After a tough loss against the Tennessee Titans, the Denver Broncos now play the defending Super Bowl champion, Green Bay Packers, at Lambeau Field. Already 13 point underdogs, Denver doesn't seem to have much of a chance against the Packers.
Can Denver win this game? Yes, but a LOT of things have to go right for them to win. Green Bay's an elite team, and they're not going down easily.
Aaron Rodgers is one hell of a QB. Make mistakes, even the smallest ones, and he's going to make you pay for them.
But, any QB can mess up when under pressure. That's why it's a very good thing that the Broncos have Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil. Dumervil's been out the last two weeks with a shoulder injury, and Von has stepped into his role with a bang. He already has two sacks and two forced fumbles. Getting Dumervil back on defense will surely be a help into slowing Rodgers down.
Don't put pressure on him, and he's going to have field day.
Elvis Dumervil isn't the only key player on defense that's been injured. Champ Bailey, who's missed the last two weeks as well, will be welcomed back in a huge way. He will be covering Aaron Rodgers's favorite target, Greg Jennings, who I've heard can be a very decent wide receiver. In all seriousness, though, getting a great corner back to cover one of the NFL's best receivers sure does help.
The Packers have a lot of great receivers (Jordy Nelson, Donald Driver, Randall Cobb), but shutting down the best of the bunch will be one key step.
Brodrick Bunkley, acquired from the Philadelphia Eagles in July, has been a run stopping force for the Broncos this season. While he's arguably Denver's best offseason pickup, he now goes up against either Ryan Grant and James Starks, or just Starks. Grant had a great game against the Chicago Bears last week, with 92 yards rushing, but he's questionable for this game.
Even if Grant misses this game, we still gotta stop Starks.
Green Bay has a lot of talent on defense. Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews, BJ Raji, etc.should be a good pass defense with a great corner, having Nick Collins play before he got hurt and a good pass rush from Clay Matthews, right?
BUT, the Packers do have a great run defense, the best in the league. John Fox is a run-first head coach, yes, but Green Bay isn't easy to run against. To score points against them, Denver will need Kyle Orton to throw the ball. True, Orton may not be as good of a QB as Newton (well, OK, passing wise, we don't know yet), Brees or Cutler, but Orton can get a lot of yards too.
Besides, Orton has had success in his career vs Green Bay. He's 3-1 vs them in his career (as a member of the Chicago Bears).
Clay Matthews is arguably the best OLB in the NFL. He's the Packers best defensive player. If Denver doesn't keep blockers on Matthews, he's going to destroy Orton on Sunday. That's why I think Denver should use a system of two tight end set and keep Spencer Larsen blocking. For Kyle Orton to succeed, he can't have Clay Matthews in his face all day.
Jermichael Finley is one of the NFL's best Tight Ends. After missing 2010 with an injury, he's back now stronger than ever. He's another great target for Aaron Rodgers to throw to, and if Denver wants to win this game, they need to shut down the Packers' targets.
I say put Rahim Moore on him. Moore is a great coverage safety and can be a factor against tight ends. Here's a good test for him.