How Denver matches up against Cardinals and predictions


Cardinals (4-9) at Broncos (3-10)

When: 2:05 p.m. MT, Sunday

Where: Empower Field

Radio/TV: 850 AM, 94.1 FM/CBS

Broncos-Cardinals series: Broncos are 9-1-1 in 11 regular-season games dating back to 1973; the Broncos won 45-10 in the last meeting, on Oct. 18, 2018, in Arizona.

Key matchup

Colt McCoy vs Broncos D

After Kyler Murray suffered a noncontact ACL injury in the first quarter of Arizona’s loss to New England last week, veteran backup Colt McCoy will be called upon for his third start of the season.

McCoy was 1-1 in his first two starts, leading Arizona to a 27-17 win over the Rams in Week 10 and then losing 38-10 to the 49ers the following game. The 2010 third-round pick by the Browns is 11-24 across 35 career starts with Cleveland, Washington, the New York Giants and Arizona.

Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, who crossed paths with McCoy when the quarterback was a backup in San Francisco in 2013, isn’t underestimating the 36-year-old.

“He’s a smart guy who plays decisive and gets the ball out fast,” Evero said. “Obviously they had some protection issues last week (yielding six sacks), so we’ll see where they adjust from that standpoint, but he’s a very good player. He’s been in this league a long time because of what he can do above the neck. And he’s a very good athlete.”

If the Broncos can lock down McCoy and the Cardinals offense, which features mediocre rushing and passing attacks, that will pave the way to Denver’s first home victory since Week 3 against the 49ers.

The Broncos secondary remains elite, ranking seventh in the league in net passing yards allowed per game, but Pat Surtain II and others will need to make sure receiver DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t take over.

Who has the edge?


Russell Wilson is out after suffering a concussion last week, meaning Brett Rypien will be making his second start of the year. Cardinals backup Colt McCoy (neck) was limited this week; Kyler Murray suffered a season-ending ACL injury last week. Edge: Even

Running back

The Broncos’ ground attack, led by Latavius Murray and Marlon Mack, has only broken the 100-yard mark in two of the last five games. Arizona’s rushing takes a huge hit without Kyler Murray, though they still have James Conner, who has 561 yards so far. Edge: Cardinals

Receiver/tight end

Courtland Sutton and KJ Hamler are still sidelined with hamstring injuries. Jerry Jeudy is coming off a career game with three TDs against KC last week. Arizona features All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins, plus rookie tight end (and CSU product) Trey McBride. Edge: Cardinals

Offensive line

The Broncos played three different left guards last week, and starter Dalton Risner (shoulder/back) remains questionable this week. The Broncos gave up six sacks to KC and can’t consistently establish the run. Arizona has plenty of protection issues, too. Edge: Even

Defensive line

Dre’Mont Jones is dealing with a hip injury. Mike Purcell and DeShawn Williams have been better against the run over the past couple weeks. Future Hall of Famer J.J. Watt is still a force off the edge, and leads Arizona with 6.5 sacks; Leki Fotu stuffs the run. Edge: Even


Jacob Martin headed to injured reserve with a season-ending knee injury. It will be up to Baron Browning and Jonathon Cooper off the edges; Josey Jewell has been on a tear and had two picks last week. ILB Zaven Collins is having a strong season for Arizona. Edge: Even


Pat Surtain II got his first pick of the year last week, and keeps playing at a high level as a shut-down corner. Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson bring stability to the back end. Cardinals safety Budda Baker is a playmaker, leading them with 95 tackles. Edge: Broncos

Special teams

Brandon McManus is 23-of-30 on field goals. Punter Coliss Waitman has been inconsistent, especially with his hang times. Returner Montrell Washington showed flashes last week. Arizona has former Broncos kicker Matt Prater, who’s 12-of-14 on field goals. Edge: Even

Tale of the tape

Category Broncos Cardinals
Total offense 315.5 (27th) 333.8 (20th)
Rush offense 103.2 (25th) 114.8 (17th)
Pass offense 212.4 (22nd) 219.1 (18th)
Points per game 14.9 (32nd) 21.3 (17th)
Total defense 314.3 (7th) 354 (21st)
Run defense 117.7 (17th) 110.2 (8th)
Pass defense 196.6 (7th) 243.8 (25th)
Points allowed 18.3 (4th) 26.8 (32nd)

* Through Week 14

By the numbers

97: The number of penalties committed by the Broncos this year; they’ve been last in the league in that category since October.

28.1%: Denver’s third-down percentage, which ranks last in the NFL.

76.7%: Brandon McManus’ field goal percentage, which ranks the Broncos last in the NFL as a team, although the majority of McManus’ misses have come from 50-plus.

24: The number of career interception by Justin Simmons, who is tied with Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Steve Atwater for the fourth-most picks by a safety in team history.

2: The number of active safeties to accumulate 800-plus tackles, 20-plus interceptions and 100-plus passes defensed since 2010. Kareem Jackson is one, and New England’s Devin McCourty is the other.


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