On Sunday afternoon in the city of brotherly love, two teams on the opposite side of the NFL spectrum will face off. After winning five straight, the Philadelphia Eagles are quickly surging to Super Bowl favorites thanks to the development of Carson Wentz. A city that has been aching for a franchise quarterback capable of winning a Super Bowl has found their guy.
Meanwhile, the Denver Broncos have lost three straight and in an embarrassing fashion. A franchise with a history of Super Bowl quarterbacks hasn’t been able to find a quarterback capable of mustering more than 12 points per game in the last month. Instead, the Broncos will now turn to whom they once believed would be their next franchise quarterback in an attempt to light a fire in a lifeless offense. Will the change to Brock Osweiler be the spark this team needs to get them back in the hunt? Here are this week’s keys to beating the Eagles.
1st Down: Ball security is job security
The expectation for Brock Osweiler has been made crystal clear from his head coach; take care of the football. That’s something that Denver’s offense has been completely inept at doing of late. During the Broncos’ losing streak, they have turned the football over 11 times. It doesn’t matter how great the Denver defense is when you turn the football over at that rate. There will be instances when Osweiler will need to make a few key throws, but if Denver can just take care of the football, the defense will give them a chance in the fourth quarter.
Good news for Osweiler and the offense will be the return of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Demaryius Thomas also looks to break out of his touchdown slump of 13 games without finding the end zone. When Osweiler was the starter in 2015, Thomas had five touchdowns in those seven games.
2nd down: Get to Wentz
Carson Wentz has been MVP caliber special. The second year quarterback is first in total passing touchdowns (19) and third in yards (2063). However, Wentz is tied for sixth in sacks taken (22). Add in the fact that the Eagles will be without their nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, and the door is open for Von Miller and company to cause havoc for Wentz.
3rd Down: Denver’s defense returns the turnover favor
While the Broncos’ offense has been a turnover machine, the Denver defense ranks 28th in total takeaways. However, they still remain dominant against the run while boasting the number one ranked rushing defense. The Eagles traded for Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi but don’t expect him to be a huge factor with only a few practices with his new team. The other Eagles’ running backs are among the least talented that the Broncos have faced this season in Legarrette Blount and Wendell Smallwood.
Denver’s secondary also has the advantage over the Philadelphia wide receivers. If the Broncos continue to shut down the run game and the offense can keep the game close, Wentz is going to have to test the No Fly Zone. It’s time for them to cause their own turnovers.
4th Down: Slow down Zach Ertz
While the Broncos’ corners can take just about any receiver out of the game, the Achilles heel of the Broncos’ defense remains covering tight ends. The Broncos have given up 233 yards and two touchdowns in the last three games alone.
Wentz is going to look to his favorite target in tight end Zach Ertz often and with good reason. The Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz has emerged among the leagues best at the position. Ertz is currently tied for second in the league with six touchdown catches. The Denver defense won’t be able to take him out of the game completely, but they must put together a better performance than weeks past.
For the Broncos to take back their season, they’ll need to play a complete game in all three phases; something they haven’t done since week two. The change at quarterback was needed, but just because the Broncos changed quarterbacks doesn’t mean all their problems on offense are solved. The offense will have to prove they can take care of the football and give their defense a chance before anyone can pick an upset. Prediction: 20-16 Eagles.