so effective. In this formation, Demaryius Thomas is lined up at the Z position outside. Tight end Julius Thomas is lined up on the right side of the line and has already burned the Ravens for two touchdown catches on the night.
Because of the tight end's breakout performance, the Ravens are now paying more attention to him. Specifically, the safety is paying more attention to him over the top. Since the safety stays toward the seam route Julius Thomas is running, it leaves Demaryius Thomas with one-on-one coverage on the outside.
Peyton Manning is going to take this shot every time. He throws the ball up where Demaryius Thomas can easily pluck it out of the air near the goal line. This play results in a 26-yard touchdown for the Broncos.
Denver has a patient passing offense. Manning will go underneath multiple times in order to lull the defense to sleep. When it gives him the look he wants, Manning will strike deep.
When the Giants Run the Ball
The play below is a favorite of the Giants. We see them stretch the play outside to the left with running back David Wilson.
The Giants pull both the left guard and the right tackle on this play and let the defensive ends for the Cowboys crash in untouched on quarterback Eli Manning.
The play results in a run for a first-down, as the defense gets too far upfield and opens up a huge lane for Wilson to run through.
The Broncos' pass-rushers will have to stay disciplined if they see this look. They want to get after Eli Manning, but if they go too far upfield, the Giants will run underneath them.
It's a form of offensive Kung Fu the Giants will try to use. It uses the aggressiveness of the defense against itself.
When the Giants Pass the Ball
Below we see a bunch formation the Giants love to use. Cruz is lined up on the left side of the field, and most defenses are going to be watching him closely here.
As the ball is snapped, we see two receivers, including Cruz, make a break to the outside. Behind them, Randle is waiting to burst down the seam.
Eli Manning is looking for Randle here, as there should be a mismatch over the middle of the field. He wants to make the big strike in the middle, and Randle has the speed to get down the seam in a hurry.
The Broncos are going to be paying a lot of attention to Cruz and Nicks, but they can't forget about Randle. We're going to see players like linebackers Danny Trevathan and Wesley Woodyard tested in coverage.
With the likely return of Champ Bailey on Sunday, it will be especially important for anyone covering Randle to know how the Giants like to use him. Bailey and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie may be asked to cover Nicks and Cruz one-on-one.
The Broncos secondary will greatly benefit if the pass-rushers can get to Eli Manning and make him uncomfortable. Manning is known as a streaky quarterback. When he's hot, it's difficult to slow down the passing game. However, when he's cold, it builds a negative momentum that can lead to turnover opportunities.
The Broncos want to get this big road win in the spot where the Super Bowl will be played at the end of the season. They can't expect the Giants to have six turnovers like they did against the Cowboys in the season opener. The Broncos can be opportunistic if the plays are there, but most importantly they must be disciplined defensively.
On offense the team doesn't need Peyton Manning to do everything. They will put great effort into getting the ground game jump started this week. If the running backs continue to struggle then the Broncos will just use Manning to win in a what could be a high scoring contest against his little brother.
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