On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers take on the Denver Broncos in a rare showdown of two 6-0 teams. Mile High Report was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Broncos and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: Peyton Manning has struggled at times during his career, but never this badly or for as long. His offensive line has protected him fairly well (only 58 total pressures according to Pro Football Focus, sixth fewest in the league), and he still has a strong group of receivers led by Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. Can you pinpoint why Manning's play has fallen off so drastically this season?
First and foremost he's changing systems. There is some truth to a decline in ability from a physical standpoint, but that is not the major problem. He's ran the same system (mostly) for his entire 17 year career in the NFL. Kubiak's way of running the offense from play calls to route combinations, to audbles, etc is very different from what Manning is used to.
The other big problem is the lack of talent on the offensive line. This affects Peyton's play in a couple of ways:
1) The run game is not successful which in Kubiak's offense is what opens up the pass. When you can't threaten a defense with your running game, you allow them to dedicate defenders more to the passing game.
2) Manning is just now six weeks in starting to get comfortable with the line's pass blocking. He's hurried a lot of his throws (which isn't new) because of it, but coupled with the system being different has caused some very poor decision making on his part.
APC: Denver probably has the NFL's best pass rush, with Von Miller and DeMarcus Ware forming the scariest tandem of edge rushers in football. Ware missed the Broncos' last game with a back injury. Do you expect him to play in Sunday's game, and how does his availability affect Denver's defense?
While Ware is a big time pass rusher, I honestly don't think it matters one iota if he can go or not. The coaches have the luxury of only playing him if he's ready because his backup Shaquil Barrett is almost as phenomenal as Ware.
Either way, we'll have a big time pass rush from the right side regardless of who suits up. If Ware does get to play you'll probably still see Barrett get 10-20% of the snaps.
APC: What adjustments do you believe Denver may make coming out of its bye week?
Defensively there is really nothing that needs to be adjusted. Until a team finds a weakness in our defense, they just need to keep playing their game and dictating the game to the offenses they face.
Offensively we've quietly seen over the past two games an uptick in the running production. I expect to see the same dedication to the running game that we've had all season.
I expect our offense to continue developing the passing system (as they really are at this point building it as they go). The biggest thing the team needs here is for Manning to minimize the mistakes and find a third target. Sanders and Thomas get the vast majority of targets and we really need the threat of a 3rd weapon to open things up.
We'd like to thank Mile High Report for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there, as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Broncos. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Packers vs. Broncos.