It’s an hour before kickoff and there’s not a cloud in the Mile High sky. The temperature sits at 70-degrees and players are still in their sweats running routes, tossing balls, and trying to get a feel for the conditions.
Whether you’re sitting on a coach, on a barstool, or in a blue plastic seat, here are some things you will what to keep an eye on:
- Brandon Lloyd, Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, and Knowshon Moreno are listed as questionable. If one of these guys plays, it changes the course of the game. These are the players that opponents prepare for specifically, so Coach Fox’s game status is probably on the less optimistic side just so the Bengals didn’t spend as much time preparing for these guys.
- All eyes will be on Kyle Orton. It’s early enough in the season where this isn’t a must win game for the team. However, it’s a must win game for Orton. Orton has won one game in his last eleven starts. There’s good reason for Orton to hear a boo if he turns the ball over or doesn’t convert in the redzone.
- The offensive line is also under the microscope. Orton was sacked five times last week and the Broncos backfield tallied 38 rushing yards. Without more protection and a line that’s in sync, the Broncos have no chance of having the balanced offense that they hoped for.
- The Broncos must first stop the Bengals run before they can think about the pass rush. Cedric Benson is dangerous in the backfield, and the Bengals will rely on him to start the game just to get rookie QB Andy Dalton back in the groove.
- Speaking of Dalton, he’s got one half of NFL experience under his belt. He had to leave last week’s game at halftime because of a wrist injury. Will his nerves catch up with him in week two and is his wrist really ready to go?
- If Champ Bailey does not play, keep an eye on Cassius Vaughn. Vaughn will replace Bailey at left corner. That will put two young guys in the Broncos secondary (safety Rahim Moore is a rookie), to match the two older players in Brian Dawkins and Andre Goodman.
- Along with Vaughn, Lance Ball and Jason Hunter are the “next men up” as John Fox would put it. Should Moreno not be able to go, Ball will split carries with Willis McGahee. With Elvis Dumervil not likely playing, Jason Hunter will join Von Miller as part of the Broncos pass rush.
- Shannon Sharpe will be given his Hall of Fame ring at halftime. His speech is limited to two minutes, but my guess is he will go over.