NFL 2017 Week 9: Denver Broncos vs Philadelphia Eagles preview and prediction

The Broncos need a win, but they head to the team with the best record in the NFL. Can they come away with the upset?

Denver were outmatched in Week 8, falling 29-19 to the Kansas City Chiefs in Arrowhead. The Broncos gave the ball away five times during the game with Kansas, and while they controlled Kareem Hunt well they left themselves wide open to Travis Kelce, who Alex Smith was more than happy to feed. Trevor Siemian struggled, completing just 19 passes and throwing three picks, resulting in his benching for this week.

Philadelphia continued their winning ways with a comfortable 33-10 win against the San Francisco 49ers. Jake Elliott’s metronomic leg and a pick six from Jalen Mills helped pace the Eagles while Carson Wentz was good, tossing two touchdowns to complete an easy win.

The Brockening returns

Trevor Siemian is on the bench, and Brock Osweiler returns under center for the Broncos. Osweiler was last seen in Cleveland Browns camp having blown up the Houston Texans in 2016.

When Osweiler was filling in for Peyton Manning in 2015, he completed 61.8% of his passes for ten touchdowns with six interceptions at 7.2 yards per attempt. Those aren’t great numbers, but they aren’t exactly bad either. If the Broncos can get that from him again they will be more than happy. I doubt they will though.

Where’s the pass defense gone?

In 2016 the Broncos were #1 in defensive DVOA. In 2015 they were #1 in defensive DVOA. In 2014 they were… oh, #4… But you get my point. Defense has been Denver’s calling card, and specifically they were dominant against passing attacks. They could hit the quarterback from either edge and up the middle, and they had a strong secondary that could keep every receiver covered.

In 2017 Denver rank #2 in defensive DVOA, but that is because their run defense has turned into a monstrous force. They allow just 3.0 yards per carry so far this season, put their passing defense has dried up somewhat. They are middle of the road in sacks, and ninth in completion percentage against.

With the Eagles fielding one of the more prolific passing attacks this season it will be vital that the Broncos rediscover some of their old form.

Is the Jay Train coming?

At the trade deadline Philadelphia acquired running back Jay Ajayi from Miami for a fourth round pick. He was reportedly so cheap as there was some worry about the health of his knees, but also about his willingness to learn the playbook. With not even a week in the Eagles facility it will be interesting to see if they activate him or use him at all.

Matchup to Watch: Denver offensive line vs Philadelphia defensive line

In order to operate at all well, Osweiler needs time inside a clean pocket. That means his offensive line has to be on form, because the Eagles D-line have been downright scary this season. Brandon Graham has picked up five sacks so far this year, and Fletcher Cox has 4.5. Supporting them are the likes of Vinny Currey, Tim Jernigan, and Derek Barnett who can all take advantage of protection schemes that focus too heavily on one individual.

Fantasy Tip: Eagles D/ST

The Eagles defense has been a strong unit all year, not just in sacks but they are 5th in the NFL in takeaways as well. Against a poor offensive line and a statue of a quarterback in Brock Osweiler it could be a feasting for the Eagles D/ST.

Betting Tip: Eagles (-9)

It’s a lot of points, but I think the Eagles are going to cover it, especially given the form they are in. Give the points but beware of the backdoor.

Prediction: Eagles 28 – 13 Broncos

I expect turnovers a plenty from Osweiler and a lot of frustration on the Broncos sidelines. They have to win, but they realistically can’t. Philly are just too good right now on both sides of the ball.

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Toby Durant


Deputy Editor at RealSport. A life-long gamer, I have been with RealSport since 2016 and spent time covering the world of Formula 1, NFL, and football for the site before expanding into esports.


I lead the site's coverage of motorsport titles with a particular focus on Formula 1. I also lead RealSport's Madden content while occasionally dipping my toe into Football Manager and esports coverage of Gfinity Series events.