Packers Periscope: Week 8 at Denver Broncos

Up periscope looking at the Packers week 8 opponent, the Denver Broncos

The Past

While the Packers won their last meeting against the Denver Broncos in 2011, the most memorable play might have been when everyone thought Donald Driver’s career was over after being whiplashed while blocking for an Aaron Rodgers touchdown scramble.  While he had to be helped off the field, amazingly he managed to get back into the game and was able to finish out the season. 

Quarterback Kyle Orton was intercepted 3 times, including one pick 6 by Charles Woodson and was pulled for Tim Tebow, who didn’t fare much better.  Orton might have had the last laugh since he was cut by the Broncos and signed by the Kansas City Chiefs, who somehow engineered the only regular season loss the Packers saw in 2011. 

Aaron Rodgers on the other hand had maybe the game of his life (which is saying something) throwing 4 touchdowns and running in another 2 for a 134.5 QB rating. 

 

The Present

Overall Team Efficiency

Packers

Broncos

39.0

6.2%

Offense

Overall

21.8%

-28.7%

Run

2.5%

-29.3%

Pass

50.7%

-21.9%

Defense

Overall

-14.4%

-31.0%

Run

-7.8%

-17.4%

Pass

-18.9%

-42.6%

Special Teams

2.9%

2.7%

Quarterback (DYAR)

495

-333

 

(All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders, click here for a detailed description of DVOA and DYAR.  And as always defensive DVOA is the inverse of offensive DVOA so negative numbers are better.)  

Talk about unstoppable force meets and immovable object.  The marquee matchup will be Aaron Rodgers and the 4th ranked offense going up against the Broncos 1st ranked defense.  However (and a stark reversal of the Packers the last couple years), the offense only has to not screw it up because it’s going to be very hard for Peyton Manning and the 32nd ranked Denver offense to do much against the Packers 4th ranked defense. 

Fortunately for the Packers, the Denver offenses statistically matches poorly; the Packers defense is ranked 17th against the run, but the Broncos have the worst running attack in the league.  The Packers excel at getting to the quarterback with 23, only 2nd to the Broncos, and the Broncos have one of the worst offensive lines.  Finally Peyton Manning just hasn’t been the Peyton Manning that we all know, Peyton currently holds the worst DYAR in the league and one of the bottom 5 QB ratings in the league.  While Peyton still needs to be feared for his ability to get his team into favorable matchups, he appears to no longer be able to take advantage of his matchups. 

 

The Future

The elephant in the room for the Broncos is obviously what to do with Peyton Manning.  While Manning is statistically one of the worst staring QBs in the league, he does get the “AJ Hawk” benefit of the doubt, meaning he gets his teammates in the right place and in a position to make plays, even though he no longer can make plays for himself.  While the best case scenario would be that the Broncos win the Super Bowl this year and Peyton can ride off into the sunset a winner, the Broncos defensive brilliance is unlikely to be sustainable; the best QB the defense has faced might in fact be Derek Carr, and no team can rely on pick 6s, last minute interceptions and sack fumbles to end games. 

Assuming Peyton fails to win a Super Bowl, does he give it one more go or call it a career?  Packers fans can probably relate the most of any franchise after the messy divorce with Brett Favre; Peyton, even in his regressed state still probably gives the Broncos the best chance to win a Super Bowl in 2016 (as Favre did in 2008) and if he decides to play one more season, I can’t imagine the Broncos would cut/trade him but I also doubt he would be any better than he is now. 

The second wrinkle is that current incumbent back up quarterback Brock Osweiler is on a contract year and has shown absolutely nothing since he never gets to play under Manning.  Will the Broncos do what the Packers did and go with the young talent that they’ve nurtured for the last 3.5 years or cut bait and start all over? The Broncos will likely be picking low in this year’s draft so there’s no assurance that they’d be able to land a star quarterback without trading away a significant amount of capital. 

The other issue is that Peyton Manning demanded a player friendly contract and got a player friendly contract from the Broncos; of his $21.5 million salary in 2016, $19 is guaranteed meaning cutting Manning essentially saves no money but the Broncos are going to need all that money with Von Miller entering the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and after taking the 5th year option will be looking to cash in, likely as the highest paid linebacker if not the highest paid defensive player in the NFL.

The Broncos might be one of the few teams in recent memory that actually might be “one player away from the Super Bowl”; unfortunately that one player is a quarterback and getting one is going to be the most difficult decisions GM John Elway has ever faced.  At this point, only one team has gone from a hall of fame quarterback to another hall of fame quarterback, and the Packers will likely make that two when Rodgers finally retires.  The Broncos will try to make that 3, but I wouldn’t bet on it. 

