Week 5 NFL Preview: Arizona Cardinals vs. Denver Broncos


Aug 29, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; A general view in the third quarter of the game between the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Cardinals won 32-24. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

After undergoing what seemed to be a long bye week, the Denver Broncos pick up action this week as they prepare to face the undefeated Arizona Cardinals Sunday afternoon. Denver is coming off of a week three loss to the Seattle Seahawks while the Cardinals came off of a week three win over the San Francisco 49ers.

What: NFL Week 5 Preview: Arizona Cardinals (3-0) vs. Denver Broncos (2-1)
When: Sunday, October 5th
Where: Sports Authority Field (Denver, Colorado)
Time: 4:05 PM EST, 2:05 PM MST

Good news for the Denver Broncos entering the week. Linebacker Danny Trevathan, who sat out the first three regular season games, is expected to make his season debut Sunday afternoon. Trevathan suffered a fracture at the top of his tibia in Broncos camp on August 12th, missing approximately 6-to-8 weeks. Getting him back will be key for Denver’s defense moving forward, although Brandon Marshall did a heck of a job filling in.

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Denver’s run game has been nonexistent as well, three games into the 2014 campaign. The team currently ranks 27th in the NFL with 75.3 yards yards per game, with starter Montee Ball averaging just 3.4 yards per carry while his backup C.J. Anderson is averaging 5.0 yards per carry. Broncos fans are split half-and-half whether it’s the offensive line or Ball’s fault. Sunday against Arizona, Denver must establish the run game or they’ll become one dimensional.

Adding on to the woe’s of Denver’s run game, the Arizona Cardinals are pretty good at defending it with veterans Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, and Tommy Kelly up front. Arizona currently ranks 4th in the NFL at stopping the run, allowing just 71.7 yards per game. However, Denver’s strength is throwing the ball, which Arizona ranks in the middle of the pack at 18th, allowing 244.7 yards through the air.

Arizona’s offense on the other hand isn’t flashy, but they get the job done with veteran Carson Palmer running the offense. Palmer is questionable for Sunday’s game with a shoulder injury, which kept him out of Arizona’s last contest. His backup, Drew Stanton, led the Cardinals to two victories in his absence. In other words, if Palmer can’t go, the team feels pretty confident with Stanton inserted into the lineup.

One thing Denver’s defense must crack down on is allowing the big play through the air. Although they have two solid cornerbacks (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr.) locking down both sides of the field, the team has allowed 285.3 yards per game — last in the league. In order to cut down on allowing the big play, Denver’s defensive line consisting of DeMarcus Ware, Derek Wolfe, Malik Jackson, Terrance Knighton, and Slyvester Williams, must continue to put pressure on the quarterback — disrupting their rhythm.

Last but not least, we talk about Peyton Manning. Although his team is coming off of their first loss of the season, Manning threw for a season-high 303 yards with two touchdown passes against one of the best defenses in the game (Seattle). One thing I’d like to see Denver run a little more frequently is their hurry-up offense, to keep the Cardinals defense off-balance.

One thing’s for sure, Sunday afternoon between the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos will be a good game to watch, whether you’re a fan of either team or not.