By Rick Brown
This is the last stop of a three-game road trip for the Denver Broncos (3-4), as the team travels to take on the Philadelphia Eagles (7-1). The Broncos have been unable to win on the road so far this season, and they’re hoping to turn that around on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
Denver’s offense has been missing in action, while the defense continues to play at an elite level. The Eagles are packed with talent on both sides of the ball and can compete as a full team.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-1)
The Eagles finished the 2016 season with a 7-9 record. Rookie Carson Wentz finished with pretty average stats as he threw for 3,782 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. During the offseason, the Eagles made it a point to find more weapons on offense and added wide receivers Ashlon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, running back LaGarrette Blount, and this week traded for Jay Ajayi from the Miami Dolphins.
On defense, the Eagles brought in Chris Long and traded Jordan Matthews to Buffalo to acquire Ronald Darby. Philadelphia was active during the offseason and it appears to be paying off, as they are arguably the best team in the NFL with only one loss. Wentz is performing well and is doing a great job of leading this team.
The Eagles rank third in the NFL in total offense. The team is 11th in passing yards and fifth in rushing yards. The offense is also scoring 29 points a game and ranks fourth in the league in scoring. This is a powerful offense and will be a tough matchup against the Broncos defense. Wentz is having a career year with 2,063 yards passing along with 19 touchdowns and only five interceptions. He has already surpassed his touchdown total from a year ago.
Zach Ertz has become Wentz’ favorite target, as he has 43 receptions for 528 yards and six touchdowns. The running game is anchored by Blount and will be bolstered by speedster Ajayi. The Broncos did a good job of containing the Chiefs’ weapons on Monday, but there may be more talent on this Eagles offense.
The Eagles defense is a bit misleading. The team is ranked 14th overall in yards against, 26th in passing yards against and first in rushing yards against. Philadelphia has four wins of 10 or more points; this drastic difference in defense could be because teams are playing catch-up against the high-octane offense.
Fletcher Cox continues to wreck offensive lines and should have a few sacks against the Broncos. This defense is good at forcing turnovers and has already collected nine interceptions through eight games. Regardless of who is playing quarterback for the Broncos—Trevor Siemian or Brock Osweiler—the Broncos will need to play mistake-free football if the team stands any chance of earning a victory.
Players To Watch
This is a talented roster and should cause a lot of problems for the Broncos. While Denver’s defense was able to contain Tyreek Hill and Kareen Hunt of the Chiefs, Travis Kelce still caught seven balls for 133 yards and one touchdown. Ertz is starting to emerge as a consistent threat, and the Broncos cannot find a scheme to stop tight ends. Look for Ertz to have a big game against the Broncos. On the other side of the ball, this defensive line featuring Cox and Brandon Graham should overpower Denver’s offensive line. Expect another dismal experience from the Broncos offense against this stout defense.
The outlook for Broncos fans is not a good one. This team put up only 19 points against a Chiefs defense that ranked near the bottom of the league. The Eagles defense is better than the Chiefs’, so expect a big game from the defensive unit. The Broncos will remain without a victory on the road when the Eagles win 31-9.