 

 

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Comments (39)

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EdsLaces's picture

October 30, 2015 at 12:06 pm

After alllll this talk about how terrible Manning is if he comes out and torches the pack I'm going to be very disappointed.

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 02:21 pm

It's a distinct possibility; its not as if Philip Rivers really did most of his damage throwing 20+ yards, he kept the chains moving with a lot of quick passes up the middle. I will say that the Packers had to respect Philips' deep ball while they probably don't have to with Manning. While Manning's arm strength has obviously declined, you have to wonder if it matters all that much when throwing short, after all even a slow ball will reach it's target quickly if it doesn't have to travel far.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 30, 2015 at 04:13 pm

Arm strength gets the ball there quicker on short throws too.

Denvers offense is facing similar issues as the Packer offense is facing, but for different reasons. A lot of 8 in the box and all the coverage in the short/intermediate routes. For Denver due to Mannings complete lack of arm strength, while the Packers due to Jordy being out for the season and a lesser extent injuries to Adams and Cobb (they don't provide a legit deep threat a la Jordy). Packers outlook is better since they have a strong running game and healthy WR starting this week.

Both Defenses will or should play heavy defenses geared to the run and short passing games.

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 06:47 pm

Of course, but the effect is minimized the shorter the throw. I would also guess that ball placement is easier on shorter throws when you have less velocity. By that I mean in order to get a really accurate deep ball, a quarterback needs to put a lot of spin on the ball to keep the nose of the ball on target. On shorter throws you can probably get away with less spin; I do recall watching Manning play the last couple of years and his passes have started to wobble, but on shorter throws it didn't seem to matter as much.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 30, 2015 at 07:31 pm

I would say shorter throws require more accuracy since the windows are generally much smaller and the ability to throw a receiver open is much smaller. Mannings passes have always had a little wobble, but its much worse now than ever. He's never had that perfect spiral. That's always been mitigated to a large degree playing in a dome and at least early in the year at altitude in good weather. Its part of the reason he's also been generally pretty bad when having to play in the elements.

The ONLY thing Manning has going for him now is his QB IQ. Which needless to say is very high. But to actually play the QB position on the field, he's as good as done. Serve him up.

Matthews right next to Raji in the A gap all day and Manning won't have time to throw even a slant. Totally collapse the the pocket before it has a chance to become a pocket.

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porupack's picture

October 31, 2015 at 12:33 am

"Generally bad when having to play in the elements"? Manning?
This is an unfair retro-view of Manning seen over the past year, probably a little anti-Manning bias. I agree some of his passes weren't the prettiest, but he was crisp and accurate. If he had a bad game, we remember them b/c of post season when refs relaxed and allow far more physical contact, and Colts DBs weren't able to adjust, or Oline yielded too much pressure. The other weakness was his lack of mobility, so he "looked" bad, but that really shouldn't be a ding on the QB, but more on the protection. Its sad to see his decline, b/c he was amazing in his prime. Wished he was still there and it would be one last true QB duel tomorrow b/w Rogers and Manning. Still will be great to see them both on the field.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 31, 2015 at 10:01 am

If you love Manning so much go cheer the Broncos. His struggles in the elements are well chronicled and a large part of why he's only won 1 SB. At his best he was like a machine, if you like that kinda player that's you choice. I prefer human beings playing.

He should have retired after the seachicken at him for lunch. Last year and this were a last money grab. But at least you'll get to watch EVERY commercial he continues to make for the next 30 yrs.

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porupack's picture

October 31, 2015 at 10:57 am

Maybe well chronicled or maybe over-exaggerated for news. I thought it was overblown, except of course the classic games against the Patriots in the cold, which just made a good story.

I like manning, because I like good football at high level and respect those who perform. I'm not prone to personalities except anti-jerks.
I don't particularly like Brady, but have highest respect for his performance and leadership of play.
Manning; a machine? Well, he could read and adjust at a level few ever attained if anyone. So if methodically dissecting opponent is a machine, ok, then I guess.
I'm clearly for packers, and hope for great game with Manning at high level, if even it is one of his last.

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Evan's picture

October 30, 2015 at 12:18 pm

Liked this line from today's Grantland: "DVOA basically has the Broncos in the same space as the 3-4 Bills; the Packers simply have been at another level so far this season."

