The 2-4 Denver Broncos came within a field goal of taking the undefeated Los Angeles Rams into overtime in Week 6 and lost 23-20 to arguably the league’s best team. Down 20-3 at the end of the third quarter, an odd interception off a facemask turned into an Emmanuel Sanders touchdown and led to a fourth-quarter comeback attempt worth watching.
Denver’s 27th ranked defense held the Rams to just one more field goal, while Broncos quarterback Case Keenum and crew were able to produce a quick field goal and touchdown pass, but in the end they couldn’t convert the onside kick. The Broncos are going to Arizona ready to take out all their frustration on a team that’s only managed one win so far this season.
Last week the 1-5 Arizona Cardinals, led by rookie quarterback Josh Rosen, were beaten by the Minnesota Vikings, 27-17 in a game that was closer than the score would indicate. In the three games Rosen has started, he’s 1-2 and in both losses, he has put the Cardinals in a position to compete for the win.
The Cardinals have scored an average of 13.7 points per game – only the Buffalo Bills have done worse. After Arizona shifted from quarterback Sam Bradford to the rookie Rosen starting in Week 4, the entire offense has had to adjust to his rhythm while Rosen has had to adjust to being the main man on an NFL team.
If the Broncos win this matchup, they’ll move to 3-4, but in an AFC West dominated by the 5-1 Kansas City Chiefs, they’ll need a lot more wins before they can even start dreaming about a wildcard playoff spot. But if the Cardinals come out on top, they’ll be 2-5 and though they have little chance at winning the NFC West (or even a wildcard spot), a win at least adds fuel to their rookie quarterback’s fire.
Who’s favored to win this Week 7 Broncos-Cardinals matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Broncos and the Cardinals and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Broncos offense needs to hold onto the ball
The Broncos offense is decent, ranked 12th in total yards per game with 387.7. One problem this season - quarterback Keenum is having a tough time not throwing it to the other team. Last year with the Vikings, he had seven interceptions all season, and right now with the Broncos he already has eight.
Keenum has thrown for 1,687 yards, 11th best in the league, but he’s only connected for 7 touchdowns, tied for 23rd in that category. Last week, Keenum hit his deep threat receiver Emmanuel Sanders 7 times for 115 yards and a touchdown.
Rookie running back Phillip Lindsay has also been impressive. Lindsay, an undrafted rookie, has run the ball 61 times for 346 yards and a touchdown and has caught 14 passes for 113 yards and another touchdown. He’ll get a chance to step up his game against the Cardinals, who are ranked 31st in the league against the run.
The 2018 Cardinals offense the league’s worst
With an offense that’s last in the league in yards per game – their total of 220.5 is less than half of the first ranked Rams’ output of 464.3 – and a 24th ranked defense that allows opponents to move the ball 435.0 yards per game, it’s tough to imagine the Cardinals beating any NFL team at this point.
Rosen has targets – veteran wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald might be in his 15th season, but he’s still capable of catching 150 passes for over 1000 yards and at least half a dozen touchdowns this season. Second-year receiver Chad Williams has been targeted 21 times but has only caught 5 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Running back David Johnson is back from his wrist injury – it’s entirely possible he can get back to his 2016 numbers when he rushed for 1,239 yards and 16 touchdowns while catching 80 balls for 879 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Broncos are last in the league against the run, so Johnson should have some fun in this one.
Broncos Defense ranks 27th in the league, Cardinals D ranks 24th
Denver linebacker Bradley Chubb, the Bronco’s first round draft pick, had three sacks last week against the Rams and veteran linebacker also Von Miller had 1.5 sacks. Their defense is tied for 11th in the league for total sacks with 16, but the Cardinals have only allowed their rookie quarterback to be sacked 7 times this season.
The Broncos are 19th in the league for interceptions with only 4 picks total, so defending against rookie quarterback Rosen, who’s only been picked off twice so far, might be a decent way for Denver’s secondary to beef up those numbers.
The Cardinals defense might not be much better than the Broncos, but they had 4 sacks in the Week 6 game against the Vikings and they’re tied for fifth overall in that category with 18 total sacks. The Broncos have let Keenum get sacked 15 times already this season, so this should become a factor in this matchup.
The Cardinals have forced 9 fumbles, tied for second in the league, and they’ve recovered 6 of them, twice for touchdowns, and only two teams have done better. Defensive takeaways will allow Rosen and the offense more time on the field.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Denver’s rookie punter, Colby Wadman, was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster in September following an injury to Marquette King. So far, he’s punted 12 times for a net average of 33.2 yards per punt, ranked dead last, 34th, in the league.
Arizona’s veteran punter, Andy Lee, in his 15th season and on his 4th team, has punted 36 times for a net average of 40.3 yards per punt, ranked 14th in the NFL.
Denver’s placekicker, Brandon McManus, in his fifth season (all with the Broncos), is 10-for-10, his longest was a 53-yarder. He hasn’t missed any extra point attempts (12/12).
Arizona’s very veteran placekicker, Phil Dawson, in his 20th NFL season (his first 14 were with the Cleveland Browns), is 2-for-4, his longest has been a 50-yarder. He hasn’t missed any extra point attempts (10/10).
Denver’s punt returner, running back Phillip Lindsay, filling in for the injured Adam Jones (leg) isn’t currently ranked in the league. He’s returned 5 kickoffs for 125 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 25.0 yards per return, his longest for 32 yards.
Arizona’s punt returner, wide receiver Christian Kirk, is ranked 29th in the league in return average. He’s returned 8 punts for 61 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 7.6 yards per return, his longest for 44 yards.
Broncos-Cardinals prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Broncos favored over Cardinals the by 2 with an over/under of 40.0.
Pete Prisco goes with the even and has it Cardinals 23, Broncos 17
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Cardinals 20, Broncos 17