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Scouting the Broncos: 5 things to know about Denver


The Washington Football Team (2-5) will make one more stop before heading into the bye week. The burgundy and gold will travel to Colorado for a matchup with the Denver Broncos (3-4).

After rushing out to a 3-0 start, the Broncos have struggled over the past month. With four straight losses, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and company are looking to snap their streak.

Washington, which has lost three straight, is 1-2 on the road this season with the sole win coming against the Atlanta Falcons with a 34-30 last-minute victory.

Here's five things you need to know about the Broncos.

1. Denver's defense is serious.

Washington is no stranger to facing stout defenses – it's still fresh from facing the Packers' seventh-ranked unit -- and the Broncos are no exception. Washington's offense moved well against the Packers, recording 430 yards and 25 first downs. However, the team fell short where it counted only amassing 10 points and zero touchdowns despite four trips to the red zone.

Denver ranks fifth in the league allowing opponents an average of 323.4 yards per game. To take it another step further, the Broncos' defense ranks 10th passing yards (224.1) and ninth in rushing yards (99.3) per game. With numbers like that, it's no surprise the Denver defense is holding opposing offenses an average of 18.1 points per game. This week, Washington will need to minimize the mistakes and finished its drives.

2. Von Miller the X-Factor.

The veteran linebacker has had no problem getting after quarterbacks this season. Miller records 4.5 sacks and seven tackles for loss. However, the eight-time Pro Bowler suffered an ankle injury in the Broncos' 17-14 loss to the Cleveland Browns in Week 7. Broncos head coach Vic Fangio told reporters on Tuesday that Miller is day-to-day. Miller has played a key role in the Broncos' pass rush and putting pressure on quarterbacks. Without Miller, it will be interesting to see how the Denver defense attempts to pressure Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Denver has seven other players who have recorded at least .5 sacks, so Washington will still have other threat to worry about on Sunday.

3. Pushing past Denver's offensive line.

The Denver offensive line has struggled to protect quarterback Teddy Bridgewater throughout his first season with the Broncos. They're 29th in the league with 21 sacks, and Bridgewater has been taken down at least twice in every game combining for a total 18 on the season. This number ties the Browns' Baker Mayfield for sixth-most sacks on the season.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Washington defensive line has continued to improve. The group combined for two sacks against the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, and in Week 7 veteran defensive tackle Jonathan Allen sacked Aaron Rodgers twice. While the Washington defensive line has momentum heading into this game, how they matchup with the Denver offensive line, which has the eighth-highest adjusted sack rate, will be a key factor in this weekend.

The Washington Football Team took on Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 7, and was defeated, 24-10. (Photos by Karlee Sell/Washington Football Team)

4. An up-and-down start for Teddy Bridgewater.

Bridgewater had a strong start to the season during the Broncos 3-0 run. He threw 827 yards and four touchdowns to no interceptions in that span, while his passer rating never dipped below 104. His numbers since then have been uneven. All five of his interceptions have come in the past four games. If Washington can fluster the veteran signal-caller enough, it may lead to more turnover opportunities. The defensive line and secondary has played more in sync over the past two games, which has led to the Chiefs and Packers giving up the ball a combined four times. Washington will need to continue that growth against a vulnerable offensive line.

5. Containing Courtland Sutton.

Courtland Sutton has been key to Denver's offense while Jerry Jeudy has recovered from an ankle injury. The wide receiver is Bridgewater's top target recording 38 receptions on 58 targets, and his 539 yards are 10th in the league. The Washington secondary saw an improvement defending against big plays down field against the Packers. Head coach Ron Rivera said the group held its own against Davante Adams, the league's top receiver. Washington faces another challenge against Sutton, but it will look to carry last week's momentum into this matchup.

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