Denver Broncos mascot Miles reacts in the third quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Broncos defeated the Raiders 37-21. (Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)
The Denver Broncos (3-0) host the Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) on Sunday for a 2:25 p.m. MDT kickoff. The Broncos are looking for their 12th 4-0 start in franchise history.
Here are our five keys to a Broncos’ victory:
1. Stop the Run
For the second week in a row, the Broncos are playing the No. 1 rushing team. The Eagles come in averaging a staggering 209 yards per game on the ground. By comparison, the league’s second leading rushing team, the Carolina Panthers, are putting up 151 rushing yards per game. Like Terrelle Pryor and Darren McFadden last week, the Eagles have a deadly quarterback-runnnig back combination in Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy. The Broncos have held opponents to a league best 43.3 yards per game, but they’re playing a team that’s gone three-and-out just once this season.
2. Touchdowns in the Red Zone
With some good execution and a sprinkle of good luck, the Eagles are one team that can keep pace with the Broncos’ offense. They’re ranked 8th in points per game, but they would be ranked near the top of the pack if it weren’t for some costly turnovers. That’s why the Broncos can’t settle for field goals this week, nor can they afford turnovers. The Eagles are ranked 8th in red zone defense, allowing five touchdowns on 13 possessions.
3. Keep DeSean Jackson in Check
DeSean Jackson had over 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in his first two weeks. The Chiefs slowed him down last week by playing a lot of press coverage with a safety helping over the top. Former Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will likely draw Jackson, but he’s going to need some help deep. There’a a reason why Jackson is second in the NFL in receiving.
4. Put the Pedal to the Metal
Because the Broncos are playing at home, they have to use the altitude to their advantage. With the Eagles running a fast-paced offense and not being accustomed to the thin air, they will likely slow down by the fourth quarter. The Broncos, however, shouldn’t. The Eagles’ pass defense is ranked 29th so Peyton Manning should be sniffing out another career day.
5. Lace ‘Em Up and Run, Run, Run Late
Last week the Chiefs took 8 minutes off the fourth quarter clock by utilizing their run game effectively. A few dump off passes to Knowshon Moreno would do the trick as well. Again, keeping the Eagles off the field is of utmost importance.