Things seem to only continue to get worse for the Denver Broncos. By this time last season the Denver Broncos were 2-4, despite claims that Nathaniel Hackett was responsible for “one of the worst coaching jobs in the history of the NFL” according to new head coach Sean Payton. Since Payton has taken over the Denver Broncos, the stench of losing has only gotten thicker, and more costly.
Players who have been here for years now want out, sick and tired of the losing year after year. They, like the fans, thought Sean Payton was the answer to fixing the Denver Broncos overnight, and that simply hasn’t happened, but is it all on Payton? George Paton took over as the General Manager in 2021. Since then his free agent moves have not panned out as hoped, including veteran free agents who were signed like Randy Gregory now in San Francisco, or Frank Clark looking to rejoin the Chiefs, or Mike McGlinchey who is just the latest log thrown into the wood chipper that is right tackle for the Denver Broncos.
The job he has done, including the moves to bring in Russell Wilson, and Sean Payton have all been questionable at best. At worst they have been downright failures, Frank Clark, and Randy Gregory combined for 1 sack this season in 6 games played by the two pass rushers and now both are gone. These setbacks cannot continue to happen Gregory will cost the Denver Broncos $25.6 million in dead cap over this season and next for the three sacks he produced in two years here. Frank Clark is still going to cost Denver just under $4.5 million in dead cap space this season and next for the 2 tackles he logged and 2 games he played in. This team is looking more and more like it needs to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up.
Week 7 Packers Preview
This Broncos defense has already allowed over 2,600 yards of offense, and 22 touchdowns in just six weeks to start the 2023 season. Meanwhile, Denver’s offense has limped to just 13 total touchdowns, and 1,900 yards through six weeks. This breaks down to producing 316.6 yards per game while giving up 433.3 yards per game this season. The team has produced a total of 119 points (19 points per game) while allowing an insane 190 points or 32 points per game this season so far.
The Broncos per PFF.com are the worst graded defense in the league at just 50. They are the third worst graded team on offense, and special teams is their best graded unit at 13th overall with a 76.4 grade, but Will Lutz has had his struggles as well. Lutz missed a field goal, and extra point in week 1 vs the Raiders, which ended a 1 point loss. If he had hit either of his kicks we might be talking about the 2-4 Broncos right now. This is just another sign of how bad things have gotten in Denver.
The Packers have been one of the more surprising teams in the league, faced with a transition to Jordan Love at quarterback, the Packers were a wild card, and no one quite knew what to expect. It turns out, Love is a solid quarterback, but not without his mistakes. He has thrown 2 touchdowns to 6 interceptions over the past three games. Before that he threw 6 touchdowns to 0 interceptions in his first two games. The Broncos are either catching them at the perfect time, or the worst time, and we won’t know until this game gets under way.
In the run game, Aj Dillon and Aaron Jones look to be a shadow of the 2022 version of this run game. They have combined for 243 yards, at this time last year Dillon had 286 yards by himself as the back-up to Jones who had 409 yards, and two 100-yard games as well. This could work in the Broncos favor this weekend, if they can continue to slow this run game down, they will force Love to pass all game long, which will likely result in some turnovers in this Week 7 match-up.
Despite all this the Packers are ranked 19th in overall grade on offense, while their defense is ranked 15th overall and special teams is ranked 21st. This is a remarkably even match-up this week, and it could go either way. This has the feel of a game that could turn into a shoot out quickly, with how bad these two defenses have been, its likely the offensive units will find a way to move the ball up and down the field.
Broncos Keys to Victory
“RUN THE DAMN BALL”
The Broncos have at times neglected the run game too much. In week one the team rushed for 94 yards, against Washington it was 122 yards, 69 yards against Miami, 97 yards against Chicago, 139 yards in their best performance all year against the Jets, and 115 yards against the Chiefs. The Packers defense is ranked 20th in run defense according to PFF.com. They have allowed over 700 yards on the ground this season, and this could be the perfect defense for Denver to get their run game going.
Keep in mind during Wilson’s tenure in Seattle, he always had a run-game to lean on and take attention away from himself and the passing game. Here are the Seahawks’ rushing percentages since 2010, listed from highest to lowest, with where they ranked league-wide in brackets:
- 2012: 55% (#1)
- 2018: 52.8% (#1)
- 2013: 52.3% (#1)
- 2014: 51.4% (#2)
- 2015: 48.3% (#4)
- 2019: 46% (#6)
- 2011: 44.3% (#12)
- 2021: 43.3% (#13)
- 2017: 40.6% (#20)
- 2020: 40.2% (#19)
- 2010: 39.9% (#27)
- 2016: 39.8% (#16)
As you can see, the Broncos took a quarterback out of one of the most balanced systems in the NFL, and put him in an offense where they want him to throw the ball more often. In 2022 the Broncos ran the ball 43% of the time One of the lower percentages you’ll find from his time in Seattle. In 2023, they have run the ball even less, dipping to 41%. Looking closer at those seasons with Seattle in which Wilson was tasked with carrying the team in 2016 they went 10-5-1, in 2010 it was 7-9, 2020 12-4, 2017 9-7, 2021 7-10, and 2011 7-9 or a 52-44-1.
