Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants: Five Storylines to Watch
There are a number of storylines going into this game, especially after what transpired in Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season.
The Broncos opened their season at home by dominating the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens with a 49-27 victory at home. Most consider it to be Week 1's best performance of any team, as CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco ranked the Broncos as the No. 1 team in the league in his weekly power rankings.
On the other hand, the New York Giants opened the season in Dallas where they were defeated by the Cowboys, 36-31. The low point of the loss was the six turnovers committed by the Giants offense.
The Broncos are an AFC contender, as are the Giants in the NFC. Peyton faces his brother Eli for the third (and likely last) time in the regular season.
Here are five storylines to watch in this highly anticipated Week 2 matchup.
Manning Bowl III
The Denver Broncos are considered to be the best team in the AFC. The New York Giants are an annual playoff contender who will likely be competing for the NFC East division title by season's end.
But that won't be the focal point of the game.
The focal point heading into and during the game will be none other than the Manning brothers—Peyton and Eli.
The brothers have met just two prior times: the first in 2006 and the second time in 2010. Peyton's Indianapolis Colts won both times over Eli's New York Giants.
"You do take a moment there to realize that it is your brother over there that's the quarterback for the New York Giants in the NFL, the same person that you grew up with, so it is unique and I think you take a moment to realize that it is special," Peyton Manning said, per Arnie Stapleton of the Associated Press.
Although much more will be at stake during this game—two top-tier teams seeing how they measure up against one another—Peyton vs. Eli will be the headline of the game.
How Good Are the Denver Broncos?
The Denver Broncos embarrassed the Baltimore Ravens, 49-27, in Week 1 after having likewise been embarrassed by the Ravens in a double-overtime playoff loss from a season prior.
In the victory over the Ravens, Peyton Manning threw for seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. The seven-touchdown, single-game performance tied an NFL record.
The Broncos have three receivers who had 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 2012—Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
Now they have a tight end in the mold of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates in Julius Thomas.
The third-year tight end had five receptions for 110 yards and two touchdowns. It was the best performance by a Broncos tight end since Shannon Sharpe's seven-reception, 101-yard, two-touchdown performances vs. the San Diego Chargers in 2003.
And now there's talk about the Broncos offense breaking records.
Can Peyton Manning break Tom Brady's record of 50 touchdown passes in a single season? Could the Broncos offense shatter the 2007 New England Patriots' record of 589 points in a single year?
We'll get a clearer answer to those questions after Week 2.
Will Champ Bailey Play?
Denver's top cornerback for the past decade, Champ Bailey, missed the season opener due to a sprained left foot injury.
The Broncos defense, in spite of the absence of not only Bailey but also linebacker Von Miller, played extremely well in forcing two turnovers to go along with four sacks on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
The Broncos' two starting cornerbacks for the game—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Chris Harris Jr.—held the Ravens receivers in check.
Cromartie only had one pass thrown his way, not allowing a single reception. He played the definition of a "shutdown corner."
Harris had an interception that set up the Broncos' first touchdown of the game. He was targeted eight times and gave up just three receptions for 18 yards.
Now, it looks like Bailey will miss another game for the second straight week.
Via Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post:
Cornerback Champ Bailey did not participate in practice Thursday, further dampening his chances of returning to action Sunday against the New York Giants. He has not practiced since spraining his foot during the preseason, and he appears pointed toward another week of watching while he recovers.
Fox did not elaborate on Bailey's condition, calling him "day to day" and adding "he'll be back (at some point)."
Will the Defense Come Out to Play?
As mentioned in the previous slide, the Broncos roughed the Ravens offense quite a bit.
Having said that, the Ravens were playing in their first game after replacing two of their top receivers from 2012—Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta—and to make matters worse, their No. 2 receiver, Jacoby Jones, went down to injury in the first half following an attempted punt return.
When Joe Flacco is targeting Dallas Clark multiple times throughout the game, you know a quarterback is short of help.
This won't be the case when the Broncos travel to the Meadowlands.
Eli Manning has a well developed rapport with his receivers in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Reuben Randle.
Both Cruz and Nicks have had 1,000-yard receiving seasons while catching passes from the younger Manning.
Eli threw for 450 yards in Week 1, to go along with three touchdown passes. Unfortunately, he also threw three interceptions in the process.
Shaun Phillips, one of Denver's defensive heroes in Week 1, wreaked havoc by racking up 2.5 sacks on Flacco.
With the likely absences of Von Miller and Champ Bailey in Week 2, the Broncos face yet another test when they face Eli and the Giants.
Which Running Game Is Worse?
Both the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants had difficult times rushing the football in Week 1.
The Broncos started Knowshon Moreno. He proceeded to carry the football a total of nine times for 28 yards. Montee Ball carried the ball eight times for 24 yards. Ronnie Hillman had four carries for 15 yards.
Between the three-headed rushing attack, the Broncos ran the ball 21 times for a total of 67 yards. That is a little over three yards a carry.
The one positive of their play? They didn't turn the ball over.
The Giants had no such luck in their 36-31 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
The Giants started David Wilson. He fumbled twice on seven carries for 19 yards. He was benched in favor of Da'Rel Scott. Scott's miscue on an attempted pass by Eli Manning led to a Cowboys touchdown and eventual victory late in the fourth quarter.
The running back situation is so questionable in the Meadowlands that the Giants decided to bring back Brandon Jacobs for a second run with the team.
Although the focal point of Sunday's game will be the Manning's, this game may come down to who has the worse rushing attack.