Coming off their first loss of the season, the Denver Broncos host an improving Washington Redskins squad on Sunday afternoon at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
Throwing an interception for the third straight game marred quarterback Peyton Manning’s returned to Indianapolis in a 39-33 loss to the Colts last week. Manning looked human in last week’s premier game, going 29-for-49 for 386 yards and three scores, and the Denver offensive line gave up a season-high four sacks.
The 2-4 Redskins picked up their second win of the year in a wild 45-41 game against Chicago, highlighted by three rushing touchdowns from running back Roy Helu, and quarterback Robert Griffin III’s 298 passing yards and two scores.
Most of Griffin’s yards went to rookie tight end Jordan Reed who totaled nine receptions for 134 yards and a score. Running back Alfred Morris also chipped in 95 yards, and is now eighth in the NFL with 472 yards and three scores.
The Broncos fell behind by 12 points heading into half time, and Manning nearly pulled off one of his signature comebacks with 16 fourth quarter points, but his interception and a fumble by running back Ronnie Hillman ultimately led to the loss.
Despite the letdown, the Broncos are still the league’s top offense with 469.3 total yards and 42.6 points per game, with Manning first in passing yards (2,565), touchdowns (25), and second in completion percentage (71.6).
Griffin hasn’t looked confident in his surgically repaired knee for most of the season, and hasn’t bounced outside of the pocket nearly as much. After six games this season Griffin’s rushed 38 times for 233 yards and no scores, compared to 55 times for 379 yards and six touchdowns in the same number of games last season.
Still, Griffin remains second on the Redskins in rushing and the team is fourth in rushing in the league with 141.5 yards per game.
How Denver responds to the loss could be a huge turning point in what’s been an otherwise historical season, while Manning nurses an ankle injury that kept him out of practice on Wednesday. He reportedly returned to practice on Thursday, as did offensive tackle Orlando Franklin, but corner Champ Bailey was out again with a foot ailment.
Starting defensive end Shaun Phillips was also limited with a hamstring injury, as was middle linebacker Wesley Woodyard, who missed the Colts game.
Washington had a slight scare after Reed notched a hip injury, but he fully participated in practice on Wednesday, while safety Reed Doughty is recovering from a concussion and defensive end Stephen Bowen was limited with a knee injury.
The Redskins also caught a break with safety Brandon Meriweather’s suspension for a violent hit trimmed down from two games to one.
This will be the second straight week Manning faces another top-flight second-year quarterback in Griffin, who welcomes a shootout.
“I mean, you want to have a challenge. Obviously, we don’t want them scoring every time we score. We want our defense to go out there and shut them down, but you’ve got to be ready for anything, and that's what we said at the beginning of the year,” Griffin said to the Washington Post. "You’ve got to be ready to win any kind of game. Whether it’s a shootout or it’s a tough, hard-fought defensive battle, you’ve got to be able to win either of those, and so, if they score, we score, they score, we score, hopefully, we’re the last ones to score.”
Point Spread: Denver favored by 14 points.
Over-Under: 58 points
Kickoff Time: 4:25 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: NFL Game Access
TV Channel: FOX
Prediction: Denver 38, Washington 30
Currently covering NBA, NFL, MLB, along with Real Madrid and Barcelona, focusing on trades, controversy, and injury updates. Joined IB Times in August 2012.