Here are some keys to Denver’s Thursday night matchup with the visiting New York Giants as the Broncos try to end a four-game losing streak:
Orton’s health: Unless there is an unexpected change of events, quarterback Kyle Orton will start against the Giants. He needs to stay healthy. Orton missed the second half of a loss at Washington on Nov. 15 and the first quarter last week against San Diego before playing on a gimpy ankle for the final three quarters. Orton played pretty well despite the injury. He seems to have made strides since the game. Still, Denver needs Orton to play the entire game, so his health is paramount.
Run defense: Denver’s run defense has been ravaged during the four-game losing streak. The problem hit a zenith when San Diego, one of the worst rushing offenses in the NFL this season, ran for 203 yards. The Giants have the seventh-best run offense in the NFL. So the Broncos are going to be tested in this game even if Ahmad Bradshaw can’t play because of an injury.
Simply play better: After the Broncos lost to San Diego in a game for first place in the AFC West on Sunday, Broncos defensive end Vonnie Holliday said they had to start making the plays they made when they started 6-0. The Broncos are no longer making timely plays on either side of the ball. The only way they are going to snap out of this free-fall is to make plays.
Ball security: Denver would have been in the game against the Chargers if it weren’t for two fumbles inside San Diego’s red zone in the first half. That killed the team’s chances in an eventual 32-3 loss. To beat the Giants, Denver, which has scored a total of three points in the past six quarters, can’t continue to squander opportunities.
Control their emotions: Some Broncos players and coach Josh McDaniels have had issues controlling their feelings recently. There was a players-only meeting this week to try to eliminate any issues. Surely, the pressure is on Denver after its unexpected tumble. But everyone has to remain composed against the Giants.