Posted Tue Oct 28th by Monty
Aiming for a return to their winning ways, and a victory after their bye week for the sixth year in a row, the Denver Broncos (4-3) return to action on Sunday at INVESCO Field at Mile High when they face the Miami Dolphins (3-4). Kickoff is set for 2:05 p.m. MST.
Denver entered its bye week with a winning record for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. After a 3-0 start, the club has lost 3 of their last 4 games, including a 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football. Despite recent struggles, the Broncos stand in first place in the AFC West over San Diego, which owns a 3-5 record and has this week off after a 37-32 loss to New Orleans in London.
Led by first-year Head Coach Tony Sparano, the Dolphins visit Denver after forcing four turnovers and scoring 18 unanswered points to earn a 25-16 win at home against Buffalo on Sunday. Oddly enough, this week’s game marks the Broncos’ third consecutive home contest against a team from the state of Florida with the club having hosted Tampa Bay and Jacksonville in consecutive games in Weeks 5 and 6.
Post-Bye Week Success
The Broncos have been one of the NFL’s strongest teams after the bye week since it was introduced by the NFL in 1990. Their 15-4 (.789) record after the bye is the best by an AFC squad (T-2nd in NFL) with that mark including an 11-2 (.846) home record.
Denver, which is one victory away from 400 all-time wins (regular season and postseason), has won seven of its last eight games played after the bye week since 2000. Its five-game winning streak after the bye marks the third-longest active streak in the league.
Sunday’s game features the only two rookies in the NFL to start each of their team’s games at left tackle in Denver’s Ryan Clady (12th overall, Boise State) and Miami’s Jake Long (1st overall, Michigan). Clady, who has yet to give up a sack and has been penalized just twice, has helped the Broncos’ offense rank second in the league in yards per game (381.9) while posting an AFC-best 4.6 yards per rush.
Turnovers tell the tale
The Broncos are suffering a plague of turnovers on offense, something they’ll need to correct if they’re going to win against a Dolphins squad that forced four turnovers against a previously well-managed Bills offense. The Broncos have the second ranked offense in the league, but have only scored 7, 17, 13, and 19 points in the past four games, largely due to multiple turnovers.
Defense and Special Teams Improving
Defensively, the Broncos have totaled 11 sacks in their last three games. That mark ties for the most by any NFL team in its previous three contests and includes three from defensive end Elvis Dumervil, a native of Miami.
On special teams, kicker Matt Prater is tied for the NFL lead in 50+yard field goals (4-4). The Estero High School (Estero, Fla.) and Central Florida product has made 13-of-14 (.929) field goal attempts this year.
Key to the game
The Broncos need to avoid turnovers at all costs. With team captain Champ Bailey out due to injury, this shaky defense will be missing its biggest playmaker. The offense needs to bail the defense out, put a lot of points on the board, and avoid giving Miami a short field. Chad Pennington is deadly accurate and will chew up yards; the Broncos need to force them to earn every point with long drives in between Denver scoring strikes.