The Denver Broncos defense will be tested by the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. The prime-time showdown will be the clash of two 6-0 teams. According to the Star Tribune, it will be the first clash of unbeaten teams since New England (8-0) at Indy (7-0) on November 4, 2007. The Patriots beat Payton Manning and the Colts 24-20. Manning will try to lead another undefeated team to victory.
The Broncos are coming off of another defense-inspired win against the Cleveland Browns. The defense is playing like a unit committed to carrying the Broncos to the Super Bowl. The only thing that may stand in the way of a victory Sunday night could be Manning.
In the six wins that the Broncos have recorded, Manning has looked both sharp and horrendous. His mechanics seemingly go from bad to worse when he’s being flushed from the pocket. The pinpoint accuracy that has become his trademark has suffered. Through those games, the Broncos’ signal caller has thrown only seven touchdowns and has 10 interceptions. His completion percentage is a respectable 61.6 percent, but he seems to have trouble reading defenses. His passer rating hasn’t been at this point (72.5) since he was a rookie.
Enter the Broncos defense.
The Sunday night game against the Green Bay Packers is not going to be the deadly shootout that people are expecting. It will start out as a defensive struggle spearheaded by the Denver defense. The unit has become the heart and soul of the team.
Both the Broncos and the Packers defenses are at the top of the heap when it comes to points per game. The Packers are sitting at 16.8 while the Broncos are at 17. The kicker is in yards per game. The Packers are giving up 355 yards while the Broncos are on top of the NFL with only 281. Both units are stingy in their own ways.
Sunday will be just the 13th matchup in the regular season between Green Bay and Denver. The Packers own a 6-5-1 advantage in the series and have won five of the last six games—including the last time the teams faced off in 2011.
The Broncos will need Peyton Manning to be the Peyton of yore. He will need to be the quarterback who yells “Omaha!” and makes the Packers quake in their cleats. But the past six games have not revealed that player. Peyton has obviously slowed down and the game has gotten quicker. He has taken most of the blame at times and at others he feels it’s the entire offense.
The Packers are preparing for the Broncos as if Manning is the same player he was in his MVP days. Coach Mike McCarthy isn’t taking him for granted.
“We’re preparing for Peyton as the same player that he’s always been,” coach McCarthy said, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “What I think you’re seeing is a change in philosophy and scheme. With that, there will be some things differently Sunday than what we’ve prepared for. This is a very potent offense, particularly with Peyton Manning and his ability to do a number of different things at a high level.”
As a historical footnote to a historically rare game, Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning would tie the NFL record for regular-season victories as a starting quarterback with a Broncos win, and he’d do it against the record-holder’s old team. Brett Favre, who spent 16 of his 20 seasons with the Packers, piled up 186 regular-season victories.
All of the undefeated teams are getting prime-time coverage. If Peyton and the Broncos can win Sunday night, he can avenge that loss in 2007. The Denver D may have to lend a huge hand.
[Feature Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images]