Online sports betting sites are saying this one is going to come down to the wire, as the Denver Broncos opened as slight 2-point favorites over the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 7 Thursday Night Football matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium.
Kickoff is set for 8:20pm EST on October 18th.
Denver’s offense goes as far as their running game will take them. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been too far, as they only score 20 points per game. Without their success on the ground, though, it would be even less.
— NFL (@NFL) October 2, 2018
Led by Phillip Lindsay, the Broncos produce 124.2 rushing yards per game.
The Broncos have been forced to rely on Lindsay and Royce Freeman this season, as Case Keenum has not been good. The pivot has only mustered 1,687 yards through the air (14th) and 8 touchdowns with 8 interceptions, resulting in an 80.5 passer rating.
Earl sold Case Keenum a dream and a seam route … PICK! Lol. Best In the game.
— Will Blackmon (@WillBlackmon) September 9, 2018
Meanwhile, Lindsay has rushed for 346 yards (21st) and one touchdowns this season. Freeman has added 272 yards on the ground, as well.
But the Broncos will have to get back to feeding Lindsay and Freeman after they only managed 40 combined rushing yards on an insufficient 13 carries. Getting these two rolling early will be pivotal in Week 7.
The Broncos are the first team since the 1978 Buffalo Bills to give up at least 270 rushing yards in back-to-back games. Brutal. Something’s got to change. #9sports
— Mike Klis (@MikeKlis) October 15, 2018
Not only does Denver struggle to score points this season, but they can’t keep their opponent out of the endzone, either. The Broncos allow 25.7 points per game, which ranks 22nd in the NFL.
And what’s most concerning is the 593 rushing yards they have allowed in the last two games. There are 14 teams in the NFL who have not allowed that many yards on the ground all season.
The only real bright spot from their defense over the last two weeks was Bradley Chubb finally showcasing his pass-rushing ability, recording three sacks against the Rams in Week 6.
— Denver Broncos (@Broncos) October 15, 2018
Broncos vs Cardinals Statistical Comparison
|20 (26th)||PPG||13.7 (31st)|
|387.7 (12th)||YPG||220.5 (32nd)|
|124.2 (10th)||Rushing YPG||64 (32nd)|
|263.5 (16th)||Passing YPG||156.5 (31st)|
|25.7 (22nd)||PPG Allowed||23.2 (14th)|
|403.8 (27th)||YPG Allowed||394.3 (24th)|
|161.3 (32nd)||Rushing YPG Allowed||151.2 (31st)|
|242.5 (11th)||Passing YPG Allowed||243.2 (12th)|
|-2 (T23rd)||Turnover Differential||+1 (T13th)|
Fortunately, Denver’s defense avoids any sort of offensive juggernaut this week, when they meet the Cardinals. Arizona is scoring just 13.7 PPG, which is the second-fewest in the league.
When you can’t move the chains, finding your way into the end zone is quite the task. Josh Rosen and company are learning this lesson in 2018. They rank 31st in passing, only tossing for 156.5 yards per game, and 32nd in rushing, managing just 64 yards per game on the ground.
Josh Rosen throws an INTpic.twitter.com/BArnXE7r2t
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
Rosen cannot be to blame here. The rookie wasn’t supposed to start this season, as Sam Bradford was expected to occupy the job while Rosen learned from the sideline. But Bradford’s 62.5 passer rating through the first three weeks forced the Cardinals to alter that plan.
Rosen has 626 passing yards with a 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, good for a 75.5 passer rating.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 23, 2018
Rosen would love a little help from his running game. But David Johnson has totaled just 297 rushing yards this year, averaging a pitiful 3.2 yards per carry.
Facing the league’s worst rush defense could be just what Arizona needs to get their innefective running game on track, though.
Defensively, the Cardinals are a pretty mediocre group. They allow 23.2 points per game, which ranks 14th in the league.
“We have to do a better job of getting off the field on third down.” pic.twitter.com/DB5WU8BZt1
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) October 16, 2018
They’ve been awful against the run, surrendering an embarrassing 151.2 yards per game on the ground (the most in the league). Defending the pass has been much easier, though. Arizona is surrendering just 243.2 yards per game through the air (12th).
They should be expecting to see a lot of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman in Week 7.