Two losses in a row won’t make or break a team at this point in the season. There’s such a thing as peaking at the wrong time, so now it’s time for the Broncos to make their adjustments for the final half of the season. They’ve been a second half team anyway this season. This week, the Broncos travel to our nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins (2-6). It’s hard to remember a time when the White House had a better starting lineup than the Skins’, but this may be the year where that is the case. The Redskins have lost their last 3 in a row, and they helped Detroit snap their 19 game losing streak earlier this season. If there was ever a time for the Broncos to face a football team that is slightly better than a high school J.V. team, this is it. The Broncos will get their confidence back. My Prediction: Broncos 28 Redskins 13.
Broncos - Denver’s offensive line is hurting right now, and a little pressure in Kyle Orton’s face has thrown his game off the past two weeks. Don’t expect that pressure to let up in Washington. The offensive line is going to have their hands full with $100 million man, Albert Haynesworth. The Redskins have a great pass defense, but a lousy rush defense. Now, is the time for the Broncos running game to get back on track. Last week, the Broncos accounted for just 27 yards on the ground. Knowshon Moreno and Correll Buckhalter will need to make it up this week. As usual, don’t expect Orton to take big risks downfield. Josh McDaniels will be calling an even more conservative game than usual from a passing perspective just to get Orton’s confidence back. Short dump off passes won’t allow DeAngelo Hall to get his mitts on an errant long ball. This offense has become one dimensional going from a great rushing team in one game to a great passing team in another. Once the balance is restored, the scoreboard will be too – in the Broncos favor.
Redskins- There is so much talent on this Redskins offense that it’s hard to believe they’re 23rd in rushing and 20th in passing. Clinton Portis is out (concussion) as is Chris Cooley (broken foot) so that takes away a major part of their offense. Their receiving core is filled with all-stars. Antwaan Randle El and Santana Moss are great targets for Jason Campbell, but their offense can’t really sustain drives. It doesn’t help that the offensive line can’t protect Campbell either. He’s third in the league as far as being sacked goes. He’s also fumbled the ball 8 times, losing 3 of them. Sherman Williams has been handling play calling duties, and to no one’s surprise, the Skins’ are still exposed on offense. If you look at the Redskins’ stat page, you can see they’ve tried every play in the book to find something that’s going to be effective. They’ve had 9 different players rush this season, and 3 different players take a snap. They’re going to have a helluva time against a fired up Broncos defense.
Broncos - The Broncos now sit 8th for rush defense and 7th for pass defense. It’s a blessing they don’t have to worry about Portis, and they can concentrate on getting to Campbell and coverage downfield. Campbell has been sacked 25 times already and this Broncos defense is 3rd in the league in sacks. Campbell doesn’t handle pressure well at all and he has trouble connecting in the red zone. The Broncos could have a field day if their defense is back to normal. D.J. Williams is leading the team in total tackles, while Elvis Dumervil is 2nd in the league in sacks (10.5), and a handful of players have interceptions. This week will be good practice for new safety Ty Law to become more familiar with the defense. After two rough weeks of hard-nosed defense, the Broncos offense needs to do their best to give the defense a break.
Redskins- The Redskins are #1 in pass defense and #25 in rush defense. DeAngelo Hall has 3 INTs on the season. Reed Doughty, LaRon Landry, Carlos Rogers, and Fred Smoot are the notable players covering the Skins’ backfield. Call Albert Haynesworth overpaid or dirty, but he clogs the middle of the field, and has helped the Skins’ to their #1 pass defense ranking by calling attention towards him. That’s allowed London Fletcher, Andre Carter, and rookie Brian Orakpo to stand out defensively. They are able to pressure opposing QBs into bad passes where their secondary can intercept or deflect balls. Their defensive line is big, but quick. They are going to challenge Denver’s o-line tremendously. The Broncos could really use Ryan Harris out there, but as long as the Broncos are balanced offensively, I think it will throw the Skins’ defense off.
Broncos - I still think Brett Kern is a better punter than Mitch Berger. It was frustrating watching him during the Steelers game. Keep an eye on him to see if he can help the defense out a bit.
Redskins- Shaun Suisham is perfect on the year for field goals. Rock Cartwright handles kick returns and he’s averaging 23 yards per return. Antwaan Randle El and Santana Moss are taking care of punt returns, but have not broken out for a big play.
Broncos - Josh McDaniels knows this is a must win game. He will probably focus more on balanced play calling despite the Skins’ talent covering the pass. He will call a more conservative game than usual just to get the offense flowing and Kyle Orton’s confidence up to par.
Redskins- Jim Zorn is just on the sidelines to take up space, and give the occasional pep talk. Mr. Positive had his play calling rights revoked weeks ago. Dan Snyder will wait until the season is over to fire him. Until then, it’s about keeping games competitive. Give the upper hand to McD – who should run away with this game.
Topics: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Antwaan Randle Al, Brain Orakpo, Brett Kern, Carlos Rogers, Chris Cooley, Clinton Portis, Correll Buckhalter, D.j. Williams, Deangelo Hall, Denver Broncos, Elvis Dumervil, Fred Smoot, Jason Campbell, Jim Zorn, Josh Mcdaniels, Knowshon Moreno, Kyle Orton, Laron Landry, London Fletcher, Mitch Berger, Reed Doughty, Rock Cartwright, Ryan Harris, Santana Moss, Shaun Suisham, Ty Law, Washington Redskins