The Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos share many similarities, namely future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, unblemished records and questions surrounding their respective running games. The Broncos, however, boast the league’s most dominant defense and that could prove to be the difference when the teams test their mettle in Denver on Sunday.
The Broncos have scored a defensive touchdown in four of the last six contests, including a 26-23 overtime victory at Cleveland on Oct. 18. Denver’s opportunistic defense will be challenged by two-time and reigning league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who tossed a pair of touchdowns – including the sixth to familiar target James Jones – in a 27-20 victory over San Diego on Oct. 18. Denver’s Peyton Manning has struggled mightily this season, throwing two touchdowns against seven interceptions in the last three games. Should the league’s only five-time MVP right the ship, Manning would tie former Packers star Brett Favre for most victories (186) by a quarterback in the regular season.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened the Packers as 2.5-point road faves and the total at 46.
Packers – WR Davante Adams (Probable, ankle), S Morgan Burnett (Probable, calf), CB Damarious Randall (Questionable, ankle), RB James Starks (Questionable, hip), LB Nick Perry (Questionable, shoulder), DT B.J. Raji (Questionable, groin), WR Ty Montgomery (Questionable, ankle), S Sean Richardson (I-R, neck), TE Andrew Quarless (I-R, knee), DT Josh Boyd (I-R, ankle), LB Sam Barrington (I-R, ankle), WR Jordy Nelson (I-R, knee).
Broncos – LB Demarcus Ware (Probable, back), WR Emmanuel Sanders (Probable, shoulder), WR Jordan Norwood (Questionable, hamstring), RB Juwan Thompson (Questionable, hamstring), T Ty Sambrailo (Doubtful, shoulder), LB Shane Ray (Early Dec., knee), TE Jeff Heuerman (Out for season, knee), T Ryan Clady (I-R, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low-60s with wind blowing across the field at around 7 mph.
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Packers (-6) + Broncos (-4.5) + home field (-3.0) = Broncos -1.5
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “I?m still not sold on the Packers ability to stop the run defensively. Dom Capers stop unit has allowed 4.7 yards per carry, ranked in the bottom quartile of the NFL. Here?s a stat I didn?t expect to see: Peyton Manning is tied with Sam Bradford with ten interceptions, the most INT?s for any quarterback in the league this year.” Covers Expert Teddy Covers.
Green Bay does not have a cheerleader squad, so here’s a double dose of the Broncos
ABOUT THE PACKERS (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS, 2-4 O/U): After battling a nagging ankle injury, Eddie Lacy dealt with a different issue this week as reporters questioned whether the 234-pound – give or take a few – running back is being hampered by his weight. Lacy was limited to four carries for three yards versus the Chargers, with backup James Starks receiving the bulk of the work in that contest. Starks has been hampered by an ailing hip this week and coach Mike McCarthy hinted that Lacy could shoulder the load versus Denver by revealing that he is “starting to get back to himself.”
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS, 2-4 O/U): Ronnie Hillman (team-leading 323 yards rushing) said he believes Denver’s ground attack is about to get on track. “The offensive line is starting to get in a groove and it’s making it easier for us to run,” said Hillman, who rushed for 111 yards against the Browns before the team’s bye. C.J. Anderson (2.7 yards per carry) admitted he was more injured than he let on earlier in the season, but told the Denver Post that he feels ready to go after the bye week.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in their last six meetings.
* Under is 4-1 in Broncos last five home games.
* Packers are 4-0 ATS in their last four road games.
* Broncos are 5-0 ATS in their last five games following a ATS loss.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-five percent of Covers users are backing the Packers.