It is fair to say that the NFL over the years has slowly made football stretch through the entire week. If you are a good team you find yourself in the national spotlight several times each season and Sunday night is no different. The Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos, two undefeated teams that have been contenders for several seasons, will face off in primetime. Some players downplay the significance of the stage while others eagerly await the opportunity to standout.

“Oh it’s a big game. It’s the next game up—of course, being in primetime, Sunday Night Football versus an undefeated team as well. Two 6-0 teams going at it, there is going to be added excitement and enthusiasm. I just know that [Sports Authority Field at] Mile High is going to be rocking and I can’t wait to play in it,” Broncos safety, David Bruton Jr. said Thursday.

Both the Packers and the Broncos have had their fair share of nationally televised games in recent years, but none more than the Broncos. Since Peyton Manning’s arrival in 2012, the Broncos have been featured in primetime 18 times, tops in the NFL during that span. While coaches and players alike maintain that it does not affect their preparation, some have acknowledged that it adds to the game atmosphere.

“Obviously it is more exciting because you are the only game on TV and the whole world is watching, but we definitely don’t take a different approach to it. The biggest thing is, when we go out there, we expect to win every game. So we take that approach to every game,” nose tackle Sylvester Williams said Friday. “It is definitely a very exciting game, the most exciting game of our season for us. We want to go out there and come out on top and be one of the last teams standing undefeated.”

The Broncos have a 13-5 record in primetime games since 2012 and have gone 7-2 on Sunday nights. Fellow defensive lineman, Malik Jackson added that after the several seasons of multiple nationally televised games, it does give veterans of those games some good experience as they prepare for this week’s contest. He added that being undefeated and facing the Packers adds an element of excitement.

“It helps because you’re used to it. You know how to handle it. It’s one of those things like, ‘act like you’ve been there before.’ And we have been there before. It is nothing new and we know how to handle big stages. It helps us definitely,” he said Friday. “When you get stages like this on Sunday night against another team at 6-0, I’m a little more nervous than usual because of how big it is.”

The Packers have also had a lot of success in primetime games, including Sunday nights. They have won 10 of their last 13 Sunday night games. Aaron Rodgers, in particular, has been stellar on Sunday nights. In 13 career games on Sunday night he has 31 touchdowns with only five interceptions. Jackson also understands how good Rodgers is at drawing defensive linemen offside and implored the Denver fan base Friday to help out with that.

“We are going to need those Denver people out there Sunday yelling and screaming every down no matter what.”

Head coach Gary Kubiak, who has been in the NFL as a player or a coach for 31 years, has seen it all and has tried to keep his team focused despite the hype surrounding the big game. When asked about any difference between a regular Sunday start or a primetime game he downplayed the significance.

“It counts the same as all of the other ones that we’ve played. I think that we know that we’re playing a great football team. We understand all of those things that go into it, but they all count the same. We’re approaching it just like we did the first six that we played. We’re trying to have a good week of practice with attention to detail. We know that we’re going to have to play extremely well.”

Veteran tight end Owen Daniels has participated more than his share of primetime games and sees how it could affect a young, inexperienced player but knows that mentally preparing like a normal week is the right approach.

“If you have never really done it before it just depends on how you approach it. If you think about it like, ‘Oh my god I’m playing on Sunday night football.’ You could psych yourself out a little bit,” he said Friday. “You don’t want to make more out of it than it is. It is a nice big stage to be playing on and obviously that is a perk of playing on successful teams, you get primetime games, but it is still just a football game.”

The Broncos entered Friday as 2.5 point underdogs in Las Vegas, despite riding a nine game regular season winning streak. Rather than being upset by their status in the betting world, they are embracing the challenge.

“Yeah, when you look at a lot of the games that we’ve played, we’ve really been the underdog. No one gives you credit until you prove them wrong. This is one of those games where it’s a measuring stick for us to say, ‘We’re going against a good offense and a really good team offensively.’ We just have to go out there, just play and do what we do best,” DeMarcus Ware said Thursday.

The NFL is a weekly land mine due to the parity amongst all 32 teams, but the meeting of two undefeated teams in week eight is historically significant. Their game Sunday night will be only the fourth ever meeting between teams with 6-0 or better records. The old, “It is just another game” cliche may ring true for some, but most of the Broncos, including C.J. Anderson, are itching to hit the field and show the whole NFL that they are ready to move on to 7-0.

“I think you’re just excited to play every week, but this game definitely has its mark on it. It’s Sunday Night Football and it will be fun. We’ve got an opportunity to go get No. 7. Let’s go get it.”


The Broncos hold an all-time record of 5-6-1 with the Packers. They have lost the last three games against the NFC North foes, including a 49-23 drubbing on October 2, 2011.

Peyton Manning is one win shy of tying Brett Favre for most regular-season victories by a starting quarterback in the NFL with 186.

Shane Ray is out for the Broncos Sunday while only Jordan Norwood and Ty Sambrailo appeared as “doubtful/questionable” on the team’s injury report Friday. Sambrailo, who has missed the last three games, was set to return this week but the coaching staff is playing it safe heading into the weekend.

“Here’s the deal,” Kubiak said in reference to Sambrailo Friday. “He had a full week of practice. We need to go back and really evaluate as coaches and take a look and see at the week’s work and see if we think he is ready to go or if does he need another week.”

Emmanuel Sanders, Evan Mathis, Aqib Talib and Ware are all listed as “probable” after being limited through Thursday and practicing full on Friday.

The Packers have some big names on the injury report. Ty Montgomery (WR), James Starks (RB), Nick Perry (ROLB), and B.J. Raji (NT) are all listed as “questionable” and Davante Adams (WR) and Morgan Burnett (S) are listed as “probable”.

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