Three Keys for the Denver Broncos Versus the Arizona Cardinals


The Denver Broncos return to the field on Sunday after last week’s bye when they welcome in the unbeaten Arizona Cardinals. In some ways, it almost feels like the start of the season.

There were the two home games and then the trip to Seattle that everyone was either looking forward to or dreading followed by the off week. Now the Broncos and their fans can settle into a more typical routine for the remainder or the season.

Here are the three keys for the Broncos to move to 3-1 on the season.

First down: A lot has been made of the Broncos struggles in the running game, and believe that is the reason for the inconsistency on offense. There’s no doubt that the Broncos need to be better in the running game but it is the lack of production on first down that is hurting the offense.

The Broncos, through three games, are too often finding themselves in second and long because they ran the ball for a yard or two on first down. The Broncos identity, for better or worse, is to throw the ball and they need to get back to that.

Of course they should not throw on every first down but they need to be more aggressive than they have been through the first three games. The Broncos must use their strength in the passing game to set up the run, not the other way around.

Third down defense: The Broncos have actually played good defense on first and second downs, but have struggled to get off of the field on third down. That was especially the case versus the Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs.

When the Broncos get the Cardinals into third down situations, they must find a way to get off of the field. For the first time this season, the Broncos will not be facing a mobile quarterback in Drew Stanton and the pass rush should be more effective. I would also expect to see defensive coordinator, Jack Del Rio to be more aggressive with the return of linebacker Danny Trevathan.

It’s tough to run stunts and blitzes when facing a mobile quarterback because those tend to leave open running lanes for the quarterback. All of those things should lead to a more productive defense on third down.

Be the Broncos: We talked about this earlier in the week but it’s worth repeating. The Broncos are not running team and while their defense is better, that’s not the primary reason they are going to win football games. They are going to win football games because of Peyton Manning and an offense that scores 35-38 points per game.

We can debate all day if that’s the right way to build a championship football team but the Broncos strength is Manning, the receivers and the ability to throw the ball all over the field. They need to run the ball better but on their terms, not because everyone is telling them they have to.

Most everyone seems to believe that this will be a tough test for the Broncos but I’m not buying it, at least not completely. The Cardinals are a good, maybe even a very good football team, but they are not on the Broncos level.

This is a game that the Broncos should and must win. The San Diego Chargers have shown that they are a real factor in the AFC West, and the Broncos cannot afford to give away home games.

Plus, Manning and the Broncos have had two weeks to stew about the loss to the Seahawks. They play their best game of the young season on Sunday and walk away with a relatively easy win.

Prediction: Broncos-30 Cardinals-16