Five things to look for in Redskins vs. Broncos plus a prediction:
1. This could probably go into every game preview in this and every other season but turnovers will be critical. The Broncos are plus-7 in the takeaway-giveaway ratio while the Redskins are at minus-1. Denver lost the turnover battle against the Colts on Sunday, giving it away three times and getting just one takeaway. The Broncos also lost the ball when Peyton Manning was sacked and the ball went out of the end zone for a safety. Not coincidentally, that game is the Broncos’ only loss.
2. Redskins fans will probably be relieved if the game is close at halftime, but if that’s the case it’s a typical Broncos game. Denver has outscored its opponents by just a combined 24 points in the first halves of their games (128-104). That means their average lead at halftime has been just three or four points. But Denver blows the doors off of the other team in the second half, piling up a margin of 77 points (170-93, 11 points/game). So root for the Redskins to have a solid halftime lead and maybe they will be able to hang on.
3. There is simply no excuse for the Redskins to kick to Trindon Holliday. Last week Devin Hester had a flashback to his former consistent brilliance. Holliday is in his prime right now. He has a touchdown on punt returns and he averaged 11.4 yards a pop. His kickoff return stat line features a 105-yard TD return and a dazzling 34.9-yard average.
4. The Denver running backs aren’t much to be concerned about as the team averages just 3.8 yards per rush. But running just isn’t a sidelight to Peyton Manning’s passing. They have run the ball 200 times (the league average per team is 178) and Knowshawn Moreno has a nose for the end zone with eight touchdown carries. It seems that whenever a team starts getting mesmerized by Manning along comes Moreno or Monte Ball to pop a run for a key first down. They probably aren’t going to get loose for a long run—the long run among the RB’s is just 25 yards—but their pieces to the puzzle that has the Broncos on pace to shatter the all-time single season scoring record.
5. Can the Redskins’ pass rush get to Manning? The Colts sacked him four times last Sunday and there’s no doubt that the Redskins will be taking a good, long look at the film from that game. One of the most amazing aspect of Manning’s and the Colts’ season on offense has been the fact that Ryan Clady, who has three Pro Bowls and two All-Pro honors on his resume, was able to play in just the first two games before going out for the season with a foot injury. Chris Clark, an undrafted four-year veteran, has filled in and the offense hasn’t missed a beat. Perhaps there is a way to exploit that matchup with Brian Orakpo and perhaps another pass rusher like Darryl Tapp or Rob Jackson.
I think that the Redskins can make this one interesting and they have a very outside chance of pulling off the upset. But it’s too small a chance for me to predict it.
Broncos 45, Redskins 35