By Mark Schlereth
Special to ESPN.com
The Broncos' blend of exceptional running and good passing should be enough to get the Broncos past the Packers. After weeks of struggling to find its offensive identity, something finally clicked with this team and it's started to dominate the line of scrimmage. Last week against the Colts without running back Clinton Portis, the Broncos ran for over 200 yards against a good defensive unit. The Broncos line blew the defense off the line and produced big holes for the running backs to run through.
Right now, the offense is functioning like a well-oiled machine. The success of the running game allows quarterback Jake Plummer to utilize his athleticism to the benefit of the Broncos. If Plummer doesn't have to worry about the defense keying in on him, he can do wonders on bootlegs and play-action passes. This season he's been dangerous for opposing defenses once he gets out on the edge of the offensive line. From that point, he can either take off and run past the linebacker or bring someone in the secondary off coverage and connect with the suddenly open receiver.
By Mike Golic
Special to ESPN.com
So far this season, the Packers defense has played well. The biggest road block in this game will be the Broncos running game. The Packers defense has to find a way to take away that running game if it wants to be successful. If I were the coach, I'd tell my guys that if we're going to lose, the running game won't be what did us in. I would make Plummer beat me and he may, but I'd rather take my chances with him than the Broncos running backs.
Green Bay has physical corners that can play strong and keep receivers on the line of scrimmage. Before the season, I wasn't sure about No. 1 draft pick, linebacker Nick Barnett, but he's played well this season with two sacks and 102 tackles. Meanwhile, Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila is fast, can move and has done a fine job getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Plummer is elusive, but the Packers have athletes that can keep him contained. The Packers are energized, particularly on defense.
After a few early-season injuries, the Pack's defense is healing and starting to peak at the right time.