5 Bold Predictions for the Denver Broncos' Week 4 Matchup Against the Eagles
Manning has thrown an NFL-record 12 touchdown passes and no interceptions along with 1,143 yards and a ridiculous quarterback rating of 134.7. After two slow starts in the first half of their first two regular-season games, Denver absolutely dominated the Oakland Raiders Monday night by a score of 37-21.
This Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles come to town to try and derail Manning and company. The Eagles are 1-2 on the season after last week's 26-16 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Andy Reid's return to Philadelphia.
Quarterback Michael Vick has been the opposite of Manning and threw two interceptions against the Chiefs. The Eagles continue to adapt to head coach Chip Kelly's rapid-fire offense, and their defense faces a monumental challenge against the Broncos.
Here are five bold predictions for what will unfold in the Broncos' Week 4 game against the Eagles.
Eagles Jump out to an Early Lead by at Least Two Scores
Anyone who has seen even part of an Eagles game knows that Kelly's offense is much different than anything the NFL has seen before.
Philadelphia came flying out the gate in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins and jumped to a big lead early because Washington's defense couldn't catch their breath against a fast-paced Eagles offense. They got a better hold on it as the game went on, but the Redskins were gassed early.
Denver's defense is much better than Washington's, but even they will have trouble adjusting to the break-neck pace the Eagles play. This means the Eagles will jump out to an early lead, perhaps by even more than two scores, and will mark this game as an "upset alert" heading into the second half.
Raiders game aside, Denver has been lethal in the second half, and it will be a similar story on Sunday. The Broncos will be sweating heading into the locker room, but adjustments at halftime will help them put away the Eagles.
Montee Ball Breaks out
It may not come down to a game of rock-paper-scissors, but Denver's rookie running back finally will show why he was selected in the second round of this spring's draft.
Ball has struggled in the first three games, averaging 3.2 yards a carry and is one part of a three-headed rushing attack with Knowshon Moreno and Ronnie Hillman. All three backs struggled a bit to get going against the Raiders, but when you have Manning as your quarterback, things tend to go well anyway.
The Broncos drafted Ball to be their running back of the future, and this is the game he finally begins to prove them right. The Eagles rank 17th in the NFL against the rush, and Ball will show improvement over his 11-carry, 61-yard performance against the Raiders.
Ball has also fumbled twice in three games with both resulting in turnovers. For a player that didn't turn the football over much at Wisconsin, this is a bit of a surprise. As he continues to adjust to the speed of NFL defenses, however, this number should improve drastically.
Look for Ball to not turn the ball over at all against the Eagles and get his first 100-yard game as a pro as well as his first two NFL touchdowns.
Peyton Manning Still Won't Throw an Interception
If you look solely at touchdown-to-interception ratio, Manning is off to the best start of any NFL quarterback in league history.
A record 12 touchdowns is incredible enough. That Manning also has zero interceptions is just mind-boggling. Manning has been ruthlessly surgical through three games and right now is running away with his unprecedented fifth NFL MVP award.
For those looking for an outbreak of "Manning Face" from Peyton against the Eagles, you are going to be sorely disappointed.
The Eagles defense ranks 29th against the pass and could see themselves fall even further down that list by the time Manning is done with them. The Broncos quarterback has his choice of receivers to throw the ball to, and there is no way Philadelphia will be able to stop Wes Welker, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
Manning will continue his torrid pace and very well could add five more touchdown passes against the Eagles. That would make 17 in four games. That's a pace of 68 for the season.
Knowing Manning, even that probably won't be good enough.
Denver's Defense Will Finally Miss Von Miller
The Broncos defense has done an admirable job in the absence of two of their best players, linebacker Von Miller (suspension) and cornerback Champ Bailey (foot).
Manning's fast start to the season has taken a lot of pressure off the Denver defense, and other players have stepped up to the plate like Wesley Woodyard. On Monday night, facing an unknown yet very mobile Terrelle Pryor, the defense more than held its own before giving up points once the game was already well in hand for the Broncos.
The Eagles are a different animal, however. Vick is a veteran and is obviously much better than Pryor and has much more talent around him. LeSean McCoy has gotten off to a quick start, going over 150 yards in two of the Eagles' three games and also plays well in the screen game.
The Broncos will struggle with McCoy, and that is where they will finally miss Miller's speed. Off-field issues aside, Miller is still one of the best linebackers in the NFL. His presence alone changes how teams attack the Denver defense.
McCoy will have another big game and so could Vick's wide receivers. DeSean Jackson had over 100 yards receiving in the first two games of the season and could make some big plays early if Denver is out of breath trying to keep up with the Philadelphia offense.
The Broncos Put Up over 50 Points in 51-31 Win
As was said on the very first slide, the Eagles will get off to a quick start by wearing down the Broncos' defense in the first half. It wouldn't be surprising to see Philadelphia jump out to a 14-0 lead early.
Once the second half starts, however, game over and advantage Denver. The Broncos may be on their heels early, but thanks to Manning being in a zone no one has seen before plus the poor play of the Philadelphia pass defense, the Broncos pull away once again in the game's final 30 minutes.
This is the biggest test the Denver defense has faced so far, but they should have a grasp on Vick and the Eagles offense by the end of the first half. The Eagles have gotten off to fast starts in all three games only to sputter in the second half and have lost two straight games.
When it's all said and done, Manning continues his torrid pace and the Broncos go to 4-0.