With perfection on the line, the (6-0) Green Bay Packers meet the (6-0) Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, in a matchup of two of the NFL’s five remaining undefeated teams (8.30pm ET, Sunday).
With both teams coming off a bye and primed to continue both their offensive and defensive successes, it appears on face value to be anyone’s guess which team will walk away with the win. That said, this Packers at Broncos preview has found some good betting picks in our conclusion at the end.
The Road to Perfection
Green Bay’s path to 6-0 has not been easy – they have gone through some tough opponents. The Packers opened the season with a divisional rival in the Chicago Bears and followed that up with back-to-back home games against last year’s Super Bowl runner ups, the Seattle Seahawks, and fellow playoff team, the Kansas City Chiefs. It wasn’t until Green Bay’s last game against the San Diego Chargers, that the team won by less than eight points.
Leading to the unblemished record has been of course, Aaron Rodgers (pictured) and the offense, but more than that, it’s been the Packers defense. Green Bay is fifth in the NFL in offensive points per game but is first in opponent’s points allowed at a mark just fewer than 17. In what could be seen as an off year for Rodgers standards, the defense has really been the star of the show. In addition to leading in points allowed per game, Green Bay is third in the NFL with 23 total sacks.
First in the NFL in sacks is Denver with 26, another team that has benefited greatly from defense in an off year for its quarterback. The Broncos’ road to staying perfect has gone through the Baltimore Ravens, divisional rival Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings and most recently, the Cleveland Browns in overtime. Unlike the Packers, who have just one win by less than eight points, the Broncos have just one win by eight or more points. Two of their past three have even come by just a field goal’s margin.
The defense deserves much of the credit for the Broncos being able to have a zero in the loss column. They have made big, game-changing plays at crucial moments and lead the NFL with three defensive touchdowns, and lead the AFC with nine interceptions and eight recovered fumbles. Denver is second to the Packers in points allowed per game with 17.
QB Battle: (GB) Aaron Rodgers vs (DEN) Peyton Manning
For just the second time in their illustrious careers, Manning and Rodgers will meet on the gridiron. The first meeting, from 2008 was won by Rodgers back when Manning was still in his stint with the Indianapolis Colts and Rodgers was a rookie. Rodgers threw for just 186 yards and one touchdown but he outplayed Manning who had zero touchdowns, which was extremely rare, and two interceptions. Ironically enough, it was Green Bay’s defense, who returned both Manning picks for touchdowns, that was the difference maker in the game.
Since 2008, Manning and Rodgers have forged different paths, both of which have resulted in huge regular season successes and individual marks of greatness. The two have won five of the seven NFL MVPs awarded in that time and have each reached the Super Bowl with the Packers winning it in 2011. Manning continues to put finishing touches on what could go down as the greatest NFL career of a QB of all-time and Rodgers continues to be the best in the game currently.
But in 2015, both top quarterbacks have taken a step back at least as far as their own high-reaching standards go. As far as total passing yards, you have to go all the way down to 17th to find Manning with 1,524. Rodgers is 18th with 1,491. Now granted, these two have one less game of sample size but if you looked at the per game basis, Manning is still ranked 17th and Rodgers is actually worse at 20th.
Rodgers does rank tied for third with Blake Bortles and Philip Rivers for total touchdowns with 15 and his just two interceptions are second only to Tom Brady, who is an early MVP frontrunner for the 2015-16 season. In that same category, Manning is ninth but it’s not Peyton. Younger brother Eli is having a season that is more accustomed to the Broncos QB. The latter is actually 25th and has more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7) in a very uncharacteristically bad season.
Going into this head-to-head, Rodgers does have an edge. Green Bay also has the better running game behind Eddie Lacy and James Starks. Those two will have to contend with Denver’s top ranked NFL rushing defense though, again showing another example of how the defenses will play into this game. Denver also has the top ranked passing defense, another element to keep an eye on in this showdown.
Our Preview’s Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos Betting Picks
Two 6-0 teams enter, but only one will leave 7-0. Both the Packers and Broncos have complete teams and are capable of staying perfect. It’s unfortunate their paths are crossing so early but at the same time, this is a game that should be fantastic on both sides of the ball, especially on defense.
In a game that features two quarterbacks with a total of seven MVPS, including each of the last three seasons, one wouldn’t expect that the defenses would be the story. Given how both have performed however and how they have been the difference makers this season, it wouldn’t be surprising if this is a low-scoring game that comes down to which defense is able to force more turnovers and make more big plays.
All that said, when it comes to our preview’s picks and predictions, take the Packers to remain perfect. They are favorite with the sportsbooks, giving away 2.5pts on the spread but that plays into Green Bay’s hands. The Packers have not lost a game this year and all of their wins have come by at least six points. It’s a pretty safe bet to say this one will be too.
- Bet on Green Bay Packers -2.5pts @ best betting odds of -120 with BetOnline. The same spread is -125 with 5Dimes, while Bovada go -3.5pts @ +105.
- As for the total points, take the under 45.5. This can be bet on @ -110 betting odds with any of Bovada, BetOnline or 5Dimes sportsbooks. The two teams are one and two in points allowed and as I will continue to mention, defense is the story to watch in this matchup of the undefeated.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.