Green Bay Packers-Denver Broncos: Keys to game and who will win

By Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange   |   Updated Nov. 1, 2015 at 10:56 AM
share with facebook
share with twitter
1 of 2
| License Photo

Green Bay Packers (6-0) at Denver Broncos (6-0) - NFL game preview

Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver - TV: NBC

*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya

*Keys to the game: Both teams are coming off bye weeks and are as healthy as they have been since the start of the season. The juicy storyline is the second ever meeting between Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and counterpart Peyton Manning, but the defenses will have a lot to say about how this one plays out.

As much praise as Rodgers is rightfully lavished with, it has been the ground game that has helped propel the Packers minus WR Jordy Nelson. RBs Eddie Lacy and James Starks have both been dinged up and traded turns driving the league's No. 8 ground game - who gets the bulk of the carries this week is anyone's guess. But they'll be butting heads with one of the NFL's top run defenses allowing just 3.6 yards per carry. The goal being to back Rodgers into long passing downs, limiting the effectiveness of his mobility and seeing what he can do against the top-ranked pass defense that has produced 26 sacks through just six games.

The Broncos' defense has been the story of the undefeated start to date because Manning leads the NFL with 10 interceptions and his arm strength has regularly been called into question and the ground game routinely sputtering. The Packers have 23 sacks of their own and will have the upper hand against an inferior offensive line. Manning needs to get the ball out of his hands quickly, so in order to move the chains RBs C.J. Anderson and/or Ronnie Hillman must be effective.

*Matchup to watch - Packers S Morgan Burnett vs. Manning: The quarterback of the defense, Burnett has played in only one game this season due to a nagging calf injury that had time to heal over the bye. He expects to play and will have a key role in getting the defense in position against Manning, a master of reading defenses at the line and making audibles to create mismatches.

*Player spotlight - Broncos C Matt Paradis: The embattled first-year starter received a vote of confidence this week from coach Gary Kubiak, who said Paradis' pass protection has improved. Kubiak said during bye week film review the team identified some things they can take off Paradis' plate scheme-wise.

*Fast facts: In his lone meeting against Denver, Rodgers became the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for 400-plus yards, throw four-plus touchdowns and have multiple rushing touchdowns in the same game. ... This is the sixth 6-0 start of Manning's career, the most by a quarterback in NFL history.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

NBC gets a marquee battle between future Hall of Fame quarterbacks who enter with matching 6-0 records. Green Bay isn't the automatic NFC Super Bowl representative that many are depicting and Denver's defense keeps this game close, but ultimately the Packers' balance on offense is the tipping point.

*Our pick: Packers 26-24.

Trending Stories