GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Firsts define the Broncos' trip to Wisconsin. They are seeking their first sack of the season, first takeaway, first touchdown before halftime, first win and first-ever victory at Lambeau Field.
As Broncos safety Justin Simmons admitted this week, "I am sure everyone in the NFL world is picking against us. That's good though. We wouldn't want it any other way."
The Broncos trudge into Sunday as an underdog, but not without hope. My Denver7 keys to a Broncos upset:
The Broncos are the last NFL team without a sack. It makes no sense. Denver didn’t hire Vic Fangio to decaffeinate the defense. It would help tremendously if Von Miller or Bradley Chubb snapped the streak in the first quarter by corralling Aaron Rodgers. I would run a twist, a stunt, or line them up on the same side to create a different look to get on the board. And yes, minimize the number of times Von drops in coverage with the return of linebacker Todd Davis.
Take it away
Fangio’s last Chicago defense led the NFL in takeaways. The Broncos have zero. They cannot triumph on the road without winning the turnover battle. Is this the week Chris Harris Jr. or Simmons delivers a game-changing pick?
Receiver Davante Adams is a star. He is the Packers best receiver, and no one else is close. Harris Jr. will follow him around the field. That means Isaac Yiadom must improve, and win his one on ones against Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Rodgers will target Yiadom. It’s a given. The Broncos can ill-afford any coverage breakdowns against secondary receivers like they had on the Bears’ final offensive play last week.
Start Me Up
The Broncos offense ranks last in possessions with 17. That has contributed to the lack of scoring, but doesn’t excuse three overall points in the first half. The Broncos stink on the road the last two-plus seasons because they fall behind, and become one dimensional. It starts with a better first-half running game, where the Broncos have averaged 2.9 yards per attempt. It won’t be easy. The Packers defense has been gnarly.
Finish the drill
The Broncos managed 14 points on 27 first downs last week. That’s like a baseball team scoring two runs on 12 hits. Denver needs to be more creative in the red zone, where it owns a 2-for-7 touchdown percentage. Field goals lose road games. How about lining up tight end Noah Fant or using Emmanuel Sanders on misdirection plays? It can’t hurt.
Smith means trouble
For the Broncos stand a chance, they must neutralize Preston and Za’Darius Smith. Quick hitters to the running backs could help slow the pass rush. Same goes for slants to Sanders and Courtland Sutton.
Garett Bolles has 26 penalties in 34 games. He had four holding calls last week, and it should have been five. Patience is running out. If he starts slowly this week, he must be benched for a series or two. The Broncos cannot sacrifice a game to try and develop a player who has not improved.
RENCK PREDICTION: Packers 27, Broncos 17.