Broncos at Cardinals Preview

Wildcard push or top 5 pick? Denver reaches critical point of season

Case Keenum lets rip at Broncos training camp. Credit: Ryan Koenigsberg/BSN Denver

Every game feels like a must win when you’re on a slide, you’re desperate, you yearn for the euphoric lift of a victory.

Everything is easier when you’re winning: Wins are the fuel that powers a fanbase, that motivates a team, that inspire greatness.

In Denver, we are sorely needing a win. Now on a four-game skid, the Broncos head into Arizona to face a Cardinals team with as many question marks as the Broncos and more defeats from the first six weeks of the 2018 season.

Like the Broncos, the roster contains stars Patrick Peterson, David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Deone Bucannon. Equally like the Broncos, these players represent a top-heavy roster and not all these players are performing to the best of the ability.

Peterson is having another All-Pro season but the rest of the group is not living up to expectations whether due to poor coaching, decline or flat out not being used at all.

Cardinals offense versus Broncos defense: Moveable object v stoppable force

A Cardinals offence led on the play calling side by former Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, who was sacked midway through last season, has led many Cardinals fans, beat reporters and national analysts scratching their head. We hear you and we know your pain.

Milk cartons have been distributed throughout the greater Phoneix area carrying images of Johnson and Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is one of the greatest receivers in NFL history — fourth in all-time receiving yards and a lock for the Hall of Fame. He’s infamous for having the best hands in the game, his finesse route running and clutch playmaking ability but in 2018 he’s all but vanished from the offense.

Carson Palmer’s departure at the end of the 2017 season left question marks at quarterback for the Cardinals but this alone does not account for Fitzgerald’s lack of production, he doesn’t look healthy and continues to struggle, averaging under four receptions and under 40 yards per game

Johnson is arguably the most dynamic running back in football, but this season he’s averaging just 3.2 yards per run from his 92 carries and has 17 catches on 27 targets for 135 yards.

Contrast this to his 2016 breakout season and the difference is stark. Johnson is running hard, so what’s with the drop in performance? Enter Mike McCoy.

Johnson will look to get healthy against a Broncos defense that enters the game dead last in rushing defence after giving up over two hundred yards to both Issiah Crowell and Todd Gurley in back to back weeks.

Broncos offense ready to break out?

Nevermind games, just a few plays can change the entire outlook of a season what if Case Keenum hit Demaryius Thomas for a touchdown against KC, what if call X had gone our way.

Regardless, you make your own luck and despite flashes on the ground and through the air, the Broncos offense has been torrid through six games.

Turnovers continue to stifle drives and put the defense in bad positions and while the offense seems to get hot in the fourth quarter it’s often too little too late. So is this down to play calling or offensive play? In short, both.

As fans, we’re are a vocal bunch; we often think we know better. Sometimes we’re right: a perfect example of this phenomenon is the Seattle Seahawks, a team predicated on defense, running the ball, and play action passes.

Through four weeks they looked like one of the worst offensive teams in the league, so what changed? They started to run the ball, they started to use play action.

In 2017, Case Keenum was one of the most successful quarterbacks in the league on play action passes but, despite this, it hasn’t been a mainstay of the 2018 Broncos offense.

In fact, it’s been a rarity. For Denver to turn it around this season the coaching staff needs to focus on the team’s strengths and make the necessary adjustments rather than playing to an idealistic vision that continues to fail.

While I don’t think this will be a vintage performance, I believe the Broncos can and will grind out a result on TNF.

Final Prediction

Broncos 26-20 Cardinals

Follow the game with us on Twitter @BroncosEUR. And for all the worst takes follow me @hatwearer2034

For even more build up to the game watch Brandon Perna preview it here.

You can watch the Broncos on NFL Game Pass Europe and Sky Sports Action from 01:20 BST (02:20 CEST) Friday morning.

About Andrew Lewis 23 Articles
Andrew is one of Broncos Europe's contributors from Liverpool, England. As well as providing opinion pieces throughout the season, he can also be found in some of our videos. He doesn't come with subtitles, but probably should.

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