EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 30: Brandon Stokley #14 of the Denver Broncos celebrates his touchdown against the New York Jets on November 30, 2008 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Broncos defeated the Jets 34-17. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Every Tuesday during the season (or, in this case, Wednesday), we’ll scout out the Cowboys next opponent. This weekend, that opponent is the Denver Broncos.
The Opponent: The Denver Broncos, aka the Broncs, aka the Horsies, aka the Brawn-cose (if you’re Bob Costas doing a comical Spanish accent)
The Line: Cowboys by 3
Last Game: A thorough 23-3 pasting of the Oakland Raiders. The Broncos ran for over 200 yards last week, just like the Cowboys did. Correll Buckhalter and rookie Knowshon Moreno both topped 90 yards rushing individually. The Broncos held JaMarcus Russell to one passing yard in the second half. ONE. Good god. YOU could pass for more yards in a half than that. No joke. If you suited up, took one snap, and threw the ball three feet to Darren McFadden for a two-yard gain, PRESTO. You’re better than JaMarcus. This win shouldn’t even count.
The Coach: Josh McDaniels. Oh, they said he was MAD when he decided to run Jay Cutler out of town! MAD! But look who’s laughing now? The Broncos are undefeated, and only needed a miracle catch and two unfathomably terrible opponents to do it! HE’S CRAZY LIKE A BEAR!
The Offense: Kyle Orton has improved on all of his statistical averages since arriving from Chicago. Thus far, his passer rating is better, he’s throwing for more yards per game, AND more yards per attempt. Still, Orton isn’t the world’s most accurate fellow. He’s never completed more than 60 percent of his passes on the year. You’re gonna hear a lot on Sunday about how “all Orton does is win.” Well, I can assure you, Orton has lost on occasion. And he isn’t pretty in doing so. But the guy can hold his Jack, that’s for sure.
The early success of Denver’s backfield committee allows them to take most of the offensive burden off of Orton during the course of games. The Cowboys, who have been mediocre on run D thus far, will have to do better if they want Denver to rely on Orton to carry them.
The Defense: Statistically, this is the best defense in the NFL. Better than Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or any other traditional defensive stalwart you can think of. Thus far, they’ve allowed a mere 5.3 points per game. Denver also has the league’s best pass defense. But let’s not go nuts with this outfit. Elvis Dumervil and Champ Bailey are excellent players, but this defense got two games against Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell. You become the #1 D in the league by default with those two gentlemen on the docket. Even with Cincy’s turnaround, Denver has yet to face an offense on par with what the Cowboys will bring to Invesco. This will be the truest test yet of whether or not they’re legit.
Key Matchup: Brandon Marshall vs. Mike Jenkins. Mr. Grumpypants broke out for Denver last week and scored a touchdown. He figures to only get better as the season progresses, and his preseason outbursts move farther into the distance. Look out, Mikey.