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Eye On the Broncos: Breaking down the matchup


*'s Michael Eisen breaks down the opposing offense, defense, and special teams:  *

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –The Giants will make their third visit to Sports Authority Field at Mile High Sunday seeking both their first victory in that venue and in the 2017 season. They lost in Denver in the 2001 season opener and on Thanksgiving, 2009. Each of those games, like the one this week, was played in prime time. While the Giants have started their season with five consecutive losses, Denver is 3-1 and is well-rested after a bye. This Broncos will be at home for the fourth time in their first five games. They are 3-0 there this season, and two of the victories were against teams that defeated the Giants, the Chargers and Cowboys. Denver leads the regular-season series, 6-5. The Giants won their only postseason meeting when they routed the Broncos, 39-20, in Super Bowl XXI.

What is the Broncos' biggest strength?

Their offensive and defensive fronts, which have keyed their early success. Denver is third in the NFL with an average of 143.0 rushing yards a game. When the Broncos need to convert on the ground, they run behind right guard Ron Leary, a free agent acquisition from Dallas. First-round draft choice Garett Boles has played well at left tackle.

As good as the O-line has been, the defensive front is outperforming it. Denver is first in the league in total yards allowed per game (260.8), as well as both rushing yards per game (50.8) and per carry (2.4). The key performer has been…well, pick anyone on the line and a strong case can be made for him. We'll go with end Derek Wolfe, a tough, physical, blue-collar player who doesn't take a down off. Of course, the same can be said of nose tackle Domata Peko Sr.

Which player is key to the Broncos' offense?

Trevor Siemian was a 2015 seventh-round draft choice from Northwestern who started 14 games last season. This year, he might be the NFL's most underrated quarterback. When Siemian gets in a rhythm, he is very good. In the season's second game, he put on a clinic against Dallas by throwing four touchdown passes. Siemian is busy at the line of scrimmage with sound pre-snap reads and checking in and out of plays. He consistently puts the Broncos in good situations. A high percentage of his passes are out of play action. The Giants must make him uncomfortable, before and after the snap.

What is the strength of the Broncos' offense?

Their rushing attack. Denver has a stable of productive backs and a line that is better at run blocking than pass protection. The leading rusher is C.J. Anderson, a strong runner with 330 yards and a 4.5-yard average. Jamaal Charles, a four-time Pro Bowler who had five 1,000-yard seasons with Kansas City, still beats opponents with his speed. He is averaging 5.3 yards an attempt. Devontae Booker can contribute if called upon.

Which player is key to the Broncos' defense?

This is an easy one – outside linebacker Von Miller. The purest pass rusher in the league, he has had at least 11.0 sacks in each of the five full seasons in which he's played, with a high of 18.5 in 2012. Miller is a naturally-gifted, explosive player with strong hands and exceptional quickness. He often executes a spin move before a blocker can react. Because of his strengths, Miller is the NFL's most-chipped edge defender, as teams slide their protections toward him. Backs and tight ends frequently help out tackles in an attempt to slow him down.

What is the strength of the Broncos' defense?

Their ability to stifle opponents on first and second down. Denver is so sound in its fundamentals and gap control, finding a crease to run through is a Herculean task. That strength continually puts opponents in third-and-long situations. And that leads to another issue – the Broncos' secondary is gifted. Cornerback Aqib Talib has 10 career interception return touchdowns. His 103-yard runback in the final minute of the victory against Dallas was his sixth such score in the last four years.

Which player is key to the Broncos' special teams?

Denver has a pair of outstanding return specialists in Cody Latimer (punts) and rookie Isaiah McKenzie (kickoffs). Latimer might be the Broncos' best special teams player. His 28.4-yard average on five kickoff returns places him second in the league. McKenzie is 5-8, but has 4.43 speed and his 11.1-yard average on 11 punt returns is fifth in the NFL.

Based on the scouting report, what must the Giants do to win the game?

Photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Broncos

Play a clean game; give themselves a chance by not committing turnovers or bad penalties, or anything else that will keep the sellout crowd roaring. It's difficult for a mistake-prone opponent to win in Denver.

Statistics you should know:

*The Broncos are 21-7 following a bye, including 15-4 at home.

*This will be Denver's NFL-high 19th home prime time game since the start of the 2011 season. The Broncos are 15-3 in those games.

*Denver swept the NFC East in 2013, and its victory against Dallas in Week 2 was its fifth in a row against the division. The Broncos have scored at least 41 points in each game of the streak.

A look at the playmakers of the Giants' upcoming opponent

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