Obviously not a bad record by any stretch, but the seasons in which they ran the ball 46% or more they held a 67-29 record, and never won less than 10 games. Every one of Wilson’s worst statistical years came when he was expected to carry the offense with the passing game, and yet here we are in 2023, his 12th season trying to buck a trend that followed him for a decade in Seattle. At what point does this become insanity: doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? The Broncos have won just 2 games with Russell Wilson when they rushed for less than 100 yards as a team. It’s time they rededicated themselves to the run game going forward. Finding a beneficial mixture of Javonte Williams, Samaje Perine and Jaleel McLaughlin should be priority number 1 for this offense IF they want to win anymore games.
Protect the Quarterback
Part of protecting the quarterback is finding ways to get the ball out of his hands faster. This season Wilson is averaging 3.1 seconds before a throw, last season he was at 2.94 but the season before coming to Denver he had his second lowest average of his career; 2.78. During this stretch with Denver, Wilson has been sacked 74 times while being pressured 290 total times. This not only caused sacks, but incomplete passes, the Broncos have watched as Wilson had a career high in batted passes in 2022 with 18, and is on pace for just as many this season with 6 already in 6 games. He also had to throw the ball away another 42 times, and scramble another 43 times just to stay upright.
A lot of this could be cleared up if Denver could drop his average time to throw to even 2.5 seconds, that extra half a second to rush the passer is a monumental difference for that defense every week, and it could be the entire key to opening up this offense, and avoiding so many in game setbacks, whether that is a sack, a throw away, or a batted pass doesn’t matter. This is one area Denver can dramatically improve in. Denver is not without playmakers, get the ball in their hands quicker and let them do their job from there. Whether it’s Jeudy, Sutton, Mims, Johnson, or a running back or tight end, all of these guys are solid after the catch, the problem is they have to get the ball before they can really do damage.
Stop the Run
This week it is crucial for the Broncos to sell out to continue stopping the Packers run game. If you can force Jordan Love and this Packers offense to beat you through the air, this plays into the Broncos favor. Denver has a lot of talent in this secondary, but a lack of pass rush, and playing some quality receiver/quarterback combos hasn’t helped to this point. This week they face a Packers offense devoid of scary playmakers out wide, and in fact they don’t have a receiver with a catch rate over 56.8%.
With that in mind I expect this to be an active game for Kareem Jackson who could be the tone setter for this game. Remind those receivers what is waiting for them when they catch a pass, and keep them thinking about the hard hit they’re about to take for coming down with the ball. The Broncos defensive backs need to prove they belong in this game. There is too much veteran talent in this secondary not to have a quality performance against one of the weakest wide receiver rooms in the NFL.
The Broncos have the distinct advantage when you look at the injury report. Denver listed just one player TE Greg Dulcich who is listed as out. He is quickly turning into a weekly injury concern after suiting up for just 12 games out of a possible 23 in his young NFL career. The Broncos have been left to cycle their back-ups at the position all season.
The Packers have 9 players listed as questionable and one listed as doubtful. This list includes Aaron Jones, Elgton Jones, Eric Stokes, Jaire Alexander, Darnell Savage, De’Vondre Campbell. Its to a point where they even have lost some of their depth players behind starters. Quay Walker, and Zayne Anderson could miss this game as well. Tackle Yosh Nijman, and DT Devonte Wyatt are also questionable.
Betting Odds and Prediction
Our sponsor BetUS.com has this game listed as a split decision, with a 1.5 point spread. Click the link for a 125% deposit match bonus on your first deposit. The Packers are favored, despite being on the road. The Money-Line has the Broncos listed as even, with the Packers at -120. The over/under is 45 total points with the Packers over/under listed at 22.5 points, and Denver listed at 21.5 points.
Prediction: Broncos will find a victory finally. This game will come down to the wire, but I expect the Broncos to win on a late score via their final possession. This game will definitely be a one score deficit, and I see it as a 24-21 victory for Denver. If I was betting on this game I would take Denver, and the over for the Broncos.
Written by Shady Sports Network
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