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 02:24 pm

One important thing that I didn't include in the article is straight from football outsiders: "Offense is more consistent from year to year than defense, and offensive performance is easier to project than defensive performance. Special teams is less consistent than either." The Broncos have been relying on interceptions, fumble recoveries and general good luck as well having a good defense. While I would be inclined to believe that the Broncos defense will be good against the Packers, sooner or later the ball will bounce the other way. You simply can't expect to win many games this way.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 30, 2015 at 06:03 pm

I heard Denver scored 2 defensive TD's and only 1 offensive TD in the last 2 games combined. That being the case, w/ the Packers having very good ball security, its hard to believe Denver will be able to score much against the Packers D. While at least the Packer offense should be able to score a fairly well, maybe not a lot. Manning is throw so many picks, whereas Rodgers doesn't. That points to a big Packer advantage. Denver is going to have to get turnovers against a very turnover averse offense to compete.

I expect to see a lot of Matthews at the LOS in an A gap right next to Raji. Put him right in Manning's face. He might not be able to get the ball out of his hands fast enough, even on a 3 step drop.

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 06:49 pm

I think you're gonna see a version of the defense that the Packers used against the 9ers; basically sell out to stop the run and get to the passer and live with the big completions over the defense's head. I'd guess this strategy will give Manning a couple big plays but the question is can they keep up with the Packers offense?

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 30, 2015 at 07:43 pm

Maybe, but I don't see the Packers having to sell out to stop the run. I would play the run on the way to getting to Manning. The Denver OL is not very good, so I'm not too concerned w/ them being able to have much success running either way. I would go right at Manning HARD and immediately. Even if Matthew runs into the backfield slightly blocked he might get a lot of tackles on run plays, not to speak of the amount of really quick pressure he'll put on Manning.

Packers should play 8 in the box as much to defend the pass than the run.

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Bohj's picture

October 30, 2015 at 01:17 pm

Imagine two good safeties roaming around for us. Yeah......we have that now. Two to three more seconds for that pass rush to get home at least. Burnett>banjo or Hyde.

I don't see our D getting torched like Rivers did to us. Rivers still has an arm. I say......we jump routes and force Manning to throw deep. I believe the only reason we didn't do that with the chargers was because banjo was the insurance back there. Burnett pushes our D to that next level.

Hope Raji is back too. Apparently Manning is more horrible if you move him off the spot.

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 06:52 pm

I think Raji will be a huge impact if he can play well. Getting consistent pressure up the middle is a huge issue for all quarterbacks, even those who are mobile. If you look at how the Packers offensive line has been built, it's one where the center of the line is solid and the tackles are more likely to redirect the pass rushers wide rather than simply stonewalling them. Now add the fact that Manning couldn't get away from the pocket even 10 years ago and it becomes that much more important to give him space to step up.

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porupack's picture

October 31, 2015 at 01:35 am

Great point. Also, if Manning is going to succeed, we would suppose he would work quick passing game to neutralize the rush. Therefore, all Dlinemen should penetrate for 2 seconds then stick both hands up in the air to take away passing lanes and bat or tip balls. That might have the biggest impact on Manning's day.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 31, 2015 at 12:25 pm

I like the idea of rushing for x amount of seconds and then getting their have up.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 31, 2015 at 04:29 pm

I mentioned earlier in the week, quite a bit earlier, that the Packers should run Datone and Peppers inside a lot against Manning to disrupt passing lanes. Daniels and Raji are too easy to throw over w/ Manning being 6'5 to Daniels and Raji at 6' and 6'2 respectively. They wont affect Manning much if at all, but Datone and Pepper w/ their length and height can do that.

Should also have Matthews right on the LOS next to the NT in an A gap often blitzing. He's way to quick and can get immediate penetration on Manning.

Mix those schemes up and Manning might have trouble getting the ball out on even 3 step drops.

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PaulRosik's picture

October 30, 2015 at 02:46 pm

In their last game before the bye, Manning did have 290 passing and a td, and they ran for over 150 yards as well. But Manning did have three picks. If the Packers can do what they have done so far this season, limit teams in the red zone and get the turnovers - they can limit this offense. Then they just need to find ways to score points on this defense. I trust Rodgers and this staff with an extra week of prep to find some ways to move the ball and score enough to win. But it will be a tough road game.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 30, 2015 at 07:36 pm

I hope we can get an effective run load from both of our RBs this game. The Broncos Pass Rush Specialist(s) worry me.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 31, 2015 at 05:21 pm

75 yds on one play that he threw the ball 20 yds, w/ Sanders outrunning everyone. Take that away and its a pedestrian or worse 215. That was also the ONLY TD Denver scored on offense the past 2 wks.

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4thand1's picture

October 30, 2015 at 03:16 pm

Rodgers should be at his best. He doesn't want an aging QB to show him up. Remember a couple years ago when the Pack went into Houston(when they were a good team) , AR torched em with 5 TD's.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 30, 2015 at 04:56 pm

I was at that game.The only Packers game I've ever seen in person.Man, did I pick the right game. Paid over $325 for my ticket.

