For the second week in a row, the Denver Broncos are participating in a homecoming game.
Last Sunday night, Peyton Manning led them to a loss in Indianapolis. This Sunday, former Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan comes back to the Mile High City to see if he can upset Denver for the second straight game.
But the Broncos will be hungry for a victory and to prove to the world they’re the league’s best team while Shanny and the Washington Redskins will look for the upset road win.
RGIII vs. Denver’s defensive front. Robert Griffin III is one of the truly talented players in the NFL today. Even with his knee hurting him, Griffin is still a threat to take off and run with the ball. He’s a modern-day John Elway, blessed with a cannon for an arm to compliment his fleet feet; he’ll light you up through the air or on the ground. If Denver’s defensive front isn’t disciplined, RGIII will have a field day against them.
The Broncos Win If…
The offensive line can protect Peyton Manning. Man, did Manning get beat up against the Indianapolis Colts last week. He didn’t have enough time to throw even when the line picked up their blocks, and fared worse when they couldn’t. Due to the O-line’s ineptitude, Manning was hit hard once, fumbling the ball into the end zone for a safety, and then hit hard again, which forced his interception throw. The offensive line – which is a MASH unit due to the rash of injuries – must give Manning the time to survey the defense and find open receivers or Denver’s top-tier group will again struggle.
The Broncos Lose If…
They can’t keep the ball. Denver cannot afford to turn the ball over, especially three – really four, with the safety – times and win the game. Ronnie Hillman was cut earlier in the week, which was a sign the Broncos’ brass is over the team fumbling the ball away. It’s likely we’ll see a heavy dose of Knowshon Moreno today, who only has one fumble on the season so far. Manning has to be his accurate self, recovering from a down game last week and Trindon Holliday needs to secure the rock on returns as well.
Only three players in the NFL have scored eight touchdowns through seven weeks, all three of them play for the Denver Broncos. Moreno, tight end Julius Thomas and wide receiver Wes Welker are those men, each are must-plays today.
What’s At Stake
For Denver, this game represents an opportunity to regain their confidence, to get back to winning ways. A loss for the Broncos would mean the possibility of falling two games back of the Kansas City Chiefs, depending on their game’s outcome against the Cleveland Browns.
Line: Broncos (-12.5)
Money line: Broncos (-800) Redskins (+550)
Rich Kurtzman is cover32′s Denver Broncos Managing Editor. Follow Rich on Twitter (@RichKurtzman).