The Green Bay Packers (6-0) will take on the Denver Broncos (6-0) on Sunday Night Football in Denver. The kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. Central Time on NBC with Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth calling the game.

These two teams have met 13 times previously with Green Bay winning 6, Denver winning 6 and tying once back in 1987. The Packers have a three game winning streak against the Broncos, but lost a game in 1998 that Packers fans will always remember, Super Bowl 32.

They also haven’t faced a Denver team with a quarterback like Peyton Manning since John Elway in that Super Bowl. Tim Tebow, Jay Cutler, and Danny Kanell have led previous Denver teams against the Packers.

The last game these two teams played was a 49-24 win for the Pack. The last meeting in Denver was a night to remember for Brett Favre as he threw an 80-yard touchdown pass in overtime to Gregg Jennings for the 19-13 win.

The Packers were looking to get healthy during their bye week after some early season injuries. On Wednesday, head coach Mike McCarthy addressed a particular injury to running back James Starks that occurred during the win over San Diego.

McCarthy stated:

“Frankly, I was here everyday during the bye week, and so was James. He’s been working on this all week.”

The team will look forward to having everyone back to completely or close to completely healthy heading into their Sunday night game.

A couple of key players that will be returning to the line-up will be wide receiver Davante Adams and safety Morgan Burnett, two guys that have missed playing time in the last couple weeks.

Aaron Rodgers and the offense for Green Bay has found a way, without Jordy Nelson, to continue to be in the top 12 in the league in all but one major offensive category.

The team ranks 5th in scoring (27.3 points-per-game), 11th in yards (364.2 per game), and 8th in rush yards (127.3 per game). The only place the Packers rank below the top half is in passing yards where they are 22nd (236.8 per game), and with Davante Adams returning Green Bay will look to increase that stat.

Rodgers is again playing to an MVP caliber season with 1,491 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and only two interceptions. He became the fastest quarterback to 30,000 yards in a career in just 3,652 attempts, 43 fewer than Hall-of-Famer Johnny Unitas.

During the offseason, the Packers defense lost a few key members, but with the emergence of rookies Quinten Rollins and Damarius Randall and the reemergence of BJ Raji, they (like the offense) rank high in many of the NFL stat categories.

The defense ranks 11th in yards per game (355.0), 12th in pass yards per game (236.5), and (maybe the most important) 1st in points per game (16.8).

The Packers, of course, will have their hands full with Peyton Manning and company.

Manning is having a less than stellar year, but continues to find ways to pull off wins. He has thrown 146-of-237 for 1,524 yards, seven touchdowns, but has 10 interceptions.

The Broncos have had some close calls this season with narrow wins over Minnesota in week 4 (23-20) and at Cleveland in week 6 (26-23 OT).

Green Bay will need to get out of the gates early and stay out in front so that Manning can’t keep his team in it till the end and pull off another last minute win.

The Broncos defense has been the group that has kept them in the games the most. They rank first in total yards per game (281.3), passing yards (192.2), 4th in rush yards per game (89.2), and tied for 2nd with 17.0 points per game.

The Packers offense will need to have a break out game on Sunday and force Denver to play from behind and force Manning and the offense to have plays downfield, which will benefit Green Bay.

Keys for Green Bay:

  1. Score First – If Green Bay can score first, get momentum and quiet the Mile High crowd, they will be able to establish their offense and ware down the Broncos defense.
  2. Get run game established – If Green Bay can establish their run game with James Starks and Eddie Lacy against the number one run defense in the NFL, it will create opportunities for the passing game and bigger plays downfield.
  3. Pressure Manning – If the Packers can get pressure on Peyton Manning and force him into tough throws, they will be able to get a few interceptions and create short field for the Packers offense.

Keys for Denver:

  1. Pressure Rodgers – The Denver defense has been very stout this year and if they are able to get pressure on Rodgers and make him feel uncomfortable in the pocket he will struggle and force tough passes to his teammates maybe resulting in interceptions.
  2. Protect Manning – If the offensive line creates a good pocket for Peyton Manning and gives him time to throw to his talented receivers, he will be able to pick apart the Packers defense.
  3. Keep crowd in game – If the Denver defense can hold the Packers offense in check and let Peyton get good field position, the crowd will stay involved and continue to be loud and make it tough for Green Bay’s offense.

This is going to be an incredible in primetime between two elite quarterbacks. It will be a game you won’t want to miss!!

My predication: Packers 27- Broncos 21

Go Pack Go!!!

Podcast Record (25-16)/ Last Week (2-4)

Week 8 Picks:

Patriots over Dolphins
Lions over Chiefs
Ravens over Chargers
Cardinals over Browns
Bears over Vikings
Steelers over Bengals
Texans over Titans
Saints over Giants
Rams over 49ers
Falcons over Buccaneers
Jets over Raiders
Seahawks over Cowboys
Panthers over Colts

(podcast picks in bold)

Follow Steve on Twitter @Steve_Maves

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