Broncos vs Cardinals Game Preview
The Broncos and Cardinals meet in one of the last preseason games of 2018, which also serves as a preview of their week seven matchup in the regular season. Both squads have new quarterbacks and new offensive coordinators and are looking to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Case Keenum leads the Broncos who have a renewed roster and are sneaky picks to win the division while the Cardinals could also emerge after the major shakeups of the NFC West.
Denver has never had back-to-back losing seasons since the ’70s and the trend should continue as they further upgraded their already stacked defence and brought back stability to their offence with Keenum.
They are still without a proper running back and the AFC West is the toughest in the conference, but Denver has a solid shot to make the postseason for the first time since Peyton Manning was still playing.
It’s a new era for the Cardinals following coach Bruce Arians’ resignation the previous season. The Cards have new coaches from the top to their offence and defence including Broncos’ former offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Arizona struggled without a quarterback last season so they brought in two: Sam Bradford and Josh Rosen, who are both competing for that starting position. With all the attention on the Rams and 49ers, the Cardinals are looking to “sneak up” on the division.
The Broncos have dominated the Cardinals although preseason is another story. The Cardinals are rolling with capable quarterbacks down to their third-string with Mike Glennon. Despite their lack of depth, especially on defence, their offence should win them this game.
Broncos vs Cardinals Head-to-Head Records
This has been one of the NFL’s most lopsided series as the Broncos lead 8-1-1 in ten meetings and were unbeaten against the Cardinals for 37 years. While their first meeting resulted in a 17-17 tie in 1973, Denver would go on to win the next seven games all the way until 2006.
Denver was one of the NFL’s most consistently great franchises beginning in the late ’70s while the Cardinals struggled to win and had difficulties stringing together consecutive winning seasons. The Broncos would make more Super Bowl appearances in 12 years than the Cardinals would have playoff appearances in 30.
Through their seven-game dominance, the Broncos would limit the Cardinals to seven points or less in four of these games including preventing them from scoring in two. By the mid-2000’s, Arizona would start to put together a decent team and Denver would start to regress leading to a close contest.
Arizona finally snapped the streak in 2010 in a game that saw the Broncos commit six turnovers as Cardinals’ kicker Jay Feely dominated. Denver would once again reclaim control of the series by winning their most recent meeting in 2014. With the two teams appearing even in terms of talent, expect a more even series moving forward.
Denver Broncos Recent History
Outside the New England Patriots, the Broncos have been the AFC’s most dominant franchise. In the last forty years going back to 1977, the Broncos have never had consistent losing seasons and have never had a playoff drought longer than five years.
While they would lose their first four Super Bowl appearances, including three in a span of four seasons from 1986 to 1989, the Broncos would win three of their next four beginning in the late ’90s. Denver became one of only two franchises to repeat as Super Bowl champions in the last twenty years.
They would most recently recapture their dominance during the 2010’s led by Manning and a dominant defence playing in two Super Bowls and winning Super Bowl 50 in 2015. Knowing the organization’s aptitude, another Super Bowl run isn’t far in their future.
Arizona Cardinals Recent History
It’s slim pickings when talking about the Cardinals’ history. This franchise just doesn’t win that much. Their 42.9 winning percentage is 31st in the league and factor that in with them having played the third-most games. Arizona doesn’t just have losing seasons. They have losing decades.
From 1949 to 2007, the Cardinals would only make four playoff appearances and win one playoff game. During this span, over a dozen NFL teams have won more Super Bowls or championships than the Cardinals have won a playoff game. They would experience brief periods of success sporadically.
The Cardinals would win 10 or more games in three straight seasons in the mid-’70s then make a Super Bowl run in 2008 and most recently, post three double-digit winning seasons from 2013 to 2015. But that’s about it. Arizona is again in the middle of a rebuild and God knows how long or when they start winning again.
Denver Broncos Outlook
Denver had a solid draft and upgraded their team in multiple areas. They took Bradley Chubb, the consensus best defensive player in the draft with their first-round pick and added a receiver and running back with Courtland Sutton and Royce Freeman, two players who look to contribute immediately.
Defensively, Denver also added Isaac Yiadom hoping to replace Aqib Talib at corner. The team remains one of the NFL’s best defences and the addition of Chubb gives them the best pass rush in the league on top of a solid secondary. On offence, Keenum is an upgrade over whatever they had last season.
The running back situation is still up-in-the-air and special teams could use some help. Vance Joseph is still unproven as a coach and they play in the Division of the Death aka the AFC West. Denver is good enough to be a playoff team, but they have little room for error.
Arizona Cardinals Outlook
The Cardinals finished in the bottom quarter of the league in major offensive categories so that was the focus of their draft. With their first four picks, they took a quarterback, receiver, centre, and running back, in that order. Rosen could be their quarterback of the future and they’ve added tools to help him in the future.
But even with these additions, the Cardinals will struggle in the short-term. They have stars like David Johnson at running back and Patrick Peterson (CB) and Chandler Jones (DE) on defence, but they also lost Tyrann Mathieu at safety and the rest of the team is thin.
A lot will have to happen for the Cardinals to contend again. Their draft picks and additions will have to pan out quickly. Either Bradford or Rosen should play at a high level and stay healthy. And the Rams and 49ers should stink up the joint. In other words, it could be a rough season for Arizona.
Arizona has an intriguing preseason team. Bradford and Rosen will be competing for the starting job so either could be taking reps with either unit although Rosen is likely to play with the second. The problematic offensive line and thin defence will be this team’s downfall.
Denver is stacked on defence be it their first team or second team. When the likes of Shane Ray (LB) and Tramaine Brock (CB) are listed as second-teamers, you know Denver has depth. This team will have a healthy competition to get to the first team and a fierce defence will gnaw at the Cardinals’ patchwork offence.
But the disparity at quarterback is huge. Bradford and Rosen is a better pair than Keenum and Paxton Lynch. Rosen may get a lot of flack for his demeanour, but he’ll show why he’s considered the most “NFL-ready” rookie by lighting up Denver.