Setting the Stage:
(Ed Note - A word of apology - For some strange reason, the NFL chose - in mid-season - to modify its web site (& all the links to it) to make it difficult for us to access, manipulate and use its numerical info. This affects everything from stats to play-by play logs to roster data. These problems have continued to "flow downhill" to negatively impact Team sites and the FOX site who depend on League data. Packaging statistical info is time consuming. As Average Joes, we don't have adequate time to ferrett out meaningfull statistics in a timely manner. Sorry).
Both HC's rumored to be on "quicksand watch." Despite being on Thursday night, this game has taken on a "try to imagine how little we care" aura. For example, the NY Daily News failed to even mention the game in its (usually quite busy) Thursday sports section.
."Cards are improving from week to week but aren't playing at a level where even a few games figure to be iron-clad locks.You can see the talent on this football team (especially on the pass rush) but they make too many mistakes and squander too many opportunities to stay in some games or ice others in the second half. On the laundary list of "Cardinal sins" are: Can't Run...Can't Stop the Run...Can't Convert 3rd Downs...Can't Stop 3rd Down Conversions. If when these transgressions get cleaned up, the Cards will begin to look like a consistent winner. If...When.
Broncos lost a 3-pt hearbreaker to the Rams and have lost their 4 most recent games. They've got Von Miller and their riookie Bradley Chubbs to terrorize enemy QB's, a game-smart QB in Keenum and a legitimate playmaking receiver in Sanders. Fortunately (as the weather begins to turn colder) we get them in "our house."
Broncos' Last Game
Temperature: 25-degrees at kickoff inside Mile High. Rams built a 20 - 10 third quarter lead and hung on to prevail 23 - 20. For the Broncos, it was their 4th straight loss.
For the second straight week, Denver got blacktopped by opposing runners, This week they allowed what one writer described as a "career day" by Ram RB Todd Gurley (208 yds on 28 carries - 7.4 YPC). The loss overshadowed what would have been rookie Bradley Chubb's "coming out part" (3-sacks for the day).
A taunting penalty on Emmanuel Sanders was pivotal in the Denver loss: The Broncos’ wide receiver had hauled in a 44-yard catch over Rams’ cornerback Troy Hill,and as Sanders slid past the goal line, he walked straight into Hill’s grill shaking a pointed index finger while jawing to his face. (Sanders had led Denver with 7 receptions (115 yds) and a TD). But instead of a TD, the ball was spottted on theRam one-yd line and the penalty moved the ball back to the Ram 15. Two rushes and one incompletion later, the Broncs settled for a FG. Swing in points (TD vs. FG) was 4. Margin of victory was 3. Yoy do the math.
Other Bits & Pieces - Denver defense was tough on third down. Denver OL has been decimated...Safety Darian Stewart had 8 tackles, half a sack and one interception
Play by Play log information from the team, League or FOXSports not available.
First Quarter Score: Rams 6 - Broncos 3
Second Quarter Score: Rams 13 - Broncos 3.
Third Quarter Score:Rams 20 - Broncos 10
Final Score: Rams 23 - Broncos 20
Last Game Stats
First Downs - Rams 24 - Denver 23
Net Yards - Rams 444 - Denver 357
Rushes/Yds - Rams 39 for 270 - Denver 17 for 60
Passing Yards - Rams 174 - Denver 297
Interceptions - Rams 1 - Denver 1
Compl/Att/Ints - Rams 14-28-1 - Denver 25 - 41 -1
Sacked - Rams 5 - Denver 2
Fumbles Lost - Rams 0 - Denver 1
Fumbles Lost - Rams 0 - Denver 0
Run to Pass Ratio: Rams: 39/28 - Denver 17/41
Turnover Ratio Rams +1
Broncs in a Thumbnail
In many ways, Denver reminds us of "us" - we both have an elite pass rush, we both can't run the ball or stop the run, we both pass more than we run, we've both lost nearly all our games. Biggest difference may lie in the headiness and experience of our respective QB's - Rosen is still a bit wet behind the ears/Keenum will beat you with his mind.
Total First Downs ...133 118
Rushing ..................44 41
Passing ..................75 68
Penalty .... .14 9
3rd Down Conversions 27 /77 34/83
4th Down Conversions 3/7 3/4
Total Offensive Yards 2326 2423
Rushing Yards 745 968
Rushing YPC 5.3 5.6
Passing Yards 1581 1455
Comp/Att/Int 147/233/8 ...125/200/4
Sacked 16 15
FG 10/10 12/16
TD’s 13 17
Time of Poss..........................28:48................31.11
Turnover Ratio .......NA
QB ..04 Keenum.....06x Kelly...09 Hogan
RB.....28 Freeman....23 Booker...30 Lindsay
WR1....10 Sanders...14 Sutton....81 Patrick
WR2 ...88 D Thomas...17 Hamilton
TE......82 Heuerman...83 LaCosse...89 B Parker
LT.......72 Boiles...68 Wilkinson
LG ..65 Leary...76 Garcia
OC ..61 Paradis....70 S Jones
RG.....60 McGovern...77 B Turner
RT ..66 Veldheer...
Defensive Interior Line
DE - 44 Golden, 91 Mayowa, xx Z Moore,
DT - 90 Nkemdiche, 72 Pierre, G Smith
NT - 98 Peters, 95 Gunter
DE- 55 C Jones, 96 J Smith
SAM - 43 Reddick, 92 Gardeck
MLB - 57 Bynes, 51 Hodges
WILL - 20 Bucannon, 47 Turner
LCB - 21 Peterson, 26 B Williams, 39 Nichols
RCB - 28 J Taylor, 23 Benwikere
SS - 36 Baker, 30 Ford
FS - 41 Bethea, 38 Boston, 40 Tillman*
Matchup: Denver Passing Attack vs. Cardinal Pass Defense
Denver throws more than it runs. Major hookup is Keenum-to-Sanders with their RB (Lindsay) a major outlet target. Offensive line is banged up - note the presence of former Card Veldheer at RT.
