Halloween is over and the Cowboys escaped what could have been a ghoulish Halloween night, turning it into quite the treat with a Cooper Rush-led victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Now, as we move into November, the stakes start to get a little higher and each game starts to mean a little more, even though the Cowboys have a healthy NFC East divisional lead.
The Broncos are 4-4 coming off a victory over the Washington Football Team, and they're struggling to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The last time these two teams met it wasn’t pretty for Dak Prescott & Co. as the Broncos crushed the Cowboys in Mile High to the tune of 42-17. However, that was 4 years ago, and that is a lifetime in the NFL, so let’s take a look at this week's upcoming match-up and what Denver may have in store for the 6-1 Cowboys, who enter the game as 10-point favorites.
Denver is led by Teddy Bridgewater, who opened up this 2021 campaign on fire and had some people discussing if Teddy “Check-Down” had turned a new leaf. His yards per attempt and adjusted yards gained per pass attempt were 8.78 and 9.55, respectively, and he was leading an efficient Broncos offense to 25 points per game. In true Bridgewater form, he was excellent at protecting the football with zero interceptions in his first 3 games.
However, since the end of week 3, the Broncos have surpassed 20 points only one time and Bridgewater has thrown 5 interceptions and lost one fumble. He also has not taken as many chances down the field since their 3-0 start garnering 6.46 YPA and 6.5 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt.
They also sport a dreadful EPA per play of just +.0003 since their 3-0 start.
Denver will be with Jerry Jeudy this game as he returned from injury last week against Washington, giving him an additional weapon to go along with Courtland Sutton and Noah Fant. So, it’s not like the Broncos are devoid of weapons but they just can’t seem to click and get on the right page over the past few weeks.
The Cowboys are no strangers to going up against elite pass-catching options this season as they've faced the likes of Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, Chris Godwin, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and just last week Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. I have full confidence in this Cowboys defense to take advantage of the Broncos' sloppy offensive play and force Bridgewater into some more mistakes.
According to PFF, Brown is the highest graded cornerback in man coverage this season with a 90.1 grade, and he has two interceptions to go along with that and one pick 6.
Denver will be without starting tackle Garett Bolles, which leaves a gaping hole on their line.
The way Randy Gregory has been getting after the quarterback this season with five sacks and 11 quarterback hits in his last four games could spell disaster for the Broncos offense, possibly starting a new turnover streak for the Cowboys, who ended their streak of forcing a turnover in every game this season last week against the Vikings.
The Broncos have also been dreadful on 3rd downs converting just 34.64% of opportunities, and the Cowboys are coming off a game in which they allowed the Vikings to convert just 1 for 13 on third downs!
On the offensive side of the ball, expect Dak Prescott to be back for the Cowboys as Mike McCarthy said he plans for Dak to be a “full go” on Thursday’s practice.
Michael Gallup could also be returning to action this Sunday against the Broncos, making this already explosive offense seem even more indefensible. Cooper and Lamb are both coming off 100 yard performances, the second time this year both of them have eclipsed the century mark in the same game.
With Denver cornerback Bryce Callahan listed on the injury report, that could pose problems for this already deflated Denver D who have recently let up big passing games to the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Lamar Jackson, and Derek Carr.
Furthermore, I can’t believe it took me this long to mention this, but the Broncos will be without star OLB Von Miller as he has been traded to the Rams for multiple picks.
Bradley Chubb is also questionable this week which could leave the pass rush severely lacking for the Broncos.
One place where the Broncos do well is their rush defense, as they give up only 100.9 yards per game on the ground and at one time held the vaunted Ravens rushing attack to 102 yards, almost ending the Ravens' impressive ground streak of 100+ rushing yards or more.
However, more recently they let D’Ernest Johnson lead the Browns without Chubb and Hunt to a 146-yard 1 touchdown performance. So, again, I think it’s safe to say the Cowboys can also beat the Broncos on the ground with the deadly combination of Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Overall, I think this Cowboys' offense should have no problem moving the ball on Sunday and putting points on the scoreboard. The Cowboys are clearly the better team from top to bottom and great teams dispose of inferior teams, and I expect the Cowboys will do just that come game day.
Cowboys 32 – Broncos 16