It's a bittersweet weekend for the 6-0 Denver Broncos as they prepare to host the 6-0 Green Bay Packers on Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The Broncos will be celebrating their 1997 team, the team that won Super Bowl XXXII over the Packers 31-24 to earn the franchise its first championship. Players and coaches from that team including Terrell Davis, Shannon Sharpe, Mike Shanahan and current Broncos general manager John Elway will be on hand for the ceremony at halftime. Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator for the team that broke a four-game Super Bowl losing streak and went on to back-to-back wins.
Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is also being honored as his name is unveiled on the stadium's ring of fame. Bowlen's family will be in attendance to represent the man that took over the franchise in 1984. Bowlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease last year.
This will be just the second meeting between Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers and the first with Manning as a Bronco. Both teams are coming off bye weeks which went a long way to getting them healthy.
The Broncos will have linebacker DeMarcus Ware back on defense after missing two games with a back injury. Left Tackle Ty Sambrailo will be on the sidelines once again as he struggles to return from a shoulder injury.
The Packers, ranked eighth in the NFL in rushing, will attempt to run the ball with Eddie Lacy and James Starks to offset the Broncos vaunted pass rush that has sacked the quarterback 26 times this season. The Broncos have been just as successful against the run, ranking fourth in the NFL heading into Week 8 with an average of 3.2 yards per game.
Rodgers will be the quickest quarterback the Broncos defense has faced so far this year. The Broncos will be challenged by Rodgers' ability to break containment and make accurate passes on the run. It will be up to the secondary to cover the Packers receivers tightly to keep Rodgers from making a big play downfield as he scrambles away from the pass rush.
With a week off the Broncos have been focused on resurrecting their 29th ranked offense. Manning has produced his worst numbers since his rookie year, throwing just seven touchdowns with 10 interceptions. The run game has been stuck in reverse for much of the season.
When Manning has been in his normal shotgun position and audibilizing, the Broncos passing game has produced. Putting Manning back in his comfort zone and forgoing the attempt to make him a bootleg quarterback will go a long way to fixing the offensive problems that have plagued this team through seven games.
Featuring the speedy Ronnie Hillman in the running game, the owner of two 100-yard rushing games over the past three games, gives the Broncos more offensive balance. They will need that balance as they face a stingy Green Bay scoring defense.
Week 8 - 11/01/15
Time: 8:30 PM ET
Location: Sports Authority Field at Mile High
Line: Packers -3 (Westgate Superbook)
Green Bay Packers
6-0 (1st, NFC North)
6-0 (1st, AFC West)
Head-To-Head Record (1971-Present)
Regular Season: Packers lead 5-6-1
Playoffs: Broncos Lead 1-0 (Super Bowl XXXII)
At Denver: Broncos Lead 5-1
10/02/11 at Green Bay: Broncos 23 Packers 49. Aaron Rodgers threw for a career-high 408 yards and tied his career high of four touchdowns passes in a 26-point rout of the Broncos. Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton threw for three touchdowns but was also intercepted three times. The Packers improved to 4-0 while the Broncos dropped to 1-3.
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix||FS||2|
|Special Teams||Position||NFL Seasons|
|Chris Harris Jr.||RCB||4|
|Special Teams||Position||NFL Seasons|
|Total Offense||12th (364.2)||29th (325.8)|
|Passing||22nd (236.8)||18th (240.8)|
|Rushing||8th (127.3)||30th (85.0)|
|Total Defense||14th (355.0)||1st (281.3)|
|Passing||12th (236.5)||1st (192.2)|
|Rushing||22nd (118.5)||4th (89.2)|
|Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (FS)||43||38||35th|
|Brandon Marshall (ILB)||48||38||T-23rd|
|Julius Peppers (OLB)||5.5||8th|
|DeMarcus Ware (OLB)||4.5||T-14th|
|Quinten Rollins (CB)||2||T-11th|
|Aqib Talib (CB)||3||T-4th|
*Stats via nfl.com