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Published on 10/28/2008 at Tue Oct 28 14:15.
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Broncos (4-3) vs. Dolphins (3-4)
INVESCO Field at Mile High
Sun, Nov 2, 2008
2:05 PM MST CBS4

Preview | Scouting Report | Predictions
Injury Report | Weather | Tickets

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.

Rookie Tackles
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.

  • Person

    These rookie tackles will be needed to stop Joey Porter who is having a monster year

  • ryan

    If you guys could trade Clady for Long right now would you do it? Basically who do you think is better at this point in their young career’s? I think Clady will turn out to be the better of the two, and possibly the best in the NFL in the near future.

  • Awesome, Austin

    If bring up how much each guy costs, Clady is by far the best value in the draft. And looks to me will be a Bronco/ NFL player for a very long time.

  • dee

    I’ve been experimenting with Torain in Madden 09 and Barrett at the starting free safety spot… so far the first game of the season has delivered an 49 -7 crushing of the Raiders.

  • dee

    I’m also going to experiment with trying a 46 defence, I’ll keep you all posted… so far the 3-4 defence has been successful for me. I’m linning up Woodyard as the MLB along with trading my 1st pick, Webster and an 2nd for Patrick Willis from the 49er’s.

  • Rob4Broncos

    We’re all relieved to know that our defensive woes can be cured by sending a few picks away and getting one of the best young LBs in the NFL. Be sure to keep us in the know with your informed and very true-to-life personnel decisions.

  • dee

    Also I’ve moved Jack Williams to started at CB opposite Champ, Bly goes to the Nickle …. This formation produced 4 int’s against the Raiders…. Also I need feebback would any of you trade Selvin Young, Stockley and a 1st Round Pick for Darren McFadden… I have that deal on the table but haven’t pulled the trigger as of yet. If your wondering how I got the extra first …. I traded Dewayne Robertson, Darrell Jackson and a 3rd pick to get an 1st.

  • dee

    No problem Rob … I will … geez lightened up … all is right with the world as the Broncos are still in 1st place. Lets us have the season play out… meanwhile try to have some fun… its just football.

  • dee

    *lighten… sorry an oversight on my part

  • T-Money

    Onto the back 8. It’s a whole new season…

  • Kyle

    A friend of mine – a Chargers fan – did I say friend? – brought up this freaky detail: if Ed Hochuli hadn’t blown his whistle, the Chargers would be UP half a game in the AFC West.

    Chargers would be 4-4 instead of 3-5.
    Broncos would be 3-4 instead of 4-3.

    I laughed and told him to keep dwelling on that and watch the Broncos run away with the West.

    ryan – I would have picked Clady if I had the #1 pick in the draft. Anyone who read the blog back in March and April knows it, too. I was DYING to get this kid.

    That being said, for a rookie, he’s far exceeded my expectations. Remember that pre-draft, history said that Shanahan “NEVER” played rookie OT’s. I thought I was being bold by saying he’d replace Kuper/Harris in the lineup by the bye week.

  • kerry

    Pennington just threw for over 300 yards against the Bills. he is gonna shred our defense. especially without Champ Bailey and Paymah starting. and there is no way id take Long over Clady. Clady is one of the best OT’s in the league thus far. yes i said in the league and not just among rookies.

  • Negro Ned

    Clady is much quicker and much more naturally gifted than long. Great, great pick up. Especially with Harris playing well I really like our OL.

  • Rob4Broncos

    To Kyle –

    I hate the Chargers as much as the next self-respecting Bronco fan, but isn’t your friend sorta right, if only for the fact that this is one instance where the W/L column truly doesn’t reflect how the two teams have actually performed? A wayward whistle is the only reason we didn’t lose that game.

    I don’t like looking at it that way any more than the rest of you would, but think about it: what are the odds of a whistle being blown prematurely on a play like that? Just some food for thought.

  • AKscott

    Speaking of charger hating.. nobody has mentioned the fact that they canned cotrell today.. thoughts how that (if any) changes the afc west ?

  • Kyle

    Not a fan of drastic midseason changes… unless they’re a part of another team.

    I think the Chargers could do decent down the stretch. Say, 6-2. Reglardless of the DC switch. That still only puts them at 9-7 though. If the Broncos take care of themselves, this division is winnable.

    And then Norv Turner will be joining Cottrell in the job market.

  • AKscott

    totally agree kyle, although is that as bronco fans what we want?
    I enjoy having Al run the raiders into and beyond the ground, i enjoy watching Herm get booed at nearly every opportunity by Chief fans, just as i enjoy watching Norv ruin marty’s team, speaking of which, i get the cotrell firing, but how does that help the offense wake up in the first half.. those guys never seem to show up til after halftime.

  • precisiontint

    The back nine begins. Joey Porter will be ready to play. If the Broncos continue to tackle in the open with eyes closed and heads down, it is going to be a long day. I hope Champ is giving clinics in practice. On the sidelines healing up of course. All Ready!

  • jchase8410

    Had hochuli not blown the whistle, and the chargers won that game, would the broncos have had so many phantom calls against them in the subsequent games? The drive sustaining calls like illegal contact, pass interference. Or the non-existant offensive pass interference call on Marshall in the Patriots game. There is no saying that given another chance at this season, every other game would have played out the same. I’m so sick of hearing about that call…the better team on that day won the game.

    Miami has a lot of talent, but like every other team in the AFC,minus the Titans, they are inconsistent. Hopefully the Broncos can keep up their trend of winning after the bye. Please, please please, hold on to the effing ball!!!

  • thomas

    Cmon, I know all you guys were saying how badly Pittsburgh was going to beat us after the bye last year, and what happened? We didn’t have champ for that game, either! Give this team a chance.