Green Bay Packers (6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Denver Broncos (6-0 SU, 4-2 ATS)
NFL Week 8
Date/Time: November 1st/8:30pm ET
Where: Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium
by Evergreen, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -3/DEN +3
Over/Under Total: 45.5
There are plenty of stinkers on the NFL schedule each week but this weeks Sunday Night Football game is not one of them as we get to see the matchup of the week with Green Bay taking on Denver. Both teams are 6-0 to open the season but neither appears the juggernaut that a perfect record suggests. Denvers defense has had to carry Peyton Manning through the early part of the season while Green Bay has been a more balanced unit with the trump card that is Aaron Rodgers. This is just the third road game for the Packers and it comes at Mile High with both teams fresh off the bye so this one has all the makings of a mid-season classic.
It is odd to see Denver listed as a home dog but that is what we get as the online betting sites have Green Bay as a three point favorite. The Broncos dropped their last ATS decision but have gone 5-0 against the spread in their last five following an ATS loss. The Packers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven overall and 4-0 against the spread in their last four games as visitors. Green Bay has excelled coming off the bye, winning 10-of-12 against the spread going back to the Favre era.
Green Bay has done well in dealing with injuries on their way to 6-0. WR Davante Adams is expected back this week and Randall Cobb is apparently much improved after the bye. Eddie Lacy has had another week to heal his balky ankle and his return to form is much anticipated as Lacy is so good at softening a defense when he is right. Lacy and James Starks will have to find room against the 4th best run defense in the land but Aaron Rodgers leading the charge isnt a bad option either. A-Rod has connected for 15 touchdowns against just two picks so far and will be the focal point of the Denver defense.
The Broncos possess the 29th ranked offense in yards gained through seven weeks but they have a defense that might allow them to go 16-0 even if the offense never gets it right. Denver is ranked #1 in passing and total yards allowed and have given up just 17 points per game. That stellar effort has covered up for Manning throwing 10 interceptions already and a running game that is sputtering at 85 yards per contest. The Broncos have managed to score 23.2 points per game basically on sheer will and have dodged the appropriate bullets in winning by less than seven points on four occasions. The Packers defense is very stingy at allowing points, just 16.8 per game, but can be moved on so it really is up to Manning and the offensive play-calling to make it tough for Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers at bay.
Any increase in offensive output likely needs to start with Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson running the ball. Manning just isnt the vintage version of himself and really has taken a step back as the offensive line has not been able to keep the pocket clean around him. A better running performance will help keep the speed of Green Bays rush from hurrying Manning and let him utilize Manny Sanders and Demaryius Thomas. Both receivers have a leg up over their prospective coverage men but that wont mean much if Manning is being rushed and hit too often. Green Bay allows 118 rushing yards per game so it could be that Denver finally gets a consistent effort out their run game this week.
There are plenty of analysts, even in Wisconsin, that dont really believe the Packers are as good as their record shows. San Diego failed on four goal-to-go attempts to tie the game in Week 6 before falling to the Pack by seven and St. Louis fell in Lambeau after missing four field goals and throwing two endzone interceptions. Green Bay has survived those uneven efforts to remain spotless but the talk is that their time is coming to pay up, especially on the road. Dom Capers defense has been run on by teams and passed on, including 500+ yards by Philip Rivers last game. The Green Bay defense has relied on the big plays when the opponent has become one-dimensional but have failed to generate those in close games.
Both teams will benefit from the bye week. Green Bay is drastically healthier and Denver has had a week in the lab to get Manning in better spots. Neither team is overly damaged by a loss as they own big leads in their divisions already but I think Denver stands to gain a lot more with a win and can keep the pressure on New England for home field advantage. With so many big play guys on the field, the game really can swing on any one series but I think Denver will have a better gameplan put together and ultimately win this game. Any inefficiency in Rodgers production tends to scuttle the Pack and there is not enough of a track record to suggest that Mike McCarthy and Dom Capers can patch the defensive holes, even off the bye. Manning is limited but I think he will make enough plays to let the Denver defense have the freedom to attack and keep the Packers offense off its A-game. Mile High is still a tough venue and the Packers havent been there since 2011 so dont be surprised by a sloppy start or some uncharacteristic play out the Green Bay side. It will be a surprise win by the Broncos but then again, will we really be surprised by a Manning led team winning a regular season game? Denver 26 Green Bay 24
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Denver
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