BRONCOS (3-4) AT EAGLES (7-1)
SUNDAY, 1 P.M. ET, LINCOLN FINANCIAL FIELD, PHILADELPHIA uTV: CBS, DIRECTV 705
Announcers: Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, Evan Washburn
About the Broncos: The Broncos will be traveling on a short week after being on the road at Kansas City on Monday night. This is the third of three consecutive road games for the Broncos. They had only six takeaways after seven games and only one on fumbles with their opponents fumbling only twice. There have been consistent offensive issues in a stretch of five games in which they have scored a total of 71 points. In the last three of those games, the Broncos had 11 turnovers and went 13 quarters with just one touchdown, and that was in the fourth quarter of a 23-10 loss to the Giants. After a promising start of the season, RB C.J. Anderson hit a dry spell and has scored just one rushing touchdown after seven games. He had 78 yards on 15 carries against Kansas City in Week 8.
About the Eagles: Last season, the Eagles were 3-1 when RT Lane Johnson began a 10-game suspension for a PED violation. Then-rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai, Allen Barbre (now with the Broncos after a July trade) and Isaac Seumalo filled in. The Eagles were 5-9 by the tim Johnson returned and then went 2-0. Now, after LT Jason Peters was lost for the season with torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments suffered in Week 7, Vaitai is under the microscope again. Rather than switch two positions, coaches decided for now to keep Johnson at right tackle and played Vaitai at left tackle in the Eagles’ 33-10 victory over San Francisco in Week 8. The jury remains out as QB Carson
Wentz was sacked three times, the offense had six three-and-outs, averaged just 4.6 yards per play and was 4-for-14 on third down. The defense was stout against the offensively challenged 49ers, allowing 3.7 yards per play and sacking QB C.J. Beathard four times and hitting him on 12 plays.
Matchup to watch: Johnson and Vaitai vs. Broncos OLBs Von Miller, Shane Ray and Shaquil Barrett. Ray returned from injured reserve Monday night against Kansas City, and this will be a true test for Vaitai and the offensive line. Players to watch: Eagles RBs LeGarrette Blount and Corey Clement. Denver is usually stout against the run, while Blount and Clement might be developing into a strong 1-2 punch. Clement, a rookie free agent, had 10 carries for 54 yards with a 22-yard run against the 49ers. Blount has rushed for 467 yards on 100 carries. Number crunching: 47-9. The Eagles have been especially strong coming out of the locker room, outscoring their opponents 47-9 in the first quarter and 58-30 in the third quarter. KEYS TO THE GAME 1. Take Wentz out of his comfort zone: Not only do the Broncos have to put pressure on the Eagles quarterback, who has been sacked 22 times this season, but they have to be mindful of his running ability. Wentz has run for 15 first downs this season.
2. Protect the football: Too many turnovers have doomed the Broncos after a good start, whether it is interceptions or fumbles. Denver had fumbled 14 times (losing seven).
3. Unleash the pass rush: DE Brandon Graham and DT Fletcher Cox each had a sack against the 49ers to give them five and 4.5, respectively. They hope to take advantage of a banged-up Denver offensive line.
4. Find Ertz: TE Zach Ertz has become Wentz’s favorite receiver. He had a touchdown against the 49ers, and for the season, Ertz has 43 receptions for 528 yards (12.3 average) and six touchdowns.
Eagles’ LeGarrette Blount ERIC HARTLINE, USA TODAY SPORTS