On Saturday, August 26, at 8 PM, the Packers take on the Broncos in Denver. Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari and kicker Mason Crosby both played college ball in the state of Colorado; and receiver Max McCaffrey is a native of Castle Rock, Colorado.
Many Packers fans remember his father, Ed McCaffrey as a member of the Broncos team that won a Super Bowl on a non-call pass interference by John Mobley in the final minutes.
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While most of the world will be focused on the fight a few hundred miles away, this third preseason game poses some issues for both teams. Here are five questions this game should answer:
1. Will Ty Montgomery play significant minutes?
The running backs drafted by the Packers and signed as undrafted free agents, have been undistinguished in recent practices as well as last week’s game against the Washington Redskins. Montgomery has a medical condition that is often affected by high altitudes, but he also missed the last preseason game with a soft-tissue injury. With the regular season fast approaching, he should be taking snaps with the first team to build a rhythm.
2. Will the Bronco’s new look defensive line pose problems for the Packer’s high-octane-offense?
Rookie, DeMarcus Walker, adds a speed element to the ferocious pass rush, while veteran, Domata Peko, shores up the middle at nose tackle and linebacker, Von Miller, remains almost unblockable. In many ways, this will be the first real test of the Packer’s first-team offense. The regular season has a brutal start for the Packers: two outstanding defenses in Seattle and Atlanta will surely be watching this game to see what to expect from Rodgers and company.
With Bryan Bulaga’s ankle injury, Kyle Murphy or Jason Spriggs will have to step up.
3. Will the Packers’ starting receivers play extended minutes against the dangerous Broncos secondary?
Safety, Darian Stewart, is a big hitter and his three interceptions last season reveal his coverage skills.
Stewart, along with corners Aqib Talib and Chris Harris, made Denver the “No-Fly Zone” last season. After a preseason injury to Jordy Nelson wiped out his 2015 season, McCarthy may be reluctant to give significant snaps to starters like Davante Adams and Randall Cobb.
Instead, we can expect Geronimo Allison, Jeff Janis, Trevor Davis, and Max McCaffrey to state their cases for roster spots and starting roles.
4. Will Trevor Siemian lock down the starting role?
Paxton Lynch was a rocket-armed first-round draft pick out of Memphis, but has not capitalized on his potential to stretch the field. Instead, Siemian, the 2015 draft’s 250th pick overall, will continue to lead the Broncos. Siemian is one of the three quarterbacks to lead Northwestern to a bowl victory, so he is used to surpassing expectations. This home game may be the time for Lynch to seize the starting role, if he can put together a strong game plan against the Packers’ questionable secondary.
5. Will the Broncos’ offensive line hold up against the Packers’ defensive line?
Left tackle, Garett Bolles, looks to be a solid player, but will be tested by the Packers’ thin defensive front. Veteran Ron Leary and former Packer, Allen Barbre, provide depth. Center, Matt Paradis, looks to be relatively healthy after battling injuries. Many experts graded him as the best center in the NFL last season. His backup, Dillon Day, should see plenty of action against Green Bay. Denver offensive line coach, Mike McCoy, varies his attack with zone and power blocking schemes. Packers’ defensive tackles Christian Ringo and newcomer Calvin Heurtelou, will need to be strong at the point of attack.
As John Elway retools his Broncos into a Super Bowl contender in the loaded AFC West division, the Packers will most likely take a conservative approach. Playing on the road in high altitude against a dangerous Broncos defense will probably not be conducive to the traditional explosive Packers offense. This late in the preseason, expect lots of rotation to keep players healthy, and probably a loss.
Prediction: Broncos 24, Packers 14