I don't think that had anything to do with Schaub or the Texans. A lot of outsiders were writing off the Pack and questioning if they could bounce back.

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EdsLaces's picture

October 30, 2015 at 05:51 pm

The game I like to call the Casey Hayward coming out party ..

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hobbes's picture

October 30, 2015 at 06:59 pm

I wonder how much Rodgers actually cares about beating Manning. For one, the Manning vs. Brady debate really excludes any other player from that rivarly and I feel like Rodgers has never really had a QB rival (Cutler would make the most sense, but come on it's Cutler).

A couple years back Rodgers did say it was a little odd when people asked him if he wanted to beat other quarterbacks; his rationale was that he wanted to beat other defenses since he never directly plays against quarterbacks.

Now Manning is one of the best to ever play so maybe there's something a little more, but I don't see any glaring reason why he'd want to one up Manning.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 30, 2015 at 07:10 pm

Rodgers has no rivalry QB. Certainly not Cutler w/ his record vs the Packers. Can't in anyway call that a rivalry.

I do think Rodgers may have a chip that he wants to show that he is better than any QB in the NFL. He did so last year beating Brady. And this is his chance to do it against Manning, tho he's a shadow of himself. But doing so in the same game and against that D would certainly make a point.

Hard to say to what degree this might be a "chip on the shoulder" w/ him tho.

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NickPerry's picture

October 31, 2015 at 05:42 am

Especially with all the love Brady is getting right now, it's enough to make me vomit. Rodgers like all QB's has a ego and I for one think he's still the best. I hope "The Chip" is bigger than ever.

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4thand1's picture

October 30, 2015 at 08:42 pm

Every show I've seen so far, most people are picking GB. Except for ol skippy. The prick never liked Rodgers, but its all for show and gets people's blood boiling. As far as the chip goes, AR will always play with it. Ever see how defensive he gets when someone mentions his size? There are only a handful of good to great QB's playing today, and he's top 2. Gotta give Brady credit, he's on fire. There's a reason AR wants to play 10 more years, he wants to be remembered as one of the greatest ever.

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NickPerry's picture

October 31, 2015 at 05:49 am

My hat's off to you if you can even watch that guy. Meeting Skip Bayless in a dark alley is still on my "Bucket List". He's nothing more than Sports TV version of Howard Stern except it's not what outrageous thing he'll say next, but what stupid thing he'll say next.

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NickPerry's picture

October 31, 2015 at 06:04 am

After watching part of the New England game Thursday Night a thought came to my mind. The Packers should use Ty Montgomery the same way the Patriots use Dion Lewis. I understand Lewis is a RB, smaller, and probably quicker. New England doesn't run him much, he's used as a receiver more often than not. The last 3 games Lewis has run the ball 15 times and caught 17 passes. Montgomery could be used much more effectively if he's lined up all over including the backfield. I think we were on the verge of starting to see that against the Chargers. I still think Montgomery could prove to be one of the biggest steals of the 2015 draft and one of TT best picks...EVER! Get the ball in his hands, the Packers WR are excellent blockers and I believe it could give the offense a real boost.

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Funcrusher's picture

October 31, 2015 at 06:31 am

Agreed. I'm hoping once Davante Adams comes back, they'll be able to move Montgomery around more. They're gonna need good match ups against the Broncos so this would be a good week to start.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 31, 2015 at 10:16 am

With all the WR injuries this year Montgomery has been needed at WR. But I said at the time of the draft that Monty would take over Cobb's backfield role and possibly expand on it. I still have no doubt that's what's in store for Monty in the future.

Everyone has wanted the Packers to draft a scatback type RB. Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Ty Montgomery.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 31, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Seeing Dion Lewis makes me miss Jonathan Franklin. Man, he had a bright future.

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NickPerry's picture

November 01, 2015 at 05:57 am

I know!!! I was looking at the 2013 draft and why the hell TT didn't draft Jamie Collins (Love That Guy) and saw Franklin listed as one our 4th rounders. Franklin in this offense would have been outstanding and without taking anything away from Eddie would have been the #1 RB in this offense.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 31, 2015 at 06:20 am

For me, it is the question what kind of game will Peyton and Aaron bring with them into the match... It is more likely Aaron will bring better game, and difference between defenses will be with no consequences... I think, the turnover ratio will decide the winner...

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm

I'm more worried about our WR group than Rodgers. They need to be on their A-game.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 31, 2015 at 03:35 pm

Agree. Hope Montgomery plays but that looks doubtful.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 31, 2015 at 03:38 pm

Deleted

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4thand1's picture

October 31, 2015 at 08:25 am

SOB, Raji is listed as questionable. Last year torn biceps, hopefully he doesn't injure his groin worse.

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