The Denver Broncos have played on the road only once this season.
That game was against the New York Giants and that team looks to be possibly be one of the worst in the NFL. Peyton Manning rolled past little brother Eli in a blowout. A close game that was opened up in the second half.
This Sunday’s game will be a much tougher away game.
The Broncos travel to Jerry’s World to play the Dallas Cowboys. While only 2-2 on the young season, the Cowboys present a challenge to the Broncos that they have yet to face this season.
The Broncos are expected to win their home games, but big wins on the road provide statements. And an easy win over “America’s Team” would give the nation something to talk about.
But it may not be as easy as it seems.
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has shocked undefeated teams twice in his career. In 2006, he led an inferior Dallas team past Manning’s 9-0 Colts. Romo did the same thing to the New Orleans Saints in 2009. The Saints came into that game with a record of 13-0, but left with a loss. During both of those games, the Cowboys were a middle-of-the-pack team in the NFL.
The Broncos are only 4-0 but have been the most dominant team in the league. Everyone expects them to win. Romo’s Cowboys were big underdogs in both of those upsets and could be looking to knock another unbeaten team off its perch.
Romo has also added a little fuel to fire by calling out the Broncos secondary in the USA TODAY this week.
“They grab, they hold, they’ve almost put a lot of pressure on the refs – whether or not they’re going to call the game close or not,” Romo said on a conference call with reporters in Denver. “If they get called once or twice, that’s a good thing. But they’re all over guys as far as using the little tricks, I guess you could say, that good linebackers and good secondaries use when they’re playing man coverage.”
Shots fired by Mr. Romo.
The Broncos secondary would beg to differ. The defensive backfield was flagged for pass interference or holding several times against the Giants. They were not even allowed to put their hands near receivers. Denver’s defense is not getting away with anything.
There is no doubt that the Cowboys are full of talent, but also inconsistent. There is no shortage of firepower on the offense with DeMarco Murray, Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. The defense has DeMarcus Ware, who will be a handful for the Broncos’ Chris Clark, and Dallas also has do-everything linebacker Sean Lee.
But with all that talent, there is something missing from the Cowboys. They beat the Giants and the Rams, two pretty bad teams. And there are losses to the Chiefs and the Chargers. In both of those games, Dallas held leads only to cough them up late. The ability to put teams away seems to be missing.
Now the AFC West’s best is set for their trip Dallas. The Broncos and their high-powered offense that averages over 40 points a game faces a defense that is giving up 382 passing yards a game. Manning could have a field day, but the crowd will be hostile and make it tough on Manning to call out his audibles.
The Broncos quarterback has said it will be a challenge facing an unknown opponent in the Cowboys. But Manning has had his way with a Monte Kiffin led defense before. Kiffin, who is the current defensive coordinator in Dallas, held the same position in Tampa Bay in 2003.
The Bucs were the defending Super Bowl champs and were blowing out the Colts on Monday Night Football before Manning led a comeback to eventually beat Tampa Bay in overtime.
Of course, this is 10 years later with a different team and players, but Kiffin’s schemes are the same.
If the Broncos don’t turn the ball over, they should be in good shape. The Cowboys thrive off of turnovers.
Denver will win this game but it will not be easy. This will be the first time the Broncos will face adversity and a close game in the fourth quarter. A close road game will be just what this team needs.
Chris Schmaedeke is currently the Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Camera in Boulder. He has worked in sports journalism in Colorado since 2001 when he started at the Rocky Mountain News. He has covered the Denver Broncos for several websites over the past two years.
Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisSchmaedeke