Broncos Face Tough Test With Undefeated Cardinals
Broncos Face Tough Matchup With Undefeated Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals - Denver Broncos

Week 5 - 10/05/14

Time: 2:05 PM MDT

TV: FOX

Location: Sports Authority Field

Line: Broncos -7.5 (Bovada)

The undefeated Arizona Cardinals head into Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Sunday afternoon to take on the AFC Champion Denver Broncos. The Cardinals, leaders in the NFC West, bring the #2 scoring defense with them to face off against the NFL's all-time scoring offense.

The Cardinals are looking to maintain their lead over the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West. A win over the Broncos on the road would elevate the Cardinals into contender status in the NFC. The Cardinals have been able to fashion a 3-0 record despite injuries to key defensive players and starting quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Broncos find themselves a 1/2 game behind the San Diego Chargers in the AFC West and in need of a win to keep pace in a division they have won over the last three years. With a revamped defense that has so far led the team over the first three games of the season, the Broncos will be looking for a consistent offensive attack that they are more accustomed to.

Linebacker Danny Trevathan returns for the Broncos after a broken knee sidelined him to begin the season. Brandon Marshall filled in well, leading the team in tackles. With Trevathan back the defense will finally be at full strength.

2014 Record

Denver Broncos

Overall:

2-1 (2nd, AFC West)

Home:

2-0

Road:

0-1

Arizona Cardinals

Overall:

3-0 (1st, NFC West)

Home:

2-0

Road:

1-0

Head-To-Head Record

Regular Season:

Broncos lead 7-1-1

Playoffs:

Have never met in the postseason.

At Denver:

Broncos lead 4-0

Last Time Met:

12/12/10 at Arizona. The Broncos lost 43-13 in what would become a 4-12 season, resulting in the firing of Josh McDaniels as head coach with four games remaining in the season. It was the first game for interim head coach Eric Studesville. The win by the Cardinals snapped their seven game losing streak and marked quarterback John Skeltons' NFL debut. It was also the first and only win over the Broncos in Arizona's franchise history. The Broncos turned the ball over six times, three coming on interceptions of quarterback Kyle Orton.


Linebacker Daryl Washington #58 of the Arizona Cardinals runs with the football on a 40 touchdown interception against the Denver Broncos during the fourth quarter of the NFL game at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 12, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Broncos 43-13.
(December 11, 2010 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

2014 Stats:

Last Game

Broncos

09/21/14 at Seattle Seahawks. The Broncos lost 26-20 in overtime as their offense struggled for much of the game until they came to life in the fourth quarter, down 17-3. The Broncos would score two touchdowns and convert a 2-point conversion in the quarter to send the game into overtime. The Broncos would never see the ball in overtime as Russell Wilson drove the Seahawks down the field, converting first downs with his legs as well as his arm, for a game winning touchdown.


Running back Marshawn Lynch #24 of the Seattle Seahawks dives into the end zone over cornerback Aqib Talib #21 of the Denver Broncos for the game winning score during overtime of the game at CenturyLink Field on September 21, 2014 in Seattle,Washington. The Seahawks won the game 26-20.
(September 20, 2014 - Source: Steve Dykes/Getty Images North America)

Cardinals

09/21/14 - San Francisco 49ers. Won 23-14 as Drew Stanton, in his second straight start for the injured Carson Palmer, threw two touchdowns in the third quarter to rally the Cardinals back from a 14-6 halftime deficit.

Starters:

Denver Broncos
Offense Position NFL Experience (Seasons)
Demaryius Thomas WR 5
Ryan Clady LT 7
Orlando Franklin LG 4
Manny Ramirez C 8
Louis Vasquez RG 6
Chris Clark RT 6
Julius Thomas TE 4
Virgil Green TE 4
Emmanuel Sanders WR 5
Peyton Manning QB 17
Montee Ball RB 2
Defense Position NFL Experience (Season)
Derek Wolfe LDE 3
Sylvester Williams DT 2
Terrance Knighton NT 6
DeMarcus Ware RDE 10
Von Miller SLB 4
Nate Irving MLB 4
Danny Trevathan WLB 3
Aqib Talib LCB 7
Chris Harris Jr. RCB 4
T.J. Ward SS 5
Rahim Moore FS 4
Special Teams Position NFL Experience (Seasons)
Brandon McManus K 1
Britton Colquitt P 6
Britton Colquitt H 6
Aaron Brewer LS 3
Isaiah Burse PR R
Andre Caldwell KR 7

Arizona Cardinals

Offense Position NFL Experience (Seasons)
Larry Fitzgerald WR1 11
Jared Veldheer LT 5
Ted Larsen LG 5
Lyle Sendlein C 8
Paul Fanaika RG 5
Bobby Massie RT 3
Rob Housler TE 4
Michael Floyd WR2 3
Drew Stanton QB 8
Andre Ellington RB 2
John Carlson TE 7
Defense Position NFL Experience (Seasons)
Calais Campbell DE 7
Dan Williams NT 5
Frostee Rucker DT 9
Matt Shaughnessy SLB 6
Larry Foote ILB 13
Kevin Minter ILB 2
Sam Acho WLB 15
Patrick Peterson LCB 4
Antonio Cromartie RCB 9
Tony Jefferson SS 2
Tyrann Mathieu FS 2
Special Teams Position NFL Experience (Seasons)
Chandler Catanzaro K R
Dave Zastudil P 13
Dave Zastudil H 13
Mike Leach LS 15
Ted Ginn KR 8
Ted Ginn PR 8

2014 NFL Rankings

Cardinals Broncos
Offense Yards (NFL Rank) Yards (NFL Rank)
Passing 230 yards (17th) 264 yards (10th)
Rushing 105.7 (21st) 75.3 (28th)
Defense Yards Allowed (NFL Rank) Yards Allowed (NFL Rank)
Passing 244.7 (18th) 285.3 (31st)
Rushing 71.7 (4th) 105.3 (12th)

2014 Team Leaders

Passing C/ATT YDS AVG TD INT Sack ATT/G YDS/G QBR NFL Rank
Drew Stanton 32/62 411 6.6 2 0 4 31 193 83.5 35th
Peyton Manning 74/111 814 7.3 8 1 3 37 264 108.5 20th
Rushing CAR YDS AVG LG TD CAR/G YDS/G NFL Rank
Andre Ellington 46 206 4.5 22 0 15.3 68.7 12th
Montee Ball 49 165 3.4 23 1 16.3 55 21st
Receiving REC YDS AVG LG TD TGTS YAC YDS/G NFL Rank
Michael Floyd 11 252 22.9 63 0 22 40 84 T-85th
Emmanuel Sanders 25 334 13.4 48 0 33 77 111.3 T-7th
Tackles (Pos.) Total Solo NFL Rank
Tony Jefferson (SS) 26 22 T-40th
Brandon Marshall (LB) 30 19 T-20th
Interceptions INT YDS TD NFL Rank
Larry Foote 1 0 0 T-16th
Rahim Moore 2 17 0 T-4th
Sacks TOT YDSL NFL Rank
Tony Jefferson 1 9 T-5th
DeMarcus Ware 2.5 12 T-13th

What To Look For As The Broncos Take On The Cardinals:

Getting Montee Ball and the running game going.

Heading into the season, the Broncos wanted to emphasize the run game more in their pass heavy offense. The Broncos have made an effort to do just that, but the results have been less than desired. The Broncos are averaging 75.3 yards per game rushing with Ball averaging 3.4 yards per carry.


Running back Montee Ball #28 of the Denver Broncos carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 14, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Broncos defeated the Chiefs 24-17.
(September 13, 2014 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

Going against the Cardinals' run defense won't make things any easier for Ball and company. The Cardinals rank fourth in the NFL in rushing defense, giving up just 71.7 yards per game. Despite injuries to the defense, the Cardinals have been able to be just as strong as last year.

Peyton Manning - the Cardinals blitz.

Teams have pretty much given up on blitzing Manning. With Peyton's ability to dissect a defense at the line of scrimmage and his quick release, teams have relied on their pass coverage along with steady pressure up the middle to deal with Manning.


Quarterback Peyton Manning #18 of the Denver Broncos throws as he warms up before a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 14, 2014 in Denver, Colorado.
(September 13, 2014 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

The Cardinals defense, which sports the league's #2 scoring defense, is expected to defy conventional wisdom and stick with their defensive gameplan. They will be providing the Broncos offensive line with a steady dose of blitzes. The Broncos' revamped offensive line will have their hands full.

Getting Demaryius Thomas back on track.

Admittedly, Thomas has not been himself so far this season. He has had the worst three games since Peyton Manning arrived in Denver. His high water mark for yards receiving this season is 61. Against the Seahawks he caught just four passes for 31 yards. Thomas has struggled with keeping a grip on the ball, dropping four passes in three games (he dropped five all last season).


Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #88 of the Denver Broncos walks to the bench after scoring a two point conversion during the fourth quarter of the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 21, 2014 in Seattle,Washington. The Seahawks won the game 26-20.
(September 20, 2014 - Source: Steve Dykes/Getty Images North America)

Patrick Peterson, who is one of the best cover corners in the league, will be matched with Thomas on Sunday. Thomas will need to be at his best in order to beat Peterson. One thing is for sure, Thomas will have all the incentive in the world to be focused for this game.

Taking care of business at home.

It appears the Broncos won't runaway with the AFC West, at least in the early going. Philip Rivers is playing his best football in years and the Chargers are looking like a legitimate contender. The Chargers picked up a win during the Broncos bye week which has Denver sitting a half game out. The Broncos can't afford to take any game for granted, especially at home. With the Chargers playing a winnable game at home against the 1-3 New York Jets, the Broncos must take care of business against a good Cardinals team, or find the road to their fourth straight division title a far bumpier proposition.

Sports Authority Field at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos. Getty Images.
Who Has The Advantage?
Cardinals Broncos Explanation
Passing the ball X Peyton Manning guides last season's #1 offense while the Cardinals have backup Drew Stanton at the helm
Running the ball X Andre Ellington is averaging 4.6 yards per carry while Montee Ball is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry. The Broncos haven't been able to get the running game going as of yet.
Pass Rush X DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller had their best games of the year so far in Seattle. Each collected a sack on Russell Wilson while maintaining consistent pressure all game.
Secondary X While it's a wash as far as both teams' corners, the Broncos have veteran, hard-hitting safeties in TJ Ward and Rahim Moore. Both are adept at creating turnovers.
Special Teams X Chandler Catanzaro is perfect in field goals (longest of 51 yards) and extra points this season while Drew Butler was averaging 47.9 yards per punt (5th in the NFL) filling in for the injured Dave Zastudil.
Coaching X John Fox has guided the Broncos to three straight division titles since his arrival in Denver and is only the sixth coach to take two different teams to the Super Bowl.

Arizona Cardinals Injury Report

Name Position Injury Game Status
Glenn Carson ILB Ankle OUT
Andre Ellington RB Foot Probable
Paul Fanaika G Knee Questionable
Rob Housler TE Hip Probable
Alex Okafor OLB Thigh Probable
Carson Palmer QB Right Shoulder OUT
Patrick Peterson CB Illness Probable
Frostee Rucker DE Calf Probable
Dave Zastudil p Left Groin Probable

Denver Broncos Injury Report

Name Position Injury Game Status
David Bruton Jr. S Ankle Questionable
Quinton Carter S Knee Probable
Virgil Green TE Concussion Probable
Lerentee McCray LB Knee Questionable
Brandon McManus K Right Groin Probable
Danny Trevathan LB Knee Probable
Louis Vasquez G Rib Cage Probable

Standings

AFC West W L T PCT Home Road Div AFC Streak
San Diego 3 1 0 .750 2-0 1-1 0-0 2-0 Won 3
Denver 2 1 0 .667 2-0 0-1 1-0 2-0 Lost 1
Kansas City 2 2 0 .500 1-1 1-1 0-1 2-2 Won 1
Oakland 0 4 0 .000 0-2 0-2 0-0 0-4 Lost 4
NFC West W L T PCT Home Road Div NFC Streak
Arizona 3 0 0 1.000 2-0 1-0 1-0 2-0 Won 3
Seattle 2 1 0 .667 2-0 0-1 0-0 1-0 Won 1
San Francisco 2 2 0 .500 1-1 1-1 0-1 2-2 Won 1
St. Louis 1 2 0 .333 0-2 1-0 0-0 1-2 Lost 1
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