KUSA – What the Broncos need for their game Sunday against the turbo-charged Los Angeles Rams’ offense is their 2015 defense.
The current Denver D is great no more. The undefeated Rams have the NFL’s No. 1 offense with 468.4 yards per game. They have scored at least 33 points in each of their five games.
Nearly as difficult to believe is the Denver defense – the league’s best just three years ago -- now ranks 26th by allowing 395.8 yards per game. The Broncos are No. 30 against the run, allowing nearly 140 yards per game.
But bad weather is the great equalizer and there will be bad weather Sunday for the game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High.
Here is a Klis List of ways the Broncos can snap their three-game losing streak and give the 5-0 Rams their first loss of the season:
1. Let it snow
In the warmth and sunshine, the Broncos wouldn’t have much chance of slowing down the Rams. But the snow should bother quarterback Jared Goff and receivers Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks.
How can a team from Denver lose to a team from Southern California in a game played in snow?
2. Contain Todd Gurley II
After the Denver D allowed 323 yards rushing last week to the New York Jets, the Rams no doubt will give plenty of carries to Gurley, especially with the inclement conditions. Gurley is one of the best backs in the league.
3. Play two deep safeties every play
Rams head coach Sean McVay doesn’t incorporate the tight end into his passing game. That’s the good news for the Broncos’ secondary, which has struggled against the tight end for going on three years. The bad news is the Rams are three-receiver offense and the Broncos only have one cornerback – Chris Harris Jr. – who is playing well.
To help their second and third cornerbacks, Tramaine Brock and Bradley Roby, the Broncos need to keep their two safeties, Darian Stewart and Justin Simmons, back deep. It won’t be easy slowing down Gurley in the run game with two deep safeties. Therein lies the rub when playing the Rams. But the Broncos have to start adjusting to their suspect cornerback play.
4. Run the ball
A snowy field begs for the Broncos to place a stronger emphasis on their running game, even if the Rams do have the league’s most formidable defensive tackles in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
The quick and elusive Phillip Lindsay might be able to break off an explosive play or two and while 230-pound back Royce Freeman has never played in snow, conditions should suit his physical style.
5. Block the Wade Phillips’ dog rush
When the Rams defensive coordinator was with the Broncos, he used to say he rarely blitzed, which he describes as six or more pass rushers.
He did admit to dialing up his share of dog rushes (five pass rushers). He figures to dog rush his former team plenty Sunday.
It’s another reason why the Broncos should go heavy on the run Sunday.
6. Continue securing the ball
Even with several rookies possessing the ball – Freeman, Lindsay, Courtland Sutton, DaeSean Hamilton – the Broncos have yet to lose a fumble this season. In the snow, the snap exchange between Matt Paradis and quarterback Case Keenum, and long-snapper Casey Kreiter and punter/holder Colby Wadman will also be crucial.
7. Big play, Case
The Broncos have one of the best 40-yard offenses in the league. They need to start going 75 yards. It would help if Keenum can keep the safeties honest by hitting a big one or two.