Cardinal pass rush must be considered one of the best in the League. We note with a degree of pride, that Cardinal pass rushers have finally learned to keep their hands up when rushing the passer (results in blocked passes and disrupted passing lanes.
Cards are at their most challenged when they have to account for more than a few elite receiving threats (i.e. a couple of receivers plus a TE and FB). Cards figure to glue Peterson to Sanders and put their best cover safety or LB to contain Lindsay.
Key Matchups: Peterson vs. Sanders. Boston vs, Lindsay. C Jones and Golden vs. Denver OL
Matchup: Denver Rushing Attack vs. Cardinal Run Defense
Denver led the NFL in Yards Per Rush (over 5.0). , yet more recent results don't reflect this. Vs. the Rams, Denver's leading rusher was Freeman (9 carries for 22 yards, followed by Lindsay (4 carries for 18). Remind you of anybody?
Cardinal players and coaches have grown pretty vocal about the team's inability to stop the run. Problem - to this casual onlooker - appears to be on the left side of the Card defense and at safety.
Question of the evening: "will Denver use this matchup to get well running the ball? Or will they take what the defense gives them and, as the Cardinals often do, stick with the pass?
Key Matchups: Freeman and Lindsayvs. Bynes and Peters
09 Bradford, 03 Rosen, 07 Glennon
23 D Johnson, 29 Edmonds, 22 Logan, 32 Coleman
WR - 11 Fitzgerald, 13 Kirk, 16 Sherfield
WR - 16 C Williams, 14 Nelson,
TE1 - 86 Seals-Jones, 85 Holmes, 84 Gresham,
LT- 74 Humphries, 73 Wetzel, (79 Cunningham)
LG - 76 Iupati, 68 Vujnovich,
OC- 64 Cole, 62 Munyer
RG- 67 Pugh, (68 Vujnovich)
RT - 71 A Smith, 75 Clausell, 79 Cunningham
Defensive Interior Line
DE......95 D Wolfe...92 Kerr
NT.......94 Peko....96 SHarris
DE......99 Gotsis...57 Walker
SLB....55 Chubb...48 Barrett
WLB...58V Miller...56 Ray
ILB....51 Davis...40 Berria...45 Johnson
ILB...54 B Marshall,,,47 Jewell...43 J Jones
LCB....29 Roby...22 Brock
RCB....25 C Harris...24 A Jones...41 Yiadom
SS .....26 D Stewart..34 Parks...38 S Thomas
FS.....31 Simmons...35 D Thomas
Matchup: Cardinal Passing Attack vs. Denver Pass Defense
Josh Rosen has demonstrated than he can thread the needle to deliver the ball "on target"/"on time." What he hasn't learned to do - at least not in his first few games as a pro- is to do this with any degree of consistency. His receiving options are limited - with Larry Fitzgerald (having arguably his worst year) and Christian Kirk his two best targets along with emerging TE-receiver RIcky Seals-Jones.
Rosen will have to deal with a scary Denver pass rush which features LBs Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Two ways to deal with this: (1) run the ball - especially at Chubb and Miller or (2) lots of screens and other short quick passes. Most prolific pass defender in the Bronco secondary thus far is their safety, Stewart. Interesting matchup figures to pit Stewart with Cardinal TE Seals-Jones.
The thing about young, talented, ineperienced QB's like Rosen is that they have high risk/reward ratios and you don't know where the roller-coaster will end up at game's end.
Kirk vs Roby, Fitzgerald vs. Haris...Humphries vs. V Miller...Smith vs. Chubb
Matchup: Cardinal Running Attack vs. Denver Run Defense
Think along with me - Team A can't get arrested running the ball despite having a former Pro Bowl RB on its roster. Its QB is young and talented, but inexperiencd.
Team B has 2 elite pass rushers. They were blacktopped for 270 yards on the ground last Sunday.
If you're Team A, what will be your offensive strategy? (Hint - Its first name is David and his second begins with a "J").
Cards have been incorporating more and more misdirection into its game plan week by week - Expect more counters and QB waggles across the grain.
David Johnson vs. Denver Front 7.
Denver Special Teams
K 08 McManus
P 03 Wadman
H 03 Wadman
LS 42 Kreiter
KR 30 LIndsay
PR 24 A Jones
Cardinals Special Teams
P - 02 Lee
K- 04 Dawson
H - 02 Lee
LS -46 Brewer
KR - 22 Logan, 14 Nelson
PR - 13 Kirk, 22 Logan
Matchup: Denver Special Teams vs. Cardinal Special Teams
Don't know much about Denver's kicking and punting units. They've got a 3rd down RB returning KO's and Pac Man Jones returning punts. Lee is having a career year. So would Dawson if he'd just eliminate the occasional "stinker" outing. Logan has been inactive. Kirk looks like he's about to break a couple of long PR's.
Kirk vs. Denver coverage teams
Denver HC Vance Joseph is in his second year with the Broncs. They've got highly regarded Billy Musgrave as their OC. Former Card Geep Chryst Coaches the TE's.
Steve Wilks is still establishing his sense of team-culture and identity. His challenge continues to be (a) retaining credibility with mgt and players and (b) getting players to buy into what he's trying to accomplish.
How to Beat the Broncos
Don't let their playmakers beat you - specifically Sanders, Chubb and V Miller. Run the ball/stop the run/don't shoot yourself in the foot.