How can the Broncos keep their hot streak alive against the Philadelphia Eagles?

Denver Broncos running back Jamaal Charles (28) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field
Nov 5, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Denver Broncos running back Jamaal Charles (28) is tackled by Philadelphia Eagles outside linebacker Mychal Kendricks (95) during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Broncos are set to enter one of their most pivotal matchups of the season this week with the Philadelphia Eagles coming to town.

What can they do to ensure victory in such a crucial moment? Let’s look.

How the Broncos beat the Eagles

Force Jalen Hurts to beat you with his arm: Six weeks ago, this column featured a very similar section in regard to Lamar Jackson. The Broncos managed to accomplish this feat, but unfortunately for them, Jackson has spent the 2021 season breaking out as one of the better passers in the league and made Denver pay as a result.

However, Jalen Hurts is nowhere near the passer (or runner, frankly) that Jackson is, so forcing him to beat you through the air seems like a safer bet.

This is demonstrated by the fact that only six teams are generating fewer expected points added (EPA) per dropback than the Philadelphia Eagles and Jalen Hurts.

Fortunately for the Broncos, they shouldn’t struggle too much with accomplishing this task. The last two times they played quarterbacks and offenses that heavily utilized the gun-read game, Denver shut it down. Daniel Jones gained just 27 yards on six carries, and Jackson was even worse, gaining just 28 yards on seven carries.

If Denver does that again, they should be able to hold off Philadelphia at home.

Run game gets rolling: Shutting down Jalen Hurts will go a long way towards securing victory, but of course, the Broncos will have to generate points too.

The key to all this, especially after last week, appears to be the Broncos run game.

Teddy Bridgewater — while objectively and demonstrably better than Drew Lock in almost every way imaginable — is nowhere near good enough to carry an offensive attack on his own.

When the run game showed up in Dallas, it allowed Bridgewater to just be a game manager, rather than having to worry about carrying the offense, and the returns were undeniable. He had his best game as a Bronco as a result of what the run game was able to open up.

The run game making the offense respectable also accomplishes the task of keeping Denver’s defense off the field and well-rested and keeps the defense engaged — which was a major problem during the Broncos’ 0-4 stretch.

Denver’s ability to run the football will be the determining factor in how far this team goes, which is a statement that feels intensely dated for the modern NFL, yet rings true in this instance.

How the Eagles beat the Broncos

Denver’s secondary regresses back to awfulness: Forcing Hurts to beat you through the air is great and all, but if a now-beat-up secondary returns to the abhorrent we saw from Week 4 to Week 8, it won’t matter.

Hurts isn’t a great passer, but he can still carve up an embarrassingly bad defense, and the Broncos have unfortunately demonstrated the potential to be that this season.

Now, it doesn’t seem likely with the way the defense has been trending in recent weeks, but with this bipolar Broncos team, who knows what you’re going to get on a week-by-week basis?

Especially now that Denver’s secondary will (likely) be without its two best corners in Patrick Surtain II and Bryce Callahan.

Broncos’ beat-up O-Line falls short: The Broncos are dealing with numerous injuries in the secondary and along the offensive line, which could make victory difficult.

Earlier, the importance of Denver’s rushing attack was discussed, but it might be hard for that rushing attack to get going with reserves Quinn Meinerz, Cam Fleming and Calvin Anderson likely starting.

That’s especially true given the Eagles’ strength in the trenches.

However, the Eagles’ defense is an excellent matchup for how Bridgewater wants to attack. All season long, Philadephia has allowed teams to nickel-and-dime them underneath while refusing to give up the downfield shot plays. With that said, it might be hard for Bridgewater to take advantage of this favorable matchup in coverage, considering the fact that the Eagles might have an overwhelming edge up front.

Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

This iteration of the Denver Broncos is impossible to make a prediction for, because of their aforementioned Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-esque behavior.

One week they look truly dominant and like a frisky playoff team. The next they look like they should be picking top five in the upcoming draft.

If the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll-Broncos show up Sunday, the game will likely look a lot like the matchup with Washington; extremely ugly and entirely up-for-grabs.

If the terrifying, monstrous Mr. Hyde-Broncos show up Sunday, they should frankly wipe the floor with the Eagles, as they’re a much better team.

It’s anyone’s guess which version of the Broncos show up, but considering the recent trend towards Mr. Hyde, we’ll ride the wave.

Broncos win 